Exploring Jardin Majorelle

For our last few days in Morocco, we headed back to Marrakech for a brief stopover before making our way to the coast to see El Jadida and then on to Casablanca to catch our flight home.

Our base for our second stint in Marrakech was another riad booked through Airbnb, this time in a different part of the medina. The new location was definitely easier to find than the last one, though it was by no means simple. Being in a different part of town (roughly a 40 min walk across the centre of the medina from our last one) meant that we had easy walking access to some new restaurants and the Jardin Majorelle, the last attraction on our list for this trip.

Continue reading “Exploring Jardin Majorelle”

It’s here! Camel Ride Day

Finally, it has arrived. Camel ride day!

Katy first read about Kasbah Ellouze on the Conversant Traveller blog while researching our trip. For a more detailed look at the hotel, their post is worth the read. It was there that Katy first read about the house camels. Not just any camels though, camels named Ella and Stan. Ella had been looking forward to meeting and riding them ever since. Continue reading “It’s here! Camel Ride Day”

Heading into the High Atlas Mountains

After a few great days in Marrakech it was time to say goodbye to Saida and our beautiful riad and head up into the High Atlas mountains.

We met our driver/guide Yahya at the Porte de Sidi Mimoun, where the maze of the neighbourhood we were staying in meets the main street. From there we loaded up the car and hit the road.

The drive to our destination, Kasbah Ellouze, is about 4 hours from Marrakech, but our plan has us making a couple of stops along the way and taking the scenic older road that follows the former caravan route rather than the new highway.

Our first stop was to have lunch. Normally this wouldn’t be notable but for two things. First, lunch was at a small restaurant on a section of the highway that would see us pass over the highest road point in Morocco. Second, we met a nameless but very cute dog. Sadly we had to leave him behind. Continue reading “Heading into the High Atlas Mountains”

Setti Fatma Waterfalls – More fun than we expected

As much as we enjoy exploring a new city, we’re always happiest when we can get out and do something active. Having biked around Marrakech, it was time to head out on foot and hike our way up to see some waterfalls at Setti Fatma (aka Sitti Fadma).

Ok, so, we didn’t set out on foot right away. There was the matter of a 2 hour drive from the city before we could get started. This also included stops to visit a pottery maker and tour a traditional Berber home.

Pottery – It’s not all in the name

Our first stop outside the city was a small pottery making/tourist operation. We had a short but interesting demonstration of how the pottery is made, fired and decorated. Katy even had a chance to give it a try. As for Ella and I, we may have Potter in our name, but we know when to leave things to the professionals.

After a while, we started to get closer to the mountains and into the Berber villages. Our next stop was a 300 year old Berber family home. By no means a modern home, it was big enough for the three generations that currently live there. The most interesting part for me was how a stream had been integrated into the home, first powering a watermill used to turn a grindstone before flowing through the kitchen.

A walk in the park

A short drive from the Berber home we reached Setti Fatma. There we met Sulaiman (not sure about the spelling, going on my history course reading here) who would be our guide for the hike.

The walk started off easily enough. We made our way along a road, across a bridge, climbed some stairs and through a number of restaurants and stalls lining the riverbank.

After that we were surprised to find it starting to get a little more technical than we expected. We were pleasantly surprised as we scrambled across rocks and hopped back and forth across the river. More fun than a simple walk in the park. For her part, Ella insisted on leading the way, taking help from Sulaiman and me only when absolutely necessary. Before long we were at the first waterfall and enjoying a quick snack.

You’re sure we’ll be able to get back down, right?

After the first waterfall the plan was for us to visit two more. Unfortunately, flooding earlier in the week had washed out the ladder needed to continue. It looked like we would have to turn back and cut the hike short. Then Sulaiman asked if we would be interested in “going a little higher”.

“Ah, sure” we said, not really knowing what that meant. He seemed to like the answer though and we set off for another path. You see that 50% incline in the middle of the altitude profile of our walk? Yep, that’s where we went. ‘Wall’ would have been as accurate a description as ‘path’ as it turned out.

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As we started climbing it was clear that Katy was getting a little uncomfortable with the prospect of having to come back down this climb, especially with a 5 year old along for the ride.

When I asked Suleiman whether we came back down the same route he almost laughed at the idea and reassured us that we would come back down a much smoother incline. Then again, it was still along the edge of a steep cliff though so we kept a close eye on Ella.

Back down in Setti Fatma we had a quick lunch and climbed back into the truck with Hamza for the ride back to Marrakech just as the rain started.

A Kosy drink

For dinner that night we made our way over to Kosybar for dinner. The only restaurant we’ve visited so far with an alcohol license. It was nice to have a drink on the rooftop terrace while we waited for dinner, at least until it started to rain again.

In the end even the rain turned out to be a positive and another example of the prefered treatment we get when travelling with Ella in countries like Morocco.

While everyone else was crammed around little tables near the bar, we were shown to the spa at the back of the restaurant (I don’t know why it was there either) where there was a single table next to the pool.

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Not a bad way to spend our last evening in Marrakech before we head into the Atlas Mountains.

Marrakech by bike

Sadly, our second night of sleep in Morocco wasn’t as magical as the first. Ignoring the fatigue we dragged ourselves out of bed for our first full day in the city. There’s really no better way to get around a city than by bike so that’s how we started our day. Filled with a delicious breakfast made by Saida, we set out to to find Mohamed L. (there are three in the company so the initial is important, he said) at Argon Sports bike tours.

Bikes are the new buses

While we still love a good hop-on-hop-off bus ride, bike tours have taken their place as our first stop when looking for ways to explore a new city. First, it’s way more fun to ride a bike than sit on a bus. Second, we get to interact with a live guide on a private or small tour, both during the stops and as we ride along. Third, making your way through traffic on a bike is a great way to get a feel for a city. Continue reading “Marrakech by bike”

Getting a taste for Marrakech

After a great night’s sleep in Casablanca we set off for Marrakech, a roughly 3.5 hour journey by train.

The trip started in confusion, not ours but that of several other passengers on the train. A system based on knowing where you sit based on class of fare + car number + cabin + seat, all listed on your ticket seemed fairly straight forward, but not so much for others. Continue reading “Getting a taste for Marrakech”

To build a great mosque you need to break a few eggs

Travel time again. For those of you counting, this is trip number two since the launch of DJG and Katy’s implementation of a temporary travel ban. Clearly her need to travel is stronger than her fear that we’ll starve with me making a startup income instead of a corporate paycheque. That, or her confidence in the eventual success of DJG is growing 😉

This time, we’re off to Morocco. It’s a short trip, relatively speaking, so we won’t see all the highlights of the country, but it should be a nice appetizer. Continue reading “To build a great mosque you need to break a few eggs”

Swimming with the sharks… literally.

When we were planning our trip to South Africa, one activity that came up as something we should consider was cage diving with great white sharks. Jaws was released when I was a little kid and has probably contributed to my growing up with a healthy fear of sharks. That I would get up at some ungodly hour in the morning and pay good money to be thrown in a small cage with strangers while some other strangers gleefully chum the water… Well, let’s just say it wasn’t an idea about which I didn’t have any second thoughts. But, what the hell, what could possibly go wrong. DSC_0068---Version-2 Continue reading “Swimming with the sharks… literally.”

Exploring Table Mountain

Without our personal guides in Cape Town to show us all the ins and outs from a local perspective, we decided to hit up the town in true tourist style. If you’ve read posts like this one, or this one, or even this one from previous trips, you know that this sometimes means a City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus.

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Continue reading “Exploring Table Mountain”

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