Winter Trip to Morocco: Essaouira & Ouzoud

Our vacation in Morocco included two day trips from Marrakech: it was hard to choose where to go as there are loads of possible excursions available but, in the end, we ended up picking a breezy visit to the seaside town of Essaouira and a trip to the famous waterfalls in Ouzoud.

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Essaouira is about a three hour drive away from Marrakech. We had booked a tour that picked us up in the morning and dropped us off around noon. On the way we stopped to ogle the ridiculous goats that hang out on trees. We were also taken to see how they make argan oil, which is what Morocco is known for.

Once we arrived to Essaouira, we right away headed for lunch at Restaurant du Coeur, which we had googled beforehand. We didn’t expect too much since we based our decision on online reviews but it turned out to be a wonderful place for lunch. We had fresh fish (literally fresh from the ocean, they picked it up from the harbor while we waited and even showed it to us before cooking it) and some wonderful desserts.

Essaouira boasts a wide, sandy beach, which is great place for walking around but it was way too cold to even think about swimming. After a little food and some beach views, we walked around the harbor that was just bustling with action.

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If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones like me, you might recognize Essaouira as the city of Astapor where Daenerys becomes the leader of Unsullied. Some King’s Landing scenes were also filmed there. In fact, Skala du Port, which offers picturesque and completely Instagram-worthy views over the harbor and the Île de Mogador, was used for the walk of punishment (Shame! Shame!). You have to pay to go up to the walkway and the tower but I would say the views are worth it.

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Essaouira’s large port is filled with noise and bustle, which is hugely hugely atmospheric. You can sometimes see traditional wooden boats being made in addition to the usual comings and goings of the bight blue boats.

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The city’s walled medina was added to Unesco’s World Heritage list in 2001. The narrow streets, souqs, and picturesque houses with gorgeous ornate doors make it a perfect getaway from the hectic Marrakech. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants to smell the fresh seaside air on their trip to Morocco.

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In addition to Essaouira, we wanted to explore Ouzoud and its famous waterfalls. We had heard that there you could see monkeys in the wild (we were horrified to see the monkeys in chains for the entertainment of tourists at Jamaa El Fna). The waterfalls are located near the Grand Atlas village of Tanaghmeilt in the province of Azilal. We were picked up early morning from our riad and had a lovely drive through the country.

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Once we arrived to Ouzoud, our guide led us around the olive groves and through some little buildings where they were making argan oil (this is something that seems to be included in almost every tour and excursion in Morocco). We then walked down the mountainside to the falls and after enjoying a short boat ride there was time for a relaxing lunch overlooking the waterfalls.

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After lunch we hauled our full stomachs back up to see the monkeys who were eager to get their paws on whatever snacks tourists would bring them. I didn’t really appreciate seeing how readily they would go for chips and other unhealthy junk food but I still went all gaga over the baby monkeys that were running around.

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Now this post is embarrassingly late as I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus due to an extremely stressful spring (with work and family stuff). However – if you’re still around – thank you for waiting! And I have tons of posts lined up so I’m gonna try to keep up with a more regular posting schedule now.