by Tara Stevens, The Telegraph, October 30, 2017
1. Motorcyle diaries
Marrakech Insiders offers bespoke tours on retro Russian Ural motorbikes and sidecars, led by expat experts. Choose from a short taster tour that gets you under the skin of the Red City; a more adventurous trip to the magical, colour-shifting Agafay stone desert; or zipping through the High Atlas with the world at your feet.
The most basic, 1½-hour tour with Marrakech Insiders (00212 669 699 374; marrakechinsiders.com) costs £140 for one or two people sharing a sidecar; a full-day adventure costs £305.
2. Souk cuisine
The women behind pioneering tour company Plan-It-Morocco have come up with some cool alternatives to the ubiquitous food tour.
Available in Fez and Marrakech, their gourmet treasure hunts in the souks involve dividing guests into teams, then setting them loose with a shopping list, a budget and a set time in which to gather ingredients for a tangia (a richly spiced stew, cooked in a terracotta urn).
Plan-It-Morocco (00212 535 638 708; plan-it-morocco.com) offers a range of tours and experiences. Foodie treasure hunts last about three hours and cost £150, based on a minimum of four participants.
3. On the beach
Located three hours from Marrakech, on a pristine stretch of unspoilt coast between Safi and El Jadida, Beach Camp Adounia is an ocean-lover’s alternative to Sahara glamping.
Billowing white tents pitched among the dunes provide the base for a range of activities, from galloping (or lolloping) along the sand on a horse or camel, to learning to surf or serenely practising your asanas as the sun sets over the Atlantic. Nightly campfires, barbecued fish and star-spangled night skies enrich the experience.
Camp Adounia (00212 661 215 062; campadounia.com/camp/beach-camp) offers affordable retreats with prices from £80 per night for adults, £45 children under 10, full-board.
4. Architectural Odyssey
To celebrate its 15th anniversary this year, Dar Ahlam – a boutique hotel near Ouarzazate – has created a circular trip through the misty mountains and honey-coloured gorges of the South to incorporate overnight stops at three more of its properties. At the Maison des Arganiers you’ll get an authentic taste of Berber village life from the comfort of a contemporary rammed-earth farmhouse. On the road to Timbuktu, you’ll stop in the biggest oasis in Morocco where a Mauritania-inspired cottage offers shade beneath a camel-hair canopy. La Maison Rouge (designed by the creators of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech) is a study in 21st-century Sahara life.
An all-inclusive three-night experience out of Dar Ahlam (00212 524 85 22 39; darahlam.com) costs from £1,025 per night for two.
5. La Route du Coeur
This classic car rally enters its 25th year in 2018 (March 10-16) with an updated route incorporating new destinations, better hotels and roads not yet travelled. Open to only 30 crews, the race starts in Tangier and crosses the Rif Mountains, continuing through Tetouan to the imperial city of Fez, then on to the Middle Atlas and Merzouga, gateway to the Sahara. It ends at Churchill’s old haunt, La Mamounia hotel in Marrakech.
Driving La Route du Coeur (0033 680 965 785; rallye-maroc-classic.com) costs £8,900 for two people for seven nights. The price includes accommodation, meals, plus roadside and medical assistance.
6. Desert magic
Glamping base Erg Chigaga takes luxury desert living to the next level. Located 40 miles from the nearest road, the main camp comprises just 11 tents, each generously appointed with plush Berber carpets, cloud-like beds, and en suite eco bathrooms. Dotted among the dunes are chill-out lounges and hammocks. However, it is the sheer majesty of the desert landscape that will stay with you forever.
All-inclusive experiences at Erg Chigaga Desert Camp (00212 654 398 520; desertcampmorocco.com) last a minimum of three days (two nights), and cost £650 per person including transfer from Marrakech.
7. Soul surfing
The grooviest beach scene in Morocco is in the charming little town of Taghazout, a 30-minute drive north of Agadir. Days are spent riding the waves, and sundowners come only after an intensive session of flow yoga.
Few properties in the town are as perfectly formed as Munga Guesthouse. Overlooking Fisherman’s Beach, it fuses Amazigh and African decor with driftwood chic, and unique features including the swing bed in the Mowgli’s Lair suite.
Munga Guesthouse (00212 528 200 202; mungaguesthouse.com) offers stays in a mini suite from £130 per night. A half-day surf lesson with picnic included costs £60; a full-day surf safari by vintage Land Rover £120; and yoga classes £40.
8. Floating on air
Ciel d’Afrique has been hosting hot-air balloon flights over Marrakech and the surrounding region since 1990. Taking off at sunrise from the plains outside the city, the flight affords extraordinary views of the Atlas Mountains, olive groves, date oases, deep valley gorges and remote Berber villages. Back on terra firma, you’ll be treated to a traditional Berber breakfast in a ceremonial caidal tent.
Ciel d’Afrique (00212 524 432 843; ciel-dafrique.com) offers flights from £165 per person, including transfers from hotel to launch site.
9. Mountain highs
In a country with four distinct ranges (Rif, Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti Atlas) it’s hard to resist a hike. Aztat Treks employs an experienced team of mountain guides, sherpas, cooks and muleteers to take guests on treks ranging from two to seven days in length, with varying degrees of difficulty. While Toubkal, the country’s highest peak, is firmly in the sights of many, there are plenty of lesser-known summits to climb.
Aztat Treks (00212 668 760 165; atlastrekshop.com) charges £190 per person for a two-day trek for two. Family options are available.
10. Kite nirvana
The coastal town of Dakhla, in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, has a lagoon renowned for watersports. Ocean Vagabond offers kite surfing, wind surfing and stand-up paddleboarding to experts and beginners alike. If bobbing about on the surf is not your style, the company’s eco-lodge has boutique cabanas, complete with shady day beds, nudging the edge of the water. The food spans Mediterranean and Moroccan cuisines, including local seafood – and there’s an excellent massage cabin for that essential pampering.
Kite surfing lessons at Ocean Vagabond (00212 613 037 861; oceanvagabond.com) cost from £70 for two hours (maximum four per class). Accommodation starts at £115 for two people sharing a Young Blood Bungalow, including airport transfers, three meals per day, drinking water and Wi-Fi.