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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.
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.
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.
Monsieur Aztat 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