Exploring Marrakech on Holiday with EDGT

Hey Lovelies! Thanks so much for visiting my site again. I can’t wait to tell you all about my latest adventure. I literally just got back this past Monday in the States from Marrakech (also spelled Marrakesh), Morocco. While I was touring Marrakech, I was so busy y’all. Busy walking through unyielding traffic, busy bustlin’ through the souks, busy camel riding, busy tangine-nin’, etc. Yeah, this lady is over here a little tired, but really pumped with new inspiration.

Morocco is a country known for its desert like landscape, miracle-working argan oil, Berber silvers, and ancient wonders. While there is so much more to this country, I was only able to tour the city of Marrakech, known to be a super busy tourist destination, with Everyday Globetrotter, the boutique travel company that I ventured to Cape Town with last March. I am so glad that the  EDGT team did all the heavy lifting with this one because I just didn’t have the time this go ’round to find and coordinate so many excursions.

EAT

I was surprised to learn that Morocco gets a lot of imported foods from the U.S. Corn, barley, fish, and fruits like watermelon are plentiful here now, but from what I’ve heard, Morocco isn’t a major player in agriculture. Also, I was shocked to learn that scientists predict the country will experience major drought issues within the next several years as the effects of global warming seep in. So, those huge watermelons in the market may only be for a time.

The issue of limited water has hit me as a novice traveller. Last year, I visited Cape Town, South Africa during a major drought that really called for drastic water conservation methods for both locals and tourists.

Anyways, I tried several restaurants while in Marrakech, including Riad Dar El Aïla’s dining room, Le Salama, La Rose Du Sable, Limoni, and the Nomad. Of course, I LOVE to eat, so I did a separate post,  Marrakech Food Reviews, with my full restaurant and food reviews, which will be published soon.

SLEEP

Riad Dar El Aïla

Instead of a typical hotel, EDGT booked the entire riad for our group for a private home/ bed and breakfast oasis feel. For the majority of our time in Marrakech, Riad Dar El Aïla was our home away from home.

Riad Dar Aïla Photos by Justin Milhouse (IG @j.milhouse)

From the moment we arrived from the airport, the Dar El Aïla staff members there were incredibly helpful and engaging. The riad smelled of Fleur de Orange, an exotic aromatic oil that really grew on me during my time there. The riad has two courtyards, a small pool, a spa, dining area, and various bedrooms that well accommodated our group of 30 or so lively young professionals.

A very special touch came when we received our EDGT welcome gift bags in our rooms, filled with cool merch., chocolate, and magazine guide, designed by Sarah Greer, for our trip.

EDGT Merch shot by Justin Milhouse (IG @j.milhouse)

Zagora Luxury Desert Camp (see 2-Day Desert Trekking Excursion below)

ADVENTURE

An Historic Walking Tour

After resting up a bit, we hit the ground running with a historic walking tour. Our private guide took us through the streets and to the busy medina where we learned more about the history of Marrakech. We learned that the community feel of the Old City is very family oriented. Communal bath houses/ hammams as well as community wells still exist after hundreds of years.

Families have community bread makers that they send their homemade doughs for baking. The bakers know each family well enough to identify each one by their doughs. While younger people are moving to a more modern areas toward New City, they still treasure community members like this.

Marrakech has seven saints with dedicated altars through the city tucked behind stone walls where people pray. Local school children have small soccer leagues in each neighborhood. All and all, Marrakech proved to be a tight-knit community outside of its tourist appeal.

We did get a chance to visit a palace during this tour, Bahia Palace. Bahia Palace was definitely a visual highlight on this trip. Every corner was Instagram-able and deserving of design props. It was actually multiple riads in one space. The visual experience was something, I believe, everyone should visit.

See my post, A Picturesque Afternoon at Bahia Palace, for all the beautiful shots there.

YSL’s Jardin Majorelle

When you Google Marrakech or search it on Pinterest, you’re sure to come across many photos of this beautiful garden created by Yves Saint Laurent as it is a major tourist attraction.

Designer Yves Saint Laurent restored and renovated this entire site after a war/ conflict destroyed the area. Today, this garden is the home to YSL’s remains, beautiful art, mini shops, and the exotic plant life that he imported from all over the world.

All I can say was it was beautiful! It was here that we took our 1st EDGT group photo.

EDGT Group Photo by Justin Milhouse (IG @j.milhouse)

2-Day Desert Trekking Excursion

DAY 1-Our travel group hired a tour company to help coordinate our excursion to and from the Sahara Desert. Our main guide was named Hassan Amzil, who you can follow on Instagram @hassan.amzil5477 for more information on his tours.

The entire trip took almost 2 days, including travelling to and from the camp sites and multiple site seeing pit stops.  We began by traveling southeast of Marrakech into the Atlas Mountains.

The intense zigzag motion coupled with the lack of adequate AC in the heat made the car ride super unpleasant. So, the site-seeing pit stops to get a great shot of the mountains and lunch definitely helped me from completely losing my cool.

By late evening, we had to switch vehicles from our tour bus to our camel caravan as we trekked through the desert terrain as dusk settled until we finally reached Zagora Luxury Desert Camp.

When we finally arrived, we were welcomed by local Berbers and treated to hot, hearty tangine meals. As the darkness settled around us, we kept ourselves entertained with fierce Uno games and fireside tunes before heading to our beds for some much-needed rest.

Entertainment at Zagora Desert Camp. Photo by Justin Milhouse (@j.milhouse).
Entertainment at Zagora Desert Camp. Photo by Justin Milhouse (@j.milhouse).

DAY 2- After a very late night/ early morning, those surviving members of our crew rose early as to watch the sun rise over our camp. After the sun rose and we snapped a few pics, we headed inside the main tent to have our breakfast before setting out again on our camels. Afterwards my return camel, Henry, dropped me off, we packed up our things and returned to our tour buses as we headed back toward Marrakech.

Along the way, we visited a really cool palace, Kasbah de Taourirt, with so many hidden stairs and rooms of varying sizes. It was like a dream actually being there. Of course, my legs and thighs quickly reminded me that this was not a dream.

We had lunch at a beautiful garden restaurant before we boarded the buses yet again for our next stop, Atlas Film Studios.

Atlas Film Studios was really cool because we got to see so many movie and television sets. There you can find sets for shows like Game of Thrones and Films like the Prince of Egypt, the King & I, etc.

Our last stop before returning to the riad was at Assaisse Ouzeka Argane Tichka cooperative in Essaouira, Morocco, where they support women workers through the production and sale of various natural food, cosmetic, and skin care products like argan honey, argan oil infused creams, and argan peanut butter.

Souk Shopping

Believe me when I say that shopping in Marrakech is a whole adventure. From incense to oils, to leather goods and jewelry, there’s absolutely so much to see in the Old City. I’ve never had to negotiate to buy my items before. It was a grueling and yet satisfying experience to secure my new travel trinkets.

More to come on my souk treasures!

Hamman & Spa Life

Luckily, our riad had its on spa and hamman rooms tucked away on the first level. After our long, uncomfortable camel rides, everyone was in need of a spa day. I chose a 1-hour relaxing massage featuring Morocco’s famous argan oil that was under $37.00. And believe me, it was a great deal. I’ve always wanted to get a professional massage, so this was the perfect opportunity.

There was so much to do that I wish I made time for the group cooking class with Amal Restaurant and Training Center for Women or the ATV trekking in the desert. But after journeying back from the desert, I was beat!

You know what that means, right? It means I’ll just be bidding a temporary farewell to Marrakech for now!

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EDGT Group Photos // Justin Milhouse (IG @j.milhouse)

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