Starting point: Kasbah Timdaf near Demnate for five nights. Demnate flourished as a meeting place for merchants heading towards the coast from the Atlas and Sahara who were looking to procure foreign imports. The name means 'fertile land' in the local Tachelhit dialect and the greenery of the surrounding landscape testifies to this description.
You are free to relax and simply immerse yourself in your tranquil surroundings, perhaps finding a shady corner of the garden for a quiet read; or maybe borrowing your hosts' bikes for a leisurely ride through the immediate countryside. During your stay your host will take you to the lively souk in nearby Demnate to buy spices and ingredients before you help to prepare a delicious lunch back at the hotel. To see this fascinating region in more detail, we include two privately guided walks and one privately guided excursion with a short walk to the Ouzoud waterfalls and suggest a fourth day's guided walk if you are booking an extra night:
• Fakirs, potters & a travertine bridge (12km 5-6hrs): wander through lush cultivated fields, orchards and olive groves to reach a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the ancient town of Demnate. At the small village of Ait Maiad, home to a large Koranic school, you can visit the mosque and meet the local fakir (Islamic holy man), before continuing to the village of Boutghart, famed for its distinctive yellow pottery. After crossing the River Mhassir, you reach the remarkable natural travertine (tufa-like limestone) bridge of Imi N’Ifri over the gorge, formed some 1.8 million years ago.
• Ksars, souks & mellahs (8km 5hrs): a gentle walk leads to the village of Bureo, which boasts one of the few remaining ksars (fortified granaries) in the region. After crossing the River Mhassir, you wander through green fields and shady olive groves, passing quiet villages before looping round to Demnate. Here, you can explore the colourful souk, wander down its narrow streets and discover the historic mellah (the city's fortified Jewish quarter).
• The Cascades d’Ouzoud: (5km 1hr30)a 50-minute taxi ride (included) takes you to where the River Ouzoud drops over 100 metres down three large tiers into the canyon below. Though the view from the base of the falls is most impressive in early spring, it is worth making the descent into the cooler air of Oued el Abid (oued means valley), where rainbows shimmer in the spray, whatever the time of year. Enjoy a typically Moroccan tagine and couscous lunch, before walking downstream where there are plenty of clear pools for a welcome swim.
• In the footsteps of dinosaurs: optional walk that can be booked if taking an extra night. From the travertine bridge mentioned above at Imi N'Ifri, you follow the gorge through picturesque Berber villages to reach Iouaridene, where you can see a most remarkable sight – Stegosaurus footprints dating from the mid-Jurassic period, about 170 million years ago.
Today, you are transferred to Marrakesh, arriving at one of our hand-picked riads in plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely lunch of tasty Moroccan cuisine. In the afternoon, we include a guided tour that helps you get your bearings amid all the spectacular sites and souks.
You are free to explore Marrakesh at your leisure, experiencing the unique atmosphere of this chaotic and colourful city, set within ochre-coloured ramparts. Make sure you don't miss Djemaa El Fna, the large, open square that forms the heart of the city. It is here that dozens of acrobats, musicians, dancers and storytellers gather to amuse the crowds.
Extend your stay
For a complete contrast and some fresh sea air, add three nights in Essaouira on the Atlantic Coast. With its ancient walls and archways, sheltered bay and bustling harbour, it’s a delightful place to relax, to explore the winding cobbled streets of the medina, or to stroll along the seafront and sample delicious fresh fish dishes at open-air restaurants after watching the fishermen bring in their catch. Stay at one of our carefully selected riads, stylish hotels reflecting both the atmosphere and charm of this beguiling city and offering first-class hospitality.