When it comes to exploring Morocco, visitors often focus on the vibrant city of Marrakech. However, there is a growing desire among travelers to experience the country beyond its bustling streets. With increased accessibility from Europe and the U.S., tourists are now seeking to uncover the quieter and more nature-centric aspects of Morocco. International travel designer Alex Wix, the co-founder of Marrakech-based travel agency Wix Squared, notes that people are yearning to venture off the beaten path and discover the serene beauty that lies in the mountains, along the coast, and within the desert landscapes.
Exploring Beyond Marrakech: During their time in Marrakech, Wix and her husband, James, have made it a priority to explore the areas surrounding the cultural capital. Their aim is to curate sustainable travel experiences, working with hotels and accommodations that contribute positively to the environment. The couple has discovered hidden gems that offer a different perspective of Morocco, providing visitors with opportunities to appreciate nature, indulge in authentic cuisine, and revel in tranquility.
Olinto – Refined Accommodations in the Atlas Mountains: One such gem is Olinto, an exquisite retreat nestled in the Atlas Mountains, just an hour away from Marrakech. This idyllic haven offers breathtaking landscapes, adventurous trekking trails, exhilarating mountain biking routes, and the chance to savor homemade tagine dishes on the terraces of Berber villagers’ homes. Olinto provides a serene escape where the aromas of cumin, cinnamon, and saffron blend harmoniously with the panoramic views.
Essaouira – Coastal Charms and Cultural Richness: While Marrakech enchants travelers, the coastal city of Essaouira offers a captivating alternative. Known for its Jewish history, Portuguese fortifications, and favorable winds for kite surfing, Essaouira has experienced a surge in popularity over the past decade. The city center has transformed into a vibrant hub of international cafes and a bustling medina. Travelers seeking a laid-back coastal retreat can find solace in Essaouira’s evolving charms.
Les Jardins de Villa Maroc – A Countryside Retreat: Just outside Essaouira, Les Jardins de Villa Maroc presents a serene countryside escape. Originally a private villa, the owners expanded the property, adding 11 unique accommodation structures known as eco domes. These rounded, mud-walled structures exude rustic elegance and feature locally crafted textiles and leatherwork. Guests can enjoy a refreshing pool, a beautiful garden, and delectable meals served at the on-site restaurant, where traditional Moroccan flavors take center stage.
Agafay Desert – A Captivating Desert Experience: For those seeking an otherworldly adventure, the Agafay Desert, located less than an hour from Marrakech, offers a mesmerizing landscape. Increasingly popular for day trips or dinners under the stars, the desert provides an opportunity to experience camel riding, poolside relaxation, and tantalizing cuisine. Stylish accommodations have emerged amidst the dunes, such as the luxurious tented camp called Inara and Caravan Agafay, the African outpost of the boho-chic group Habitas.
La Pause – An Oasis in the Desert: While the Agafay Desert boasts various accommodations, La Pause stands as a classic and beloved retreat. Initially catering to day visitors, La Pause has gradually expanded, adding unique mud houses that showcase traditional climate-controlling construction. Offering an escape from modern distractions, La Pause provides European-style bathrooms without electricity or Wi-Fi, creating an enchanting ambiance for guests. Candlelit dinners under tents and the romantic ritual of lighting tiny fires inside the rooms make for a truly magical experience. In the evening, waiters gracefully carry trays filled with aromatic tagines and bowls of tomato soup to tables adorned with candles, lanterns, and bonfires in the garden. The absence of artificial lighting enhances the ambiance, allowing guests to immerse themselves in an authentic and atmospheric dining experience.
The allure of exploring Morocco beyond Marrakech extends to the country’s diverse landscapes, cultural richness, and sustainable travel practices. Travelers are now seeking a deeper connection with nature, a chance to appreciate the local way of life, and the opportunity to support initiatives that contribute positively to the environment.
As international travel continues to evolve, the desire to venture off the beaten path and explore lesser-known regions of Morocco is steadily increasing. With a wealth of breathtaking locations just a stone’s throw away from Marrakech, visitors can embark on soulful journeys through the majestic Atlas Mountains, unwind in the coastal charms of Essaouira, or immerse themselves in the captivating beauty of the Agafay Desert.
Morocco’s allure lies not only in its well-known cities but also in the hidden gems that lie beyond them. Thanks to dedicated travel designers like Alex Wix and the growing availability of direct flights, visitors can now embark on unforgettable adventures that showcase the country’s soulful luxury and its ability to offer tranquility amidst breathtaking natural surroundings.
Whether it’s savoring traditional flavors in the Atlas Mountains, wandering through the vibrant streets of Essaouira, or stargazing in the vast expanse of the Agafay Desert, Morocco beckons those who seek a unique and authentic travel experience. As travelers increasingly prioritize sustainability and off-the-beaten-path exploration, Morocco stands ready to unveil its soulful luxury in the mountains, by the seaside, and across the desert.
In conclusion, Morocco’s appeal extends far beyond Marrakech, inviting travelers to discover a side of the country that is serene, culturally rich, and intimately connected to nature. With a growing focus on sustainable practices and the desire to explore lesser-known regions, visitors can immerse themselves in the soulful luxury that Morocco has to offer. From the tranquil mountains to the vibrant coastal cities and the captivating desert landscapes, Morocco beckons those who yearn for unique and unforgettable experiences.