Morocco cycling holiday
Description of Morocco cycling holiday
This nine day Morocco cycling holiday, around the countrys southern region, is a carefully crafted cycling circuit that takes you from Marrakech to mountains, kasbahs to coast. It certainly will have you pushing your muscles, although this is categorised as a moderate trip, with some options for more challenging rides in the foothills of Mount Toubkal if you so wish. But you will need a good level of fitness for this one.
Cycling between 50-80 km per day, with a few minibus transits along the way, you will pass through some of the Atlas Mountains most exquisite landscapes, including a climb (and descent) to Tizi n'Test Pass (2100m), Ait Baha Lake and small villages peppered with argan and almond groves. One of the highlights of the Atlas is cycling through the aptly named, palm filled Paradise Valley to Imouzzer, with stunning views down to the ocean along the way.
Our final stop on this cycling holiday is in the exquisite coastal town of Essaouira, dating back to the 15th century. Famous for its dazzling shades of blue, with houses and boats all painted the same shades, you will have earned a good cool down from the Atlantic winds, as well as fine seafood caught that day to fill those hollow legs. It is also a wonderful final stop to do some souk shopping.
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As a cycling holiday, this trip has very limited detrimental impact upon the environment, residents and communities in the regions we visit. Use of the bikes allows us to cover fairly large distances, while offering very little adverse impact, like pollution and threat to wildlife. Cycling also allows for easy access to the local population, shops and restaurants, which facilitates cultural exploration. By hiring our bikes locally, we also give our business to Moroccan suppliers, which is beneficial for the community. Through this activity, we are able to raise local awareness for a kind of tourism which refuses to sacrifice the environment and real connections with people for financial gain.
Campaigning for Change:
In conjunction with Baraka Community Partnerships, we have sponsored the development of a small village called Tijhza for many years with a variety of projects. These include supplying a pipeline system and water tower to the village and a toilet block for the school. Thanks to our volunteer groups, Tijhza now also has electricity and an annual medical clinic, which has had a hugely positive effect on the welfare of the village. More recently, we have achieved our aim of building a Hammam to alleviate some of the hygiene issues in the area and to provide a sustainable source income for many inhabitants. Unfortunately, devastating storms struck in November 2014, leaving much of the village severely damaged. We were able to raise emergency funding to provide supplies and to re-build many of the homes affected. Although we do not visit on this trip, clients are able to donate items through their leader.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
PeopleAccommodation and Meals:
Our local operators generally prefer to select accommodation which is locally owned in order to support smaller businesses and their employees. Having local staff also ensures that most income generated is reinvested into the area and the community. We stay in a mixture of hotels and small privately owned riads throughout the trip. A riad is a large house or palace with an interior courtyard decorated in a traditional Moroccan style. Where meals are supplied, seasonal, fresh food is used wherever possible. Most vegetables come from the region of Sous; meat is locally supplied by butchers and fruits can be found at markets or, in one case, from the gardens of the riad. The main Moroccan dishes most people are familiar with are couscous, meat and vegetable tagines, fish chermoula and bocadillos, which are available from street stalls almost everywhere.
Local Craft and Culture:
By passing through both small villages and large cities, we encounter several opportunities to engage with local culture by meeting residents and seeing them go about their day to day lives. Another cultural highlight is Marrakech, where we can see the medina, the Bahia Palace, the C16th Saadian Tombs and the Koutoubia Mosque. Clients are encouraged to haggle for souvenirs, take a ride in a traditional Caliche, or to visit the world renowned Marjorelle gardens. In the evening, the Djemma el Fna central square comes alive with musicians, snake charmers, travelling acrobats and food stalls. This is the perfect opportunity to interact with local people, purchase locally produced handicrafts and to support small street vendors by trying authentic food.
Passing through Berber villages up in the High Atlas Mountains, hiring local guides, staying in local gites and using markets has a positive impact on the local economy. Many of our clients leave things behind at villages we pass as, due to their remote and mountainous location, there is little access to many of the things we take for granted. On our journey there are also optional opportunities to visit female Argan Oil Co-operatives, which provide women from rural communities with an avenue of income, fair wages and good working conditions, along with educational classes in some cases. These are wonderful initiatives to stop at and purchase souvenirs if clients are interested.
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.