Best time to go: October Half Term, February Half Term, Easter, May Half Term
Best for: Adventure & Off-the-beaten track, Culture & Beach, Family Holidays
This private family holiday in Morocco is packed with experiences your children will adore. Morocco is the closest destination that will allow your children to immerse themselves in a different culture. You’ll combine time in bustling Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains, Agafay Desert and finally to kick-back on the laid-back beaches of Essaouira.
Begin in bustling Marrakech. This ancient city acted as a trading post between the deepest, darkest depths of the Sahara and the cosmopolitan ports on the Mediterranean, which supplied goods to Europe. Think Marrakech, and think of snake-charmers, colourful souks infused with the aroma of spices and the distant call-to-prayer from the many mosques in the city. We suggest staying just outside of the walled old town (Medina) where you find the souks. Your children will have expansive gardens to run around it and a large pool to enjoy. You can all then dive into the medina before retreating at night.
Above all, the best way to experience the souks with the family is to have a private guide. We’ll not bore the children with walks around palaces or museums but showcase the living, breathing side of the city, which can only make them smile. We won’t plan anything on the day you arrive, as your children’s call-to-swim will be more desirable than finding out about the call-to-prayer emanating from the nearby mosque.
The second day will start with a leisurely breakfast and more pool time before you head into the city. Firstly, begin at the Djemaa el Fna square. You’ll return here later, and now it’s time to delve into the narrow alleyways that make up the souqs. You’ll pass through a host of colourful stalls selling almost anything imaginable. Here, leatherworkers, slipper sellers, apothecaries, wool merchants, weavers and metalworkers all ply their trade.
We’ll stop for a mint tea on a rooftop to get amazing views over the city. You’ll return to the Djemaa el Fna at dusk. Food stalls start emitting fabulous aromas, and the odd monkey arrives to find scraps. Storytellers appear, and henna painters get to work. Snake charmers even appear. The call-to-prayer begins, and now the children will ask what it all means. Luckily your guide is still on hand, handpicked to bring the magic of Marrakech to life for your children.
It’s now time to head into the mountains. Drive-up in a comfortable 4×4 with a large vehicle and driver, and it generally only takes about an hour. Spend two nights in the mountains, and it’s a lot more relaxed than down in Marrakech. You’ll stay at Bab Ourika, which has some superb two-bedroom rooms and, most importantly, a glorious pool. In the Atlas Mountains, you find the Berber people. You won’t see them dressed in western clothes and live a far more traditional way of life.
Depending on the ages of your children, we can tailor an experience around how active your family wants to be. The highlight is visiting a local Berber home for a mint tea and seeing how they live. Should your children be old enough, we can arrange horse-riding or mountain biking. However you fill your days, the natural beauty of the stunning Atlas landscapes is always spellbinding.
Next, head to the Agafay Desert, located just outside of Marrakech. Here you find a barren, rocky landscape featuring rolling hills and rocky outcrops. It isn’t as sandy as the Sahara (some 9 hours drive away), but it gives you a desert experience under canvas. That night, the family will hop on camels for an evening stroll at sunset. Return to the camp for traditional Moroccan music and feast on traditional dishes under the starry Moroccan sky.
The following day, you wake early for a hot-air balloon ride over the Agafay desert. You’ll get a dramatic view over the Atlas Mountains and small settlements below. Afterwards, drive to Essaouira (two hours). This laid-back, arty town is located on the Atlantic Ocean and makes for a fitting, relaxing conclusion to your family holiday in Morocco. You’ll stay at the beachside Sofitel, which comes with an array of smile-inducing facilities. We suggest three nights here, but you can extend should you do wish. Finally, it’s time to head home, and you return to Marrakech Airport for your flight home.