Located 180km (112 miles) west of Marrakech, this 18th-century walled coastal outpost and UNESCO World Heritage site is a trading and fishing port with a history dating back to the seventh century BC. With its silky-sand beach and blue-and-white-painted houses, it has a long association with artists, who are a clearly visible part of life in Essaouira today. It now also boasts some gorgeous places to stay. A series of stone forts built along the seafront in a blend of Portuguese, French and Berber military architecture lend a powerful mystique to the town. The cooling Atlantic breeze has made it popular for surfing, windsurfing, and kite-boarding, although the stiff wind and choppy waves require advanced skills. Sunbathing, games of football and jogging along the beach are all popular activities. On the way to Essaouira, one has to cross the Argan tree territory where it is possible to spot the mythical flying goats, perched on trees for pictures. Originally, the goats would climb up the trees to nibble the fruits of the tree, but as interest in them grew, the shepherds now put them there to attract tourists who are willing to pay some coins to take pictures.
Leave Marrakech behind as you join a day trip to Ourika Valley, a lush oasis of vegetation in the foothills of the magnificent Atlas Mountains.
The Ourika Valley spreads between the first foothills of the Atlas Mountains, extending along the Wadi River. Despite it being so close to Marrakech, this beautiful green valley is one of the most pristine valleys in Morocco. Enjoy a guided visit of a herb garden where you are served traditional mint tea by the local people before heading back to Marrakech. If you happen to go there on Monday or Friday, you will have the chance to discover the local weekly Berber market. It is a great opportunity to get in touch with the locals and see how they go about their weekly shopping activities.
The world famous Ouzoud Waterfalls (110 m high) are located in the Grand Atlas village of Tanaghmeilt (Province of Azilal, 150 Km north-east of Marrakech).
These are definitely one of the prettiest falls in Morocco and in Northern Africa as a whole. They're truly stunning at any time of the year, especially during heavy rain.The falls are the most visited site in this region, even by the locals. The surrounding landscape is made up of idyllic green valleys, mills, orchards and the dramatic gorges of the 'El Abid' river or 'Slaves river' in Arabic.
You can even go swimming there, at the bottom of the falls. Access is through a shaded path of olive trees. As the sun begins to fade, you can see whole troops of monkeys playing in the twilight - very surreal.
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