Day Trip From Marrakech to Essaouira: Marrakech is a captivating city that offers innumerable opportunities to explore Morocco’s countryside, beach resorts, mountain ranges and desert areas. From Marrakech, an extraordinarily well connected city, it is easy to travel to some of the most marvellous places in the country, including the stunning fishing port of Essaouira, the lovely small village of Imlil at the edge the Toubkal National Park, or the sensational Ait Benhaddou Kasbah near Ouarzazate.
Essaouira is an absolutely charming fishing port on the Atlantic coast, some 110 miles west of Marrakech. Its weather is quite lovely all year round, with a temperature between 60° F in winter and 80° F in summer.
Many celebrities have visited this wonderful city, from the internationally renowned film-maker Orson Welles, who shot his film “Othello” in Essaouira from 1949 to 1952, to the rock legend Jimi Hendrix in 1969.
The beautiful medina of Essaouira is listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site and offers wonderful crafts, charming winding alleys as well as countless kinds of spices, food products and traditional remedies and oils.
Essaouira is also known by surfers and windsurfers as one of the best spots in Africa for the practice of these sports. Several international competitions are held in the city and many clubs and associations offer a chance to enjoy its fantastic surfing and windsurfing conditions.
The cultural scene of Essaouira is vibrant and varied, and the most important cultural event in the city is undoubtedly its Gnawa International Festival of World Music which, although focused on the traditional Gnaoua musical genre, it also includes rock, folk, jazz and reggae.
2. Imlil and the Toubkal National Park
Imlil is a small village located some 40 miles south of Marrakech, at the heart of the High Atlas Mountains, and 5700 feet above sea level. It is very close to Djebel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa, and thus constitutes an unbeatable base for attempting its summit or for organising trekking and climbing expeditions.
Once in Imlil, a visit to the Asni Berber market (Saturdays only) is definitely worth while, as is a visit to the souk at Tahanoute, a walk up to the Kasbah or a lunch at the Kasbah Toubkal or the Kasbah Tamadot. Imlil offers an incomparable opportunity to immerse oneself into a Berber village for a day.
Imlil is located quite close to the Toubkal National Park, a 38.000 hectares park full of natural diversity and beauty. Also from Imlil, there is the possibility of a visit to Tin Mal, where a stunning mosque, built in 1153-54, displays a wonderful picture of the skill of the High Atlas sedentary tribes.
3. Ait Benhaddou and the UNESCO Site
Another fantastic day-trip from Marrakech is a visit to the World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou, located some 105 miles from Marrakech and about 20 miles from Ouarzazate. Ait Benhaddou is undoubtedly one of Morocco’s most spectacular ksours (fortified villages) and one of the main places on the route of the trans-Saharan caravan route through the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech.
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