Tours - Excursions
It used to be common to step outside a hotel and find a ‘guide’
willing to give you a tour around Marrakech for
a small fee, but today the tourist police have clamped down on the
unlicensed escorts. If visiting Marrakech for a short time, a guide
can be indispensable for revealing the little-known parts of the
city and these freelance guides can still be found but it can be
a hit and miss affair. As always, a fee should be negotiated in
advance and tourists should be particularly cautious in the souks,
as many guides have commission arrangements with the various shops
and these will be the ones you will be ‘guided’ to see.
Better still, official and fully licensed guides can be hired from
any of the good hotels or from the tourist offices but even these
guides often have some commission arrangements.
The following company can arrange various walking tours, such as
exploring the medina or the tanneries.
154 avenue Mohamed V
Telephone number: (044) 438 742
Grands taxis can be hired for tours of the Marrakech and day excursions
from the ranks in Guéliz by the Post Office or at Jemaa-el-Fna.
It is also possible to hire a calèche for a tour of the city
and for both modes of transport the price should be negotiated in
There are scores of travel agents in the streets around place Abdel
Moumen ben Ali.
Travel Link, 19 rue Mauritania, Guéliz (telephone
number: (044) 448 797), offers hot air ballooning just outside Marrakech,
as well as helicopter tours of the ramparts and High Atlas
There is a growing market in the more adventurous excursions, such
as 4x4 safaris, hunting, fishing, Atlas trekking and whitewater
rafting in the High Atlas Mountains. Operators include:
194/7 Résidence Firdaous,
15 rue Mohamed el Baqal 15
Telephone number: (044)
For a Half Day
Set within lush terraces, the riverside hamlet of Setti Fatma is
located 40 miles (60 kilometres) southeast of the city of Marrakech.
The village is set at the end of the winding Ourika valley
beyond the reach of most of the tourist coaches.
Setti Fatma itself is simply a mud-brick village, if rather pretty,
but the 7 waterfalls that tumble and tear through the craggy rocks
above it make it a very well-known location. The 1st of the falls
is quite an easy climb and it is possible to swim here in the icy
cold waters of the rock pool and to sunbathe on the rocks. The higher
falls are harder work and sturdy shoes and a good head for heights
are required, although there are a number of guides willing to offer
help. The banks of many falls are lined with nice cafés and
restaurants. The best way to get to Setti Fatma
is by grand taxi from the main bus station in the city of Marrakech.
For a Whole Day
Situated 180 kilometres (112 miles) west of Marrakech, this 18th-century
coastal resort provides a very welcome escape from the heat and
the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. A trading and fishing port with
a history dating back to the 7th century BC, it was massively rebuilt
in the 18th century and modelled on St-Malo in France. With its
fine sand beach and blue-and-white-painted houses, it has a long
association with artists. A series of forts built along the seafront,
a blend of French, Portuguese and Berber military architecture,
lend an influential mystique to Essaouira. Orson Welles
shot some of his famous film Othello (1952) on
the ramparts, the Skala du Port, here. The cooling
Atlantic breeze, the alizee, has made it renowned for windsurfing.
Jogging, sunbathing and games of football along the beach are popular
activities. It is 1 of the most European of the cities in the country
and is popular with the laid-back, wind-surfing crowd.
The tourist office
10 rue du Caire
Telephone number: (044) 783
532 or 473 819
The fastest way of getting to Essaouira from Marrakech is by grand
taxi, which has the added bonus of probably witnessing tree-climbing
goats en route. ONCF Supratours Express Buses leave
Marrakech train station (telephone number: (044) 447 703/768), twice