HORSE RIDING IN MOROCCO
The horses are mainly stallions, with the herd made up of Barb and crossbred Barb/Arabians. They are responsive, forward going, fit and know their job – making for excellent trail horses. When riding in Morocco (as with anywhere, but particularly when in a group of stallions!) it is important riders keep a good distance from one another at all times. The riding here is for those who are confident in the saddle and able to control their mount in open landscapes and at a fast pace. It is advisable to be physically fit as sometimes you will need to lead your horse on foot up or down steeper terrain.
You will experience a mix of paces; set to suit whichever terrain you are riding over. You can experience some periods of slower riding as you cover rocky or very soft ground. However, these are interspersed with fast canters and ‘release-you-inner-cowboy’ gallops! Experience freedom as you rush through the desert, with the wind in your hair and sand getting stuck in your teeth as you cannot help but grin. There are many canters and gallops on forward going Arab or Barb Arabians on offer, whichever itinerary you choose.
The horses are ridden in good quality English-style saddles or trail saddles. Most riders are encouraged to help with grooming and tacking-up their steeds, but assistance is always on hand.
MOROCCO’S GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Situated in North Africa, Morocco has both a Mediterranean coastline and a long Atlantic coastline. Riding along this rugged coastline can get pretty windy at times but the endless stretches of beautiful beaches, broken up by small fishing villages, more than make up for it. One of the most famous of these Portuguese coastal trading posts is called Essaouira. Pronounced ‘Essa-weir-a’ it has evolved into a chic seaside town but continues to have a busy port and boat building industry. You can watch the local fisherman in action as they perch on the rocks, take a stroll along the ramparts, get lost in the bustling medina or watch the sun go down on the beautiful large beach.
Morocco is perhaps most famous for being part of the Sahara Desert. The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world and the third-largest desert after Antarctica and the Arctic. Its combined surface area covers 3,600,000 square miles – a size comparable to China or the USA. For those wanting to explore this unique desert, ride through the south-central part of Morocco. Our desert trail begins in Ouarzazate, also known as the ‘door of the desert’. This aptly named town is the last modern civilisation for miles to the south. Horse ride out from here to discover the varying desert landscapes and scenery, ranging from iconic high dunes, open plateaus and the oasis filled Draa Valley. Several films, such as Lawrence of Arabia have been shot here.
For those seeking adventure, a bucket-list horseback trail is high in the Atlas Mountains. Spend your days horse riding through the dramatic peaks, weaving in and out of pine, oak and cedar woodlands, open pastureland, and past clean small lakes.
Morocco becomes lush and green during the Spring months (mid-March to May), before summer sets in, making it the perfect time to head to the High Atlas Mountains. Explore this spectacular area on horseback, navigating high mountain passes interspersed with beautiful green valleys. As summer approaches temperatures can soar to well over 35°C. This is the perfect time to head to Morocco’s Atlantic coastline where the breeze keeps you cool as you gallop down the empty endless beaches.
In the cooler months, the horses are moved and spend their winter deep in the Moroccan desert. The desert trails run from October to April with highs of 20°C during the day, making great riding weather. This is the perfect time to explore everything the desert has to offer. Desert evenings will be chilly so layering essential!
Morocco is a wonderful mix of both Africa and the Middle East in one. Having both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines and a rugged mountainous interior, meant Morocco remained largely independent for centuries. We often feel that its history, climate, and geography appear more closely related to the Mediterranean than to the Southern Africa we know – It is sometimes hard to believe you are on the same continent.
The culture of Morocco is as diverse as its landscapes. Many consider its culture to be a blend of ethnic tradition and religion, reflecting the Berber, African, Arabs, and Jewish influence. During your trails, you will find the Berber influence is the most prominent way of life of the Moroccan people out in the desert and high in the Atlas Mountains. The cuisine differs from one region to another, but the meals cooked for you after a long day in the saddle are mainly those of the Berbers. Trail ride into new scenery as well as a totally new culture.
ACCOMMODATION ON YOUR MOROCCO RIDING HOLIDAY
There is a variety of accommodation options whilst horse riding in Morocco. The Essaouira and Atlas Mountain rides have a mix of hotel stays and a simple mobile camp which will be moved on each day. As you ride the distance between camps, a support vehicle will be there to meet you for a delicious lunch and then sets out ahead to set-up camp for your arrival. The camp consists of shared dome tents and a large mess tent for eating and relaxing. Guests will often be asked to help set out the tents.
For our Desert trail, you will spend each night at a comfortable riad (local inn) or lodge in small communities in the desert. There is a smaller number of rooms at some of the riads, so there is a limit to the number of guaranteed single rooms.
The riding will not be the only highlight of your holiday…The food is also excellent. Typically, meals begin with hot and cold salads and is followed by a tagine which may be served with couscous. Alcohol is not provided and not easily purchased during your trip. Therefore, it is best if you bring your own alcohol from home or from duty-free if you wish.
How safe is Morocco?
From the moment you touchdown in Morocco you will have 24-hour support throughout your trip. You will be greeted upon arrival and from then on will be looked after by the knowledgeable team on the ground. Being part of a group makes these rides great for even solo travellers. The risk to travellers in Morocco is low, and no more dangerous than popular places you might visit in the US or Europe.
What to wear in Morocco?
Morocco’s dress code is relaxed for tourists. However, it is a largely conservative nation and therefore it is considered respectful to the culture to follow suit. We recommend long loose-fitting trousers, jeans and tops that cover the shoulders when not riding. When horse-riding, usual riding attire is absolutely fine, but long sleeves are best for sun protection.
When is the best time for a horse trail in Morocco?
Morocco has different riding locations all year round. It is lush and green during the Spring months (mid-March to May), before summer sets in, making it the perfect time to head to the High Atlas Mountains. As summer approaches head to Morocco’s Atlantic coastline where the breeze keeps you cool. In winter venture deep into the Moroccan desert. The desert trails run from October to April with highs of 20DC during the day, making great riding weather.
Can you add a stay in Marrakesh to your horse-riding holiday in Morocco?
Absolutely, it is extremely easy to add on 2 to 5 nights exploring everything Marrakesh has to offer. Experience the exotic, mysterious and enchanting city. Explore the old medina, weave your way through the bustling souks, and the hectic main square of the Jemaa el Fna – A sensory explosion. Marrakech is also a buzzing modern city, with an increasingly happening culture and nightlife.
Do I need a visa to visit Morocco?
Currently, travellers from Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States can enter Morocco for up to 90 days for the purpose of tourism without a visa (please check ahead of travel)