Morocco Beach Ride: The Barbary Coast – Southbound
A fully guided horse riding holiday in Morocco, Africa – 8 days and 7 nights (6 days riding)
Morocco has a long tradition of horsemanship that stretches back centuries: Julius Caesar is said to have chosen a Barb stallion to ride to do battle with the Gauls. A “Barb” is a horse from the Barbary Coast and is renowned for its courage, sure-footedness and verve. The Barb is one of the oldest breeds in the world and their genes are found in many modern thoroughbreds and race horses. Only the Arab has had a greater influence on modern breeds, and the Arab and Barb share many qualities and characteristics.
This ride takes place on a section of the Barbary Coast that is difficult to access by vehicle, with pristine stretches of Atlantic-washed sand and secluded little coves. It passes through tiny fishing hamlets and explores hidden-away seaside villages. Morocco lies so close to Europe, yet is so completely different.
Day 1: Fly London to Marrakech
The gateway for this ride is Marrakech. We can arrange your flight, or if you prefer to do so yourself, just tell us the details and we’ll meet you at the airport. We include the transfer from Marrakech airport to the hotel on the coast, not too far from Essaouira (3 hr drive). Detailed briefing about riding in Morocco, the route and the horses. Supper and night in the hotel.
Day 2: Diabat to Sidi Kaouky (5 hours riding)
The first task this morning is to match horse to rider. There are just over 25 horses in the stable so there’s ample choice to select the horse that suits your temperament and level of ability. The ride sets off from the stable which has access directly onto the beach near the estuary of the Oued (river) Ksob passing just beneath the Dar Soltane, a ruined Sultan’s palace dating from the early 1800’s.
The dunes on the left get higher and higher as we head south but we favour the firmer sand closer to the Atlantic. The trail leads along the sand and up into light eucalyptus and mimosa forest as we approach the lighthouse at Cap Sim.
The crew will go ahead and set up camp, so by the time we ride up the tents are up and a glass of mint tea awaits. Supper is served in camp.
Riding pace: quite brisk, all paces. In fact, really quite quick in places!
Day 3: Sidi Kaouky to Iftane (6 hours)
After breakfast, we return to the Atlantic shore; you and your horse will be in harmony by now and the pace is fun and fast! It is a pleasure to feel what these horses can do! They are willing and well-mannered and capable of a respectable turn of pace. As we ride south the beaches becomes more and more pristine: there is no access to these beaches by road and the villages are so small that they aren’t marked on maps. Many of the hamlets here are subsistence fishing communities. We will pass a couple of tiny fish restaurants that serve what’s just been caught: net to pan to plate! and we’ll stop for lunch at one of them. In the afternoon we continue into the hinterland, passing through small, traditional Berber villages. This evening we make camp on a low bluff with great views. Swimming for those who wish!
Riding pace: similar to yesterday, all paces incl a beach gallop.
Day 4: Iftane to Tafedna (6 hours)
A small well-concealed path leads away from the bluff to the bank of the river Aghbalou which we follow westwards, gaining height as we go. We join a single-track tarmac road for a short while and by lunchtime we have reached the spring which is the river’s source and a peaceful spot to picnic. This is deep within Argan Forest National Park [Argan is the tree that is the source of the Argan oil used in skin treatments, creams and haute cuisine]. In the afternoon we continue through the open forest and the pace picks up a little. Towards the end of the day we return to the beach for a short canter. Camp is on a high bluff overlooking a beautiful beach, concealed amongst camel brushwood; swimming for those who wish!
Riding pace: similar to yesterday, but the terrain demands respect.
Day 5: Tafedna to Timzguida Ouftes (5 hours)
Much of today’s trail is along cliff tops with the pounding Atlantic surf away on the right-hand side. Lunch is picnic style and by mid-afternoon we will reach the beach that is particularly noted for surfing and kite-surfing. The horses are accustomed to the kites and it’s wonderful to watch these athletic sportsmen bounce across the waves. The beach is ideal for a canter and this is an exhilarating way to reach Timzguida where we make camp. Swimming for those who wish!
Riding pace: walk, trot and canter. Steady and careful with 3 beach canters.
Day 6: Timzguida Ouftes to Imessouane (6 hours riding)
The beaches on this stretch lie below steep cliffs so the trail leads a little inland, through Argan forest and away from the beach. The going underfoot is stony and steep in places, which means the pace is steady, but the scenery is lovely. Lunch is picnic style and by mid-afternoon we will reach camp. Swimming for those who wish!
Riding pace: steadier than yesterday, because the terrain is stony and can be hard on hooves.
Day 7: Imessouane to Tamri (3 1/2 hours riding)
We continue south to reach the small, rural community of Tamri, just before Cap Rhir; it’s a tricky place to reach by road but popular with the hard-core surfers and another stunning beach. Drive back to Essaouira and check-in to the hotel .
The horses will be boxed home (2 hrs 45 mins) so we say goodbye to them in Tamri.
Riding pace: mainly walking and gathered trot.
Day 8: Departure
Transfer to Marrakech airport (3 hours driving) and departure. Or if you wish to extend your stay, please just ask!
The price include: Return transfers from Marrakech to the stable; all meals, lodging in Berber collective tent or individual tent (2-man tents are available). Horse and tack, the trek guide and full back-up. Please note that we can also arrange flights to suit you. Venture Co is ATOL bonded and deals directly with all major airlines.
Meals: will be prepared by our cook who will introduce the subtleties of the Moroccan cuisine.
There is a camp shower. Baggage is transported by jeep and will be waiting in camp each evening.
Formalities: No visa is required to travel to Morocco you only require a passport valid six months beyond the date of entry. No special vaccinations are required but it’s wise to have cover for typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis.
Rider ability: you must be at ease at all paces and accustomed to riding outside a ménage/school. If you wish you can travel to the ranch early for a few days’ practice.
The horses: The horses are Arab, Arab cross; Barb and Barb cross. They are between 15 hh and 17 hh with 15.2 being the average size. They are well-mannered and willing. Grooms will attend to tack-up and look after the horses, so you can be fully involved or stand back and have it all done for you! It’s up to you.
The tack: each horse is equipped with a trekking-saddle and saddle-bags which enable you to carry your picnic and the personal items. Don’t forget your water-bottle.