Pearl of Essaouira gîte-to-gîte: Morocco beach ride
6 days; 5 night; 3 1/2 days riding.
This is a loop trail combining wide Moroccan beaches with remote Berber villages; meet the local people and explore the hidden-away Argan Forests near the Atlantic sea-boarder. Gallop over firm sandy beaches with the Atlantic surf pounding onto the sand.
Morocco beach ride at a glance
A fully guided horse riding holiday in Morocco, Africa
Morocco has a long tradition of horsemanship that stretches back centuries: Julius Caesar is said to have chosen a Barb stallion 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. The Barb stallions we ride are like driving a V8 sports car: the feeling of controlled power is awe-inspiring!
This ride takes place on a section of the Barbary Coast that is often difficult to access by vehicle. Leaving the beautiful town of Essaouira behind we ride across the gorgeous beaches, up into the hills and through ther forests that surround it. The trail passes through tiny fishing hamlets and explores hidden-away seaside villages. Morocco lies so close to Europe, yet is so completely different.
Morocco beach ride: itinerary
Day 1. Arrive Marrakech
We’ll meet you upon arrival at Marrakech airport and drive you down to the coast (3 hrs). Arrive and check-in to the riad and your guide will brief you about the trail that begins tomorrow. You can store baggage here that you won’t want during the ride; it is secure and will await your return on day 5. Dinner at the ranch, hotel accommodation.
Day 2. The Morocco beach ride begins
This trail is a giant loop that follows the coast south, then swings inland to come back along the cliffs. Sometimes we ride clockwise and sometimes anticlockwise, depending on the prevailing weather on the day. Every day we ride for about 5 hours, 3 in the morning (with a break) and 2 in the afternoon with the intention of reaching camp by about 4 pm. The Pearl of Essaouira immerses you in the many different landscapes of the region: sand dunes, deserted beaches, cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and riding through tiny fishing villages. There will be a pause to water and feed the horses and enjoy a picnic lunch at mid-day. All paces are used during the ride and every night we use an open fire to cook on and keep as warm once the sun has gone.
Much of today’s trail is along cliff tops with the pounding Atlantic surf nearby. Lunch is picnic style and by mid-afternoon we will reach a deserted beach and make camp on a raised area just above the beach.
Saddle time: 6 hours
Distance: 20 km
Day 3: The beaches
After breakfast, we return to the Atlantic shore; you and your horse will be in harmony by now and the pace is quicker than yesterday’s. It is a pleasure to feel what these horses can do! They are willing and well-mannered and capable of a respectable turn of speed. As we ride along the beaches becomes more and more pristine: there is no access to most of 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. When we reach Sidi Kaouky we’ll stop for lunch in one such place. 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.
Saddle time: 6 hours
Distance: 18 km
Day 4: Argan land
The trail leads along the sand and up into light eucalyptus and mimosa forest as we approach the lighthouse at Cap Sim. A small well-concealed path leads away from the bluff to the bank of a river which we follow inland, gaining height as we go. We join a single-track tarmac road for a short while and by lunchtime we will have reached the spring which is the river’s source and a peaceful spot to picnic. This is deep within the Argan Forest National Park (Argan is the tree that produces Argan oil). In the afternoon we continue through open forest and the pace picks up a little. Towards the end of the day we return to the beach and a short canter to reach camp which is concealed within shallow sand-dunes in amongst camel brushwood.
Saddle time: 6 hours
Distance: 22 km
Day 5 – return to Essaouira
A three hour ride brings us to 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 river bank leads to the ranch and the trail’s end. Lunch is served at the ranch and we drive in to Essaouira for a free afternoon to shop, explore the Medina (old town) and perhaps take a relaxing massage in a Hammam (Turkish bath house). Dinner at the ranch, overnight stay at the riad in Essaouira.
Saddle time: 3 hours
Distance: 11 km
Overnight: Hotel / Riad
Day 6 – departure
Transfer by air-conditioned car either to Essaouira airport (15 minutes) or Marrakech airport (roughly 3 hours).
Morocco beach ride: Details
Luggage: Your luggage will be transported in a 4X4 which will be present for the lunch picnic and at night at camp. Please bring a flexible bag (hold all) rather than rigid suitcase, and do not pack unnecessary items.
Accommodation: Your accommodation will be in a traditional Berber tent that can accommodate six. There are also two-man tents available. The camp is equipped with a shower. However, depending on the availability of fresh water, showering may not be possible every day.
Food: Your meals are prepared by our chef who will show you the many delights of Moroccan cuisine. The menu will take into account the dietary requirements and allergies of the participants.
Formalities: No visa is required to enter to Morocco. You must be in possession of a passport valid for 6 months from the date of entry. No vaccinations are required.
Rider ability: you need to be comfortable riding at a walk, trot and canter and have experience riding outdoors. If you have no multi-day riding experience we recommend you come out to the ranch a few days before the trek begins because a bit of practice which will give you a chance to gain confidence in yourself and your horse.
Equipment: Each horse is equipped with a trail riding saddle and saddle bags that allow you to carry your lunch if necessary and any personal bits and pieces during the day. Some riders like to bring a seat-saver. Don’t forget your water bottle.
Travel Insurance: it is mandatory to have personal travel insurance.
Minimum 2 riders
Included in the price
• Round trip airport transfers (shared with other riders)
• All meals
• Twin-share accommodation in Berber tents or, on request, 2-man tents
• Hotel accommodation at the start and end of your trek
• Horses, tack and saddlebags
• Trek guide
• Camp chef
• International flights
• Personal travel insurance
• Sleeping bag (available to hire, on request)
• Optional Hamman and massage.