As the weather here in New York City starts to get a little more chilly, I’m finding myself daydreaming more and more about going back to the heat of Morocco. We were primarily staying around the city of Marrakech, but decided to venture out of the city to get away from the hustle and bustle to relax in the shadows of the Atlas Mountains. This is how we found our way to the Kasbah Bab Ourika.
Kasbah Bab Ourika is probably the furthest away from a tourist area within the Marrakech vicinity that you can get. To get there you are led onto a dirt road and through winding village streets. We had the Kasbah set up a car service to navigate us throughout the streets. It was nice to have someone drive us that knew the area by heart. It was a beautiful experience though—getting to see Morocco in its natural state without people pandering to tourists.
Once you are finished meandering up the path to the Kasbah, you are led up to the hill and at the top of the hill is the Kasbah. What a beautiful sight it is! The scene surrounding the Kasbah is entirely different than Marrakech. It is complete tranquility. You are led on to the grounds and immediately feel at home.
While all the rooms are amazing there, we opted for a room with its own private pool. Best. Decision. Ever. Aaron and I loved to just relax here all day in the Moroccan sun. They have a pool in their gardens for guests to use, but there was something extra special about being able to soak up the rays at any moment just by stepping outside of our living room door.
Without a doubt, though, one of the best experiences Aaron and I had in Morocco was riding camels through the towns that surround the Kasbah. We truly felt like we were one with our surroundings. The Kasbah arranged the camels/guide for us and our guide was wonderful. All of the people in the neighborhoods knew him. One thing that was kind of fun was that he let Aaron try on his local “Berber” outfit. It was so unique and definitely a first! There’s also a tradition of eating a snack down by the riverbed, so we all feasted on a watermelon and watched as all the kids in the community played together. Everyone was simply so joyful. They also loved Aaron’s long hair and thought it was very funny-haha.
Another activity we enjoyed was exploring the local markets. I literally had my arms full of wicker baskets by the time we left the Kasbah. Our local guide took us around the markets which were full of everything you could imagine. They even had a section for guys to get their beards trimmed! There were spices galore and so many hand made pottery items. We actually bought a mug from a vendor for around 15 cents. The prices were ridiculously inexpensive since we were away from the tourist area! While in downtown Marrakech, I got the sense much of the market was designed for tourists to buy gifts, but out near the Kasbah, it was completely about the community supplying goods for the rest of the community.
Another memory we made on our day trek was that we visited a Saffron farm. It was incredible to see how the delicate and rare plant is produced. At the farm, they also had a very fun barefoot trail. Basically, every step you take is a new element—sand, rocks, wood, grass, water, etc. You spend about 15 minutes going from element to element barefoot so that you can feel connected to the earth. I, personally, loved the rose petal soak for my feet. Never experienced anything like it!
Side note—the donkey’s on the farm were soooooo cute!
After a long day of camel trekking or shopping at one of the markets, we would go back to the hotel. Aaron would relax in the pool while I would get a massage. The massage at the Kasbah was so relaxing! They used local Moroccan Argan Oil and it smelled like a total dream. I actually ended up falling alseep-haha. I love taking the time to get a massage when I can and this one was so worth it!
If you want a great view of the sunset, Kasbah Bab Ourika has you covered. Aaron and I would make our way to the edge of the property and sit on chairs overlooking the countryside. It was picture perfect. We loved looking into the distance at other rooftops. On them would be local families gathered around watching the sunset as well. It was such a great feeling of unity with the community. It was just beautiful to see everyone connecting by watching the same sunset.
And what would an article about Morocco be without talking about the food? The food at the Kasbah Bab Ourika was without a doubt 100% Moroccan Cuisine! Almost all of the main dishes were served in tagines and had unbelievable flavors. The setting of every meal we ate at the Kasbah was outside on their patio. As with almost all locations at the Kasbah, it looked out onto the Atlas Mountains and was a sight to behold. Watching the sunrise and set while eating breakfast and dinner was something I’ll never forget.
On your next journey to Marrakech, try thinking outside the box just a little bit. Venture to the outskirts and get another perspective for the Moroccan way of life. We loved our time at Kasbah Bab Ourika and know a trek there would be well worth it!