This is a loop trail that starts and ends a little north of Agadir at our stable. From the Atlantic coast ride up into the Atlas Mountains to a high point of nearly 2,000m. Splendid views; and trails through deep valleys, passages through gorges that lead to palm groves and following trails only used by the local Berber people. There are a few short sections where you may need to lead your horse.
The mountainsides are covered with terraced almond trees and aromatic thyme, lavender and rosemary shrubs. Apart from their heady scents, these shrubs allow the Berber to produce excellent honey. Some villages cling to the mountainside, others are in the palm groves bordering the wadis, or the bottom of valleys, they are all built of stone with thatch and mud rooves. Some nights are spent in home-stays which provide the opportunity to see how argan oil is harvested, how bread is bakes in a traditional oven; and you’ll have the opportunity to taste ‘amlou’, a gastronomic specialty made of honey, oil argan and crushed almonds.
Day 1: Getting there
The gateway for this ride is Agadir; if you can’t access Agadir don’t worry, we can arrange a pick-up from Marrakech. We can also arrange your flight, or if you prefer to do so yourself, just tell us the details and we can meet you at the airport. The transfer from Agadir airport to the hotel is included and takes about 45 mins. The transfer from Marrakech is about 3 hrs. In the evening of day 1 there’s a detailed briefing about riding in Morocco, the route and the Barb stallions. Supper and night in the hotel.
Day 2: Drive to Iwlite; ride to Tadrine
Drive the short distance to the stables (27 Km; 45 mins) which is near the Berber village of Iwlite north-east of Agadir. The ride begins with a path that climbs into the adjacent mountains that overlook the ocean. This area is cultivated and small, walled fields define the trail. By mid-day we will have ridden through several tiny villages (called ‘douars’ in Berber) and reached the beginning of the Valley of Paradise, where we make our picnic stop. Swimming is possible in the river (so pop your bathers into your saddlebag this morning). In the afternoon, ride along the valley floor to the palm-fringed oasis known as Tadrine.
O/night family stay.
Day 3: ride from Tadrine to Tanite
Continue right through the centre of the oasis and cross a small wadi. This area is market garden territory: the palms keep the worst of the sun’s rays at bay and the soil is fertile. There is plenty of water to irrigate the small gardens and cultivated olive trees, palm trees and oleanders and all around. Arrive at the village of Aguerd for a swimming break and picnic lunch. In the afternoon we follow the left bank to douar Tanite, the last village in the palm grove.
O/night: camp at the edge of the village, beneath the palms.
Day 4: ride from Tanite to Timoulay
In the morning, we take the Pilgrims’ Way to the marabout of Sidi Brahim (a ‘marabout’ is a shrine and ‘sidi’ means saint). The trail climbs steadily and the vegetation becomes scarce, leaving only a few argan trees and thuja, which are coniferous trees in the cedar family; you may see chess boards and other wooden handicraft for sale in Agadir and Marrakech, which are made from Thuja (they smell amazing!). Crossing a pass at 1,200m and descend to a village before climbing again to a final pass at 1,300m: vast panoramas from the top looking back over the Ankelout Valley. One final descent brings us to the oasis of Tizgui where we stop for a picnic. In the afternoon our way continues through almond plantations and small fields to the village of Timoulay.
O/night: family stay
Day 5: ride from Timoulay to Tagounite
The route zig-zags through several Berber villages, including the slightly larger Izouaghnz and Tassila, before climbing to the Tizi Izouarhne pass at 1,300m. Swing into a westerly direction following the ridge with a magnificent panorama back towards the Atlantic. Ride through a cedar forest and emerge at the Issi pass (1,150m). Descent to the valley of the River Aourga and so through a village that is literally hung at the foot of the mountain; a short climb to the village of Tagounite and the overnight stop.
O/night: family stay
Day 6: Tagounite – Abouda
Head due west towards the Atlantic, passing the Berber villages of Adess and Adar, to arrive on the beach of Aghroud. Firm sand allows a brisker canter and we stop on the beach for a picnic and swim. In the afternoon we take advantage of the broad beaches for some longer canters.
O/night camp just off the beach
Day 7: Return to Iwlite and drive to Agadir
On the last day we leave the coast and follow an old fisherman’s track that connects isolated villages. Arrive back at the stable and say goodbye to the horses. Lunch then transfer by car to Agadir.
O/night at the hotel.
Day 8: Transfer to Agadir airport and return flight.
Horse ride Morocco: Paradise Valley ride.
Cross-cultural awareness: the majority of the population is Muslim, though the Berber occupy the relaxed-cum-moderate end of the spectrum. The Tuareg nomads are also moderate in their outlook, but care should be taken to dress conservatively. Morocco is generally “dry” but duty free byo is fine.
Guide: the English speaking professional guide who is the first point of contact on the ride is Momo. His first language is Berber, second Arabic, third French and fourth English; I was chatting to him in English and asked him where he learnt it and he replied “On the street” – it’s very good and he clearly has an ear for languages and an eye for horses. The rest of his team speak some English, but rather more French.
The price includes:
all meals, hotels as described, camping in two-man tent. Horse and tack, the trek guide and full back-up.
Airport transfers from Marrakech (can be arranged), international flights, travel insurance, tips.
Meals: will be prepared by our cook who will introduce the subtleties of Moroccan cuisine.
Baggage is transported by jeep which you will be able to access each evening.
Formalities: No visa is required to travel to Morocco you only require a passport valid six months beyond the date of departure. No special vaccinations are required.
Rider ability: you must be at ease at all paces and accustomed to riding outside a ménage/school.
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.