Morocco: Marrakech

Places to Stay
The Hotel Minaret is a quaint little establishment that offers you a double bed, full bath, and generous hospitality for 200 dirhams.

Places to See
Marrakech is definitely the most lively city you will visit in Morocco. The Jamaa El Fna square is a definite stop on your trip through Marrakech. Located at the edge of the medina, the square bustles with people trying to entertain you, feed you, and sell you something. It’s a wonderful feeling! The medina is full of great shops as well, and you should do most of your souvenir shopping here.

The Ville Nouvelle is the more modern part of Marrakech. Within the Ville Nouvelle is the Majorelle Gardens. Once owned by a French painter, this garden boasts a wide variety of botanicals, set around a house painted in the most amazing color blue. Admission is 20 dirhams.

If you have time, I highly suggest taking a horse-and-buggy ride through Marrakech. For 80 dirhams, this 1½ hour adventure takes you through both old and new Marrakech, as well as the Jardin Minara.

Places to Eat
We had dinner in the Jamaa El Fna square the first night. At stand #74, Bamiloud Baoulo serves up great lamb and chicken dishes. If you so dare, you can even get camel breast (tastes like chicken!). A must have at any restaurant is mint tea. It’s yummy and keeps you warm on those cold nights.

For a more dramatic atmosphere, visit Chez Ali. It’s a little touristy, but very entertaining. Located 7 km outside of Marrakech, men on horses greet you at the entrance of the castle. As you walk the grounds, you are entertained by musical groups from different tribes/cultures in Morocco (who later visit you during dinner). Upon entering the tent, you feast on traditional Moroccan cuisine: harira soup, lamb, couscous with vegetables, fruit, and mint tea.

And just when you think it can’t get any better, there’s more. A nighttime show full of horse acrobatics, dancing, music, and fireworks await you after dinner.
The cost: 400 dirhams per person.

Transportation
We took the train from Casablanca to Marrakech. One ticket costs 144 dirham (roundtrip). The train ride is four hours, and it gives you the opportunity to view Morocco in its true beauty – with its small villages surrounded by a sunset sky of baby-blue, lavender, and rose, contrasted by the red hills of the countryside.

Petit Taxis also abound in Marrakech.

Other Travel
At Menara Tours, you are able to buy tour packages to see the sites just outside of Marrakech. Our guide, Mounir, took us to the Ouzode waterfalls, located in the Atlas mountains. The 1½ hour drive to the falls met us with eucalyptus-lined streets, small villages, winding roads, and olive trees. The waterfalls of Ouzode are majestic, and you are able to hike from the top of the falls to the bottom, and back up.

E-mail and other services
There is an e-mail service center on Rue de Bab Agnaou, the promenade leading to the medina.

Marrakech has both official and “unofficial” tour guides. You probably will not need either if you are fluent in French or Arabic. However, if you do decide to get a tour guide, make sure that you get an official one. They can be identified by a badge. Marrakech tends to crack down on unofficial tour guides more than other cities in Morocco.

Questions?
If you want more information about this area you can email the author or check out our Africa Insiders page.

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