An Amazing Day Trip from Marrakech: Atlas Mountains & Agafay Desert
We took the most amazing day trip from Marrakech to the Atlas Mountains and Agafay desert during our time in Morocco. There are many options when it comes to booking day trips from the city of Marrakech. Whether you’re wanting to explore nature or see other cities, there are so many options to choose from. Even if you're short on time during your travels to Marrakech, taking a day to see something different and learn more about the Moroccan history and culture is well worth it.
Although our time in Morocco was just 4 days, we wanted to see as much as possible. Typical me, wanting to cram as many things into one trip (rookie mistake I keep making, but not regretting).
IS IT WORTH IT TO TAKE A DAY TRIP FROM MARRAKECH?
At first, I was a little worried about booking a private day trip -- would it be authentic and worth leaving Marrakech for a full day? How safe is it?
These questions were at the forefront of mind before we booked the trip. Luckily enough (or not so lucky?), our hotel told us we had to be out of the hotel for 12 hours on our second day for an inspection. That left us with the option to either take a day trip to the desert or spend time at a spa. I love a good spa day as much as the next person. But our trip to Morocco was focused on experiencing a new and different culture. The day trip with Arib Voyages, did in fact, show us just that.
By taking a day trip, you have an entirely new perspective and get to experience so much more of Morocco. Our trip was indeed short, but extremely worth it. The trip gave us a wider understanding of the culture and history of Morocco.
Definitely do your research before booking a tour. There are many options and depending on what you would like to see, you should pick the itinerary that suits your preferences. We opted for a private tour of the Agafay Desert, camel ride through the desert, driving through the Atlas Mountains, and visiting with a Berber family for lunch. We did have the option to tour the valleys instead of the desert. However, our guide, Bachir, said he felt the Agafay Desert was a more unique experience. So, naturally, we opted for his expert opinion.
We chose Arib Tour Voyages after reading the reviews on Trip Advisor, which were superb. Thankfully, the reviews were right and it was everything we expected it would be and more. Bachir was extremely knowledgeable, flexible with our day, and quite funny and entertaining. During his early childhood he was a Saharan Nomad, along with his family (I feel like I could write a book on his life!). We spent the first hour of the car ride bombarding him with questions and learned so much.
Side note: did you know that Saharan Nomads live off camels? They drink camel milk, trade camels, eat camel, and pretty much use camels for daily survival. Also, my friend found this website where you can find out how many camels you are worth (because these are important things). To give you an idea, a really wealthy family back in the day could have as many as 300 camels at one time. I just keep imagining a line of 300 camels romping through the desert -- how cool?
CAMEL RIDE IN THE AGAFAY DESERT, MOROCCO
After being picked up promptly at 9 a.m. from our hotel, Bliss Riad, we headed to the Agafay desert (about a 45 minute drive). The drive was interesting because we got to see the villages surrounding the city. It was truly eye opening to see how different the family live in each village. We also asked our tour guide a thousand questions and he kindly entertained us.
Once we arrived to the Agafay desert, we met our new friend, Mohammed and his sassy camels. We each hopped (not so gracefully) on our own camel and explored the Agafay Desert with Mohammad leading the way. He even stopped to ask if we wanted a few photo ops at the prettiest spots!
This was my first time riding a camel (hopefully not my last). It was a lot bumpier than I anticipated and they even seem taller once you're sitting on the camel upright. However, they were super cute and friendly. The camel ride was one of the best parts of the trip.
The camel ride was $10/person, which wasn't included in the tour guide price, but it was optional of course.
After a bumpy and beautiful camel ride through the desert, we stopped for Moroccan tea. The set-up was gorgeous (see photo above).
DRIVING THROUGH THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS & VALLEY
After our camel ride, we made our way towards the Atlas Mountains. We stopped for photos and to see the different villages along the way. The ride was absolutely beautiful and we saw such a diverse landscape. From the dry desert to the lush and wet vegetation near the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, there was so much to see.
We stopped at the lake of Lalla Takerkoust, where you had gorgeous views of the mountains and Berber villages. It's a common spot for many people to have lunch, but we just enjoyed the views. From the lake, we made way to Kik Plateau, the drive was super windy and picturesque.
The journey took around 1.5 - 2 hours, but it flew by because the views were so spectacular. We stopped in a small Berber village to pick up fresh pomegranates then made our way up the mountain. Along the ride we saw donkeys, little kids playing in the streets, and a dozen or more little clay villages.
LUNCH WITH BERBER FAMILY
This is not an exaggeration, but our meal with the Berber family made it in to my top 5 favorite dishes ever. The food was absolutely delicious and definitely the best meal we ate during our time in Morocco. As you can see from the photos, it was served in an authentic Moroccan way and even cooked in an old fire oven.
Okay, I am getting a little ahead of myself. Although the food was amazing, it wasn't the only great part of our visit with the family. The Berber family gave us a tour of their home and how they live. The house was quite small, but very practical. They had a room in the front where they would host guests, one bedroom for the whole family, small kitchen, and one shower area. Colorful rugs filled the terrace and over looked the Atlas Mountains -- it made for the perfect lunch spot.
As you can imagine, it was really eye opening to see how the Berber family lived and kept their household. Nowadays, this particular Berber family hosts tourist each day for lunch. They do an incredible job of providing an authentic and genuine experience for their guest, and I find is so great they're able to share these traditions with so many people.
Our lunch consisted of chicken tagine, couscous, fresh tomato salad, and fruit for desert. The Berber family used fresh, organic ingredients from the garden. The only weird thing was I could see a family of chickens below the terrace. I kept wondering if I was eating their cousin...
My day trip with Arib Voyages was the highlight of my trip to Morocco. Yes, the souks were amazing and seeing the different sites in Marrakech were great. However, something about getting out into the desert, meeting the Berber family, and driving through the mountains felt more like such an authentic experience.
A day trip from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech is well worth it. Whether you go to see the desert or another city, it'll be the best travel decision.
Typically I am not one to recommend the "touristy" things and use TripAdvisor, but I am so thankful that we went with Arib Voyages and took the chance. To see more about our time in Morocco and clips from our day trip, you can find my Marrakech Vlog here.
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