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The ultimate family activity holiday, combining mountains and surf and all just 4 hours away from the UK. Trek in the High Atlas Mountains, soak up some culture in Marrakech and then hit the surf on this unique week long adventure.
Morocco is a superb family holiday destination. Just 3.5 hours by plane from the UK and serviced by budget airlines, the country boasts stunning mountain ranges, imperial cities with bustling souks and a coastline that is just perfect for water sports lovers. The Atlas mountains, home to North Africa's highest summit, are home to winding trails, sleepy Berber villages and breath-taking views. Trekking in these unspoilt parts is rewarding and peaceful and whilst it is challenging, there is no reason why children can't enjoy walking in these parts as much as adults.
Meanwhile, on the coast, between the towns of Agadir and Essaouira, there are miles upon miles of beautiful coastline and bays, interspersed with small fishing villages, such as Immessouane. Here, the bays seem to have been designed with surfing in mind, offering both gentle waves and more challenging swell, depending on the tide and wind direction. As for Marrakech, this imperial city remains a jewel in Morocco's crown. Winding souks, crumbling palaces, peaceful gardens and the buzzing central square make it an intriguing place to explore. The different smells, sounds and sights will capture your imagination, whatever your age.
This Morocco family holiday has been designed with active parents and children in mind. The first two days are spent trekking in the High Atlas Mountains in the stunning Imlil and Imnane Valleys. With an extra mule in case the children get tired, the hiking is hard work, but affords some amazing views. After over-nighting in a rural village and a further days trekking, you will return to Marrakech the following evening. The main square in the Medina, the Djemma El Fna, is the perfect first evening for the whole family, with snake charmers, acrobats and musicians to amuse you all and get you in the holiday spirit. After a day of leisure in Marrakech, spent visiting the souks and local sights, you will transfer to the coast and the pretty coastal resort of Sidi Kaouki for 3 days of surfing. During your stay, you will have daily lessons and also plenty of time to practice your technique and to enjoy the laid-back surfing culture.
This family activity holiday is a balance between trekking, surfing and a smattering of culture. It is not a children's holiday, rather it has been designed for parents and children who want to have an active holiday to suit a mixture of tastes and interests.
For the trekking, you all need to be relatively fit. You will walk for about 4-5 hours a day, but as well as being accompanied by a guide and a mule to carry your bags, an additional mule will be provided in case one of the children needs to rest their weary legs. There are two options available for the trek - please choose the one that is most appropriate for your family's fitness and stamina.
Tourdust trek grading: Moderate
As far as the surfing is concerned, this is available for surfers of all levels, from beginner to the advanced. The lessons will be in groups, according to ability. It is a relaxed atmosphere, so whether you or your child is a beginner or a pro, there should be plenty of opportunity to enjoy yourselves together. There is no minimum age for the surfing, as long as your child can swim they are welcome to give it a go.
In Marrakech, we recommend splashing out a little on a nice well located riad, as a calm space where you and your children can relax is an invaluable retreat from the buzz and heat of Marrakech. We can of course also recommend cheaper options if you are on a tight budget.
The time in Marrakech is self-guided and the trekking will be just you. However, for the surfing lessons, you may well be with other people.
This was the first time in years I could a) afford a holiday, b) take a break from other commitments and c) spend a full week (instead of the odd Saturday afternoon) with my kids. For that reason this holiday HAD to be right. So I was careful to shop around. I spoke to several companies that all had euphoric smiling families on their websites but when I spoke to Tourdust it was immediately apparent that they had both on-the-ground experience and a genuine enthusiasm for the destination.
Tourdust did what a travel company are supposed to do – added value; I simply gave them the challenge (two hard to please teenagers, one adventurous and active, the other not so) and they put together a perfect package (e.g. a challenging but short 2 day trek, a mule for back up for the girl who has only ever exercised her finger tips). The week seemed like a month. Holidays usually require so much effort on working out what to do next, how to get from A to B, how NOT to be ripped off etc, but on this holiday all of this stress was lifted. Each time we were transferred from one location to the next it involved no more effort than throwing our things into bags and handing them to an obliging driver. All my attention and energy was therefore spent on enjoying the holiday and most of all watching the kids not just enjoy themselves but surprise me by walking (actually running!) up a mountain and not complaining, sleeping in “basic” accommodation (3 walls and not much more) and telling me it was the most enjoyable night of all, making an effort to understand a culture and see their prejudices disappear, build their confidence in a new language and taste new foods – still can’t believe they both ordered and ate a camel burger!
Thank you Tourdust for delivering the best holiday I’ve ever had and a shared experience with my kids that will be the talking point for many years to come. I only have one outstanding request from Tourdust – where are you taking us next year!
Rebecca can you please make sure that our gratitude to Yousseff is communicated; I appreciate that his job is far from easy – balancing being informative whilst allowing us privacy, encouraging us to take on the challenge but ensuring our safety and comfort. He did a thoroughly professional job – constantly attentive to our needs and providing us with a wealth of knowledge about the locality that made the trek a much richer experience than it would have been. To my delight my kids were very interested in Morocco’s culture and religion and they quizzed Yousseff extensively. He was very generous in sharing his own perspective despite some of the questions being a little undiplomatic. His pride of Morocco and especially of the local area challenged our western materialistic perception of what is of value and this was the best souvenir we took home with us.
Also could you make sure to thank the manager (Tino?) of Windy Kaouki for going out of his way to provide an alternative WiFi network connection after the usual one failed. I cannot over state how important this was to me; if I could not have responded to the support call on that Thursday evening I may have lost a major contract I’ve held for 12 years. So please pass on my thanks to him.
My kids and I came up with a few suggestions that we think would have made the trip more enjoyable:
1. If the drivers could speak English it would have added to the experience – we were lucky enough to have Yousseff with us on the trip from the Atlas Mountains to Marakech and it would have been nice to have someone speaking English on all journeys to answer all our questions about the surroundings.
2. I would advise anyone staying in small places like Sidi Kauoki not to eat in any of the small local establishments but to stick with the hotel; my son got very sick from a burger in a sea front Café.
3. Quad biking would have been great if it had been included
4. €20 for a 10 minute trip from Beldi Country Club to the airport is extortionate
Finally Rebecca, thank you for taking on the responsibility of organising my holiday. Your commitment and attention to detail was no less than what I imagine you’d dedicate to your own holiday plans.
john thompson reviewing Morocco Family Holiday: Marrakech, Trek & Surf
Overall it was an Excellent holiday great time had by all, organisation like transfers always very smooth and professional.
Trekking with personal guide excellent, muleteers and chef great, trek just right level for us.
Riad Bel Haj excellent high class accommodation, luxurious, staff very friendly, ideal situation for exploring, peaceful in heart of the old city. Strongly recommend it.
Riad Ribali excellent spacious luxurious, staff very helpful. Meal in was excellent. Also strongly recommend.
Surfing lessons fantastic. Instructors great strongly recommend.
Selwyn Richards reviewing Morocco Family Holiday: Marrakech, Trek & Surf
We had a great time. The boys enjoyed trekking - although I think it was more of a mule ride than a real trek! The guide was fantastic and realised quickly that Tristan walked faster and whined less if he held his hand rather than Adeline! Food was amazing throughout this part of the trip. Dylan was not overly impressed with squat toilets - but learnt to get on with it fairly quickly!
Surfing was a big hit - Dylan's favorite part of the trip. The surf instructor (Mohamed) was brilliant with them all. Adeline's only comment on this was that the driver did not know where he was taking her on the way there (I think she called the office at this point).
Accommodation and food for the first week was great according to Adeline and the boys.
Nicola Walters reviewing Morocco Family Holiday: Marrakech, Trek & Surf
We would like to thank you for all your advice and pre trip departure information that you gave us. It proved to be most informative and helpful.
Where to start?
The transport and drivers were all very helpful and punctual and ensured that throughout the transfers they were able to enlighten our journey with facts and stories.
The surf team were patient, great with the children and even managed to coax me to stand on the board. We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and surfing somewhere different each day, giving us a real insight into coastal life. Mohammed really made the experience fun and diverse.
The accommodation was clean, quiet and the staff very attentive at the coast.
Riad Wo, really was WOW! A peaceful haven amongst the busy hassle and bustle of the city. Again the staff were attentive and always there in the background if we needed guidance, help or a mint tea. The children especially loved the pancakes each morning for breakfast!
All in all a truly memorial trip. If you can pass on my thanks to all involved in making our holiday a superb experience.
Joanna Johnson reviewing Morocco Family Holiday: Marrakech, Trek & Surf
I have nothing but praise for both your company and the people that you deal with. My initial contact with Ben and Anna was wonderful, they are both friendly, helpful and were always ready with a comforting or helpful reply when called upon. From the get go I knew that I had struck it lucky in my dealings with Tourdust.
Mustafa collected us from Marrakech train station, he was quiet but efficient and went out of his way to find a bank machine for us so that we would not be stuck for dirhams. As we drove further into the mountains his pride in his home village became apparent as he opened up a little and began to point out little things of interest. In Imlil we were met immediately by Hamid (of Dar Adrar) who escorted us to the gite. Upon arrival he showed us to our rooms and prepared the first of many mint teas that we were to sample in our time in Morocco. Realising that we may struggle to find somewhere to eat for lunch, seeing as it was Eid al Adha, he did not hesitate to offer us lunch, a tasty omelette and salad was promptly delivered to us in a cosy sitting room. Hamid was so hospitable and a pleasure to deal with. The rooms are exactly what we expected them to be - better in fact. They were comfortable and clean and typically rustic. The views from the terrace were breath-taking. Early on that first afternoon, a roaring fire was lit and we snuggled up and relaxed, reading our books in the tranquil atmosphere of the gite. Dinner was served and was a delight. We met with Mohamed as we were retiring to bed and he suggested we be ready to leave around 9.30 the next morning - perfect. After a good nights sleep, we hate a wonderful breakfast and set out. The guide (Lassan) was wonderful - a very experienced guide with years of training. He was talkative and absolutely marvellous with Katy (my nine year old daughter). The chef, Ibrahim was a bit of a wonder, we really couldn't figure out how he could consistently provide such wonderful meals on a portable stove. Mention must also be made of Hassan the other local that escorted the mule - he was constantly helpful and looked after Katy so well. The overnight in the village was wonderful, the Gite d'Etape, whilst expectedly basic, was a great night. The owner was present much of the time but stayed in the background making sure everything was running smoothly. There was only one slight glitch which was unavoidable I suppose, we had not realised that we would not be returning to Dar Adrar after the hike and had left many of our belongings there. We were met in the village by Mustafa for the return journey to Marrakech with all of our belongings but they had missed Katys two pairs of shoes that had been left in the communal shoe area, it was not a big deal and we were not put out at all.
Mohamed had organised everything to perfection, we were met in Marrakech by Direse the man with a cart who steered us through the Marrakech back alleys like a pro. At breakneck speeds we careened through the frenetic streets until we finally arrived at Riad Boussa. Anyone who has never been to Marrakech before may have worried that they were being sucked into some little side alley for dodgy dealings but I knew the score. The door to Riad Boussa opened and we were led into this oasis. The first words my daughter gasped were 'it’s a sanctuary' and she was so right. The wonderful scent of essential oils drifted in the soft candle lit air. We were made comfortable by Madame Grillion and brought yet another round of the ubiquitous mint tea. Madame Grillion sat with us and went through a map of Marrakech with super suggestions for both sights to see and restaurants. We took all of her tips and were delighted with each one. Special mention needs to be made of Dejeuner de Marrakech for lunch. We had a wonderful time exploring Marrakech and enjoyed the many sights and sounds of this truly colorful city.
The next morning, after another tasty breakfast in Riad Boussa, Madame Grillion confirmed our driver was on the way and Direse was called upon to guide us to Djem el Fnaa once more. Mohammed, our driver delivered us safely to Sidi Kaouki and all was fine. There had been quite a lot of inclement weather which had caused some problems for the taxi service and the surf school Blue Morocco but nothing that we were aware of in any negative way. The first afternoon the weather meant we were unable to have a surf lesson but I think we all welcomed the time for relaxation. There was a little confusion about meals with the Auberge owner (Auberge de la Plage), I believe her name was Francoise but I may be wrong, I am afraid it has slipped my mind. The surf instructors and owner of the school were all so friendly and really went out of their way to make the lessons an experience as opposed to just a lesson. The owner of Blue Morocco was friendly and a pleasure to deal with.
Sonja Owens reviewing Morocco Family Holiday: Marrakech, Trek & Surf
In the past I have always been a believer in independently organising my own holidays, as that has always been part of my holiday experience. However, I was wary about taking my wife and children (aged 15,14 and 10) on an adventure without some help to organise the trip. After some careful searching on-line I found 'Tourdust' who organise adventure travel 'everywhere'. All the reviews raved about their services, so I sent them an email...
Ben and Anna helped us plan a eleven day holiday to include trekking in the Atlas Mountains, exploring Marrakesh and surfing on the Atlantic coast. Using their wide knowledge they made some excellent suggestions and encouraged us to make choices that would not have occurred to me had I booked independently. This included an excellent last minute suggestion, based on up to date weather information, to stay in the mountains on our first night rather than in the heat of Marrakesh. They were also immediately on the case, by phone, when our taxi failed to turn up on the last day to take us back to the airport.
I could rave for a long time about the holiday; the amazing cooking on the trek, the beautiful Riad in Marrakesh and the friendly surf instructors... but you need to experience it yourself. I am complete convert to their style of adventure travel and knowledgeable advice and would think twice before attempting to organise my own holiday again, especially if travelling as a family.
PATRICK RICHARDSON reviewing Morocco Family Holiday: Marrakech, Trek & Surf
we had a great time, all of the people we worked with were great, everything went pretty smooth.
A couple of bits which may help you when booking this for others:-
- Day one of the trekking we arrived with not enough water, believing that they would already have it for us to buy, luckily one of the guys had his car and drove off and got us some.
- Food was traditional and excellent!
- At the surf place due to Ramadan we couldn't stay at the centre but was placed in a hotel 200 yards away which had no electricity!! however living including showering by candle light was fab, we played cards, chess and read a lot of books which was great for the kids and i would sell this!!
- There was some confusion over the use of the surf boards outside of the lessons, they were very good about it but insisted that one of them was present at all times. This felt like we added a lot of pressure on them and as such rarely did it, partly because it was Ramadan and in the afternoons when we wanted to go out they were sleeping. To be honest we went to go out on 3 occasions and weren't able to. The team were great so i don't want you to go back and criticise but recognise that during Ramadan its far more complicated and if the equipment is to be used outside of the lessons that it has to fit in with them as well.
Ian Harbour reviewing Morocco Family Holiday: Marrakech, Trek & Surf
The trip was a huge hit... A massive success
The trekking was good... We were a bit out of shape but our guide was amazing. He just got it and was super knowledgeable. I really think he was the gem. We were cold at night even though we had terrific sleeping bags but that is part of the fun.
The people from the surf school were awesome. The accomodation was a wee bit to funky for us and the man moved us into a super duper cute little studio bedroom with terrace near the village. He was terrific even had everyone to his house for dinner one night and that was one of the best meals I ever had. The surf instructor was perfect.
I found tourdust online and I am sure after our amazing trip that they are a gift from heaven. In two days they created a personal trip for me and my 10 year old son. We wanted adventure,surfing and hiking and it was feb half term we had 5 days to travel...ben and anna could not have been cooler or more organised. We knew every detail of our trip and had an itinerary that met our individual needs and interests. We even had a hand drawn map where no map had existed before. Both harry and I were sorry that the rest of our family couldn’t be with us but feel that we lucked out with our wonderful adventure.
ElizabethWalker reviewing Morocco Family Holiday: Marrakech, Trek & Surf