Alternative Travel in Marrakech
Just when you thought that historical sites and gardens were all that Marrakech in Morocco had to offer, rest assured that plenty of alternative activities are available. We aren’t talking about taking the new tour bus or a classic carriage ride through town. What we are talking about is an alternative Marrakesh experience that will make your hotel stay and travels in Morocco all the more enjoyable and interesting – especially for those listening to your wayfarer tales back home.
When the Morocco.com Team visited Marrakech this summer, the temperature was roasting and we found that most hotels were brim-full with tourists taking advantage of the pools and staying clear of the Jma El Fna square until the cool evening breezes began blowing at sundown. While walking through the medina, we happened upon one café known as the Earth Café, located off of the small alley named Riad Zitoun Lekdim. With its pinkish-red plastered exterior and homemade yellow sign, the place stuck out from the darker red buildings and the brick-lined alleyway.
Upon entering, the owner, Naim Barakat, was pleased to have us as visitors on a hot Sunday afternoon. Naim mentioned that he had just opened up his café as an extension of his organic farm located outside of Marrakesh. His organic café and show room would sell the products that his farm produced. After working in both California and Australia, Naim has made it his mission to promote natural products of Morocco to Moroccans and foreigners alike. Day trips to his farm with organic lunch can be arranged in advance.
Besides a trip to the Earth Café, trips outside of Marrakesh to explore the nature of the region are also available. The Ourika Valley, located just one hour by taxi or car is one location that is cool in the summer due to its altitude. So, skip the five-star pool and talk with your hotel about arranging a day trip for you and your family to the small village region of Setti Fatma in the Ourika Valley. Travelers can also grab lunch at one of the many stalls selling Moroccan tagines – those that are claimed to be the best Berber tagines in the entire south of Morocco.
If you are searching for another cool spot to hang out in Marrakech this summer, consider the newly opened Café du Livre (coffee shop / book store) located in the new town of Gueliz and connected to Hotel Toulousain, which every taxi knows. The Café du Livre serves a delicious array of Moroccan, American, and French foods. The comfortable and inviting atmosphere has seen the likes of several prominent authors who often appear for book signings and talks. Additionally, the shelves are lined with English and French books; classics, novels, books on art, and of course, books about Marrakech. If you’ve got a large group, visit or call ahead of time in order to make reservations. The place is small, but inspiring.
Finally, to make a full day out of your alternative travels in Marrakesh, you might try one of the best restaurants in town that won’t break the bank. A restaurant named Al Fassia, located in the new town of Gueliz off of Boulevard Zerktouni at the Tayeb Residence, is an ever-popular women’s cooperative restaurant offering scrumptious Moroccan cuisine that might very well serve the best dishes in the entire country. The restaurant completely run by women, will cost on average of US $40 per person without beverages. If you’ve experienced the somewhat under trained male waiters at other restaurants in Marrakesh, then the service these ladies offer is a relief. You’ll truly feel like leaving a worthwhile tip.
Overall, these are just a few of the alternative activities available in Marrakech in Morocco. While you might want to stay in a chain hotel with pool for your entire family to enjoy, don’t forget that other activities beckon to be appreciated. Morocco is truly a land of diversity and mystery and finding these hidden treasures will make your time there unforgettable indeed.