Whether tempting your taste buds with cumin-laced cuisine or traveling camelback through the dunes of the Sahara, adventure is an integral part of traveling in this North African country. Landscapes as diverse as the Atlas Mountain range and as long as the Atlantic coastline make for ideal playgrounds. The trick is choosing which one to explore.
With a heritage that originated in approximately 8,000 BC, natives of Berber descent continue to open their villages to passing Moroccan visitorsjust a few of the many stops on BikeHike Adventures' ten-day mountain biking tour through the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Beginning at 6,000 feet and cresting the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass at 7,415 feet, bikers traverse singletrack and jeep roads from Marrakech to the Sahara Desert.
If you'd rather spend time on Morocco's sandy shores, make your way to Essaouira on the Atlantic coast. This artsy coastal port is just two hours from Marrakech and was once the stomping grounds of Orson Wells and Jimi Hendrix. Open spaces and wide streets are just two incentives for visitors, but those artists and musicians come here in search of something the bigger Moroccan cities can't offer. Ocean shores. Early morning conditions are ideal for beginners looking for a lesson or two in windsurfing. Club Mistral offers two-hour lessons on starting in the water, carving, and other windsurfing maneuvers; afternoon instruction (when the winds are highest) are reserved for advanced surfers. Club Mistral is located along a sandy bay, a 20-minute walk west of the city center, and is open year-round to windsurfers, kitesurfers, and surfers. Salute your abilities at the end of the day at Club Mistral's Ocean Vagabound Restaurant and Bar while resting on one of their sun beds. For quaint accommodations at night, reserve a room at Les Matins Bleu. Conceived by a windsurfer, the hotel (meaning "the blue mornings") is just yards from the beach in the center of town. Rooms start at just $36.
Finally, if you'd rather immerse yourself in Moroccan culture and history, a camel trek is the way to roam. While this might not take as much of an effort on your part, the experience is uniquely your own. Berber Tours offers an eight-day, seven-night journey that begins in Marrakech and continues through the High Atlas Mountain range on to the Sahara for a two-night camel trek adventure. Stop at the Telouet Kasbah, a once-elaborate estate for the family of Glaouithe former governor of Marrakech who was later hired to gain more support for the French Protectorate in Morocco during the 1940s. The massive piece of architecture was left in ruins but remains open for viewing. Continuing on to the Sahara by 4x4, the trek begins in Zagora. You'll be carried away by camels for a two-day adventure across the desert landscape, which ultimately spreads over 3.5 million square miles. Travel across some of the desert's largest sand dunes reaching as high as 600 feet and return each evening for sunset meals at an established camp. On day five, experience a traditional Moroccan family dinner. Prices start at $935 per person.
Amy A. Clark