Sunday, 23 July 2017

Best Day Excursions from Marrakech

The first time you visit Marrakech there is so much to see in the medina and in the close proximity of it that if you're only in town for just a few days we seldom recommend making any longer excursions. But if you come for more than three-four days, or it if you are returning to the Red City, there are so many cool places to see also outside the medina. The beautiful Atlas Mountains for instance, on a clear day you can see them from the rooftops in Marrakech and it's only a short drive to visit the blooming Ourika valley and the amazing Imlil valley.

A lunch in the Atlas Mountains with breathtaking views is just amazing!

Easiest way to get to the gorgeous Ourika valley is to book a private car with a driver for the day and ask them for the scenic roads and that you want to visit the authentic parts with some Berber villages that cling on the side of the hills and perhaps an Argan oil co-operative. There you can get your hands on some real Argan oil (and not the fake you are risking to get when shopping in the medina). In the middle of the valley you will find the Setti Fatma falls, 7 cascading waterfalls that go into the Ourika River. Depending on the day you will also be able to visit local typical Berber markets.

A private car and driver is the best way to go!

If you go a bit further south you get to see even more spectacular valleys in the Imlil valley. Here you can visit the highest peak in Northern Africa, Mount Toubkal (4 167 metres). There are loads of authentic Berber villages here and you can also do a lot of interesting trekking excursions.

Beautiful Imlil Valley

To see some amazing waterfalls and apes you should go to Ouzoud in the Grand Atlas village of Tanaghmeilt where you will find the prettiest waterfalls in Northern Africa. It is about 150 km north-east of Marrakech and on the way you will pass lots of beautiful landscapes with fields of olive trees. At the waterfalls you should stroll along the network of trails leading to the lake below the falls. If you are lucky you get to see some of the Barbary apes that live here.

Why not see some huge waterfalls and apes?!

If you are a film buff and want to do something extraordinary you should take a day trip across the High Atlas Mountains to Ouarzazate and the dramatic stone and mud-built fortresses known as Kasbahs and the fortified villages known as Ksars. You will visit Telouet and Taourirt Kasbahs as well as the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ksar at Ait Ben Haddou. This is where a lot of films have been shot including "Gladiator", "The Mummy", "Alexander", "Babel", "Prince of Persia" etc.

The architecture of the Ksars and Kasbahs are just the coolest!

Another great excursion is to the stunning coastal town of Essaouira, an UNESCO world heritage site. This picturesque place has been the favorite retreat for both hippies and stars for decades. Here you can explore the atmospheric alleyways of the ancient Medina, and the old ramparts that protect from the strong winds. You should also visit the long white sandy beaches and the bustling fishing port with excellent seafood and all the blue wooden fishing boats.

The harbor in Essaouira is filled with fortresses and blue boats.

If you want to see the desert, Sahara is unfortunately too far away to make it just for the day. But there is a stone desert just one hour from Marrakech that you could visit instead. The Agafay desert is not exactly the same as the Sahara with the magnificent sand dunes but it's all the same a very cool desert excursion. You could take a 4x4 car and drive off the beaten tracks as an adventure! After the desert you should go and have lunch or a mint tea by the beautiful Lake Takerkoust.

The stone desert just outside Marrakech has camps where you could stay over night in cool tents. This is the Scarabeo Camp.

If you come to Marrakech in the winter (Jan-Mar) and it has been snowing in the Atlas Mountains you could take a day excursion to go skiing in Oukaimeden, a ski resort about 80 kilometres from Marrakech. The skiing area is at an altitude of around 3 000 metres and there are two ski lifts.

The ski lifts go above the clouds!

You could rent skis and snowboards on location.

There are so many more suggestions on excursions and there are a lot of guiding companies that can help you with your plans and booking. We always use the very professional tour operator Toubkal Guide for our trips and excursions, they are brilliant!

Excursions are even more fun with some best friends!

So to summarise, the best 1-day excursions are:
1) Ourika Valley
2) Imlil Valley and Mount Toubkal
3) Ouzoud and the waterfalls with the apes
4) Ouarzazate and the Ksars and Kasbahs
5) Essouira by the Atlantic coast
6) Agafay, the stone desert
7) Oukaimeden (in winter)

Adventure is always around the corner in the Red City! Keep exploring!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Runmarö - our Swedish island hideaway

Welcome to Runmarö!
After a very busy spring with lots of projects, both in Morocco and Italy, it was time for vacation and to head back to our little house on the island Runmarö in the beautiful Stockholm archipelago. Time for an ocean break in our little island paradise in Sweden and getting back to basics. We are looking forward to almost six weeks of vacation, where our summerhouse will be our main base. There are some Red City PR projects that we can work on remote and we will mix up our island life with some city breaks, friends and family. But most of all we look forward to sunny, relaxing days on this charming island.
Our house is located in an area on the island called Söderby, that used to be a fisherman's village
Söderby on Runmarö, this is where we have our jetty.
Our place consists of three small houses, some terraces and a huge garden with meadows and some forrest. It's total privacy and close to our jetty and the ocean.
We got this place some 14 years ago and really love the relaxed, laid back lifestyle on the island. Living here is total relaxation and we spend our days reading, running (we have a 12 km track), swimming and hang out with friends (ok, maybe doing some work as well, but from a deck chair). We cook and eat almost all meals outside on the terrace and enjoy wine in the sunset on the jetty.
Beautiful ocean views.

We barbeque almost everyday in the outdoor kitchen.
We actually have three kitchens: one in the main house, this summer kitchen and then our outdoor kitchen with a huge BBQ.

Lazy days with coffee and a good book
Outdoor living
Beautiful sunsets by the sea.
Runmarö is a quite big island, approx 5x5 km and it boasts a very livley little community with both all-year-around islanders, as well as those coming just for the summer season. We have a charming bakery, a well stocked grocery store and a restaurant. Fish and meat can be bought directly from the farmers on the island. There is even a theatre performing a few shows every summer and of course a number of local markets and events. 
The best way to get around the island is on one of these mopeds ("flakmoppe")
Runmarö is a very idyllic island close to Stockholm city and with a lively local community.

There are multiple daily ferries connecting Runmarö to the mainland and it takes approx one hour to commute from the island to Stockholm city center.

Lazy and (mostly) sunny days

But most exciting this summer is of course to welcome our new tribe member Cicero, a short haired dachshund, and hang out with him. More about this stylish puppy in a future blog post.

We wish all of you a sunny and relaxing summer!