January 20, 2017

A Day in Essaouira // Morocco


Essaouira is a cute costal town sits about 2 1/2 hours drive west of Marrakesch. It's a darling little adventure to get out of the hectic city of Marrakesch. If you are a Game of Thrones nerd like me, you may also recognize it as Astapor (home of the unsullied). I fell in love with Essaouira the moment we met. It's sleepy calmness is set by the crashing waves of the Atlantic on to the coastline and the medina is full of adventure and shops to explore. I also found the people of Essaouira to be overwhelmingly kind. It's a city I wish I could have spent more time just living a bit of day to day in.


Many tour companies in Morocco offer day trips from Marrakech, private car hires are widely available, or you can also choose to take the local bus (about $10US). We booked a tour through Viator which included a stop at a women’s argan oil cooperative and a quick photo op with the goats that graze in the argan trees. The stops were a nice way to break things up and learn a bit about Moroccan agriculture, but I did feel a bit wary that they were both a bit of a tourist trap situations. Although the goats in the region are actually known to climb trees and eat the argan berries (that are then collected and processed into oil when they...um...pass) and it's a fascinating symbiotic relationship, these goats were pretty clearly staged for tourist. They were set up on the side of the road and the two men called our tour group down and insisted we pay money for photos.  





We arrived in Essaouira to the sun shining and a lovely clean beach. There were a number of upscale looking hotels right on the coast that seemed like a great option for a beach getaway if that is what you're looking for. We were there in November, so the water was too cold to swim, but it was sill a beautiful place to relax by the waves.



As you pass the beach and cross the ramparts into the city, you will find it's home to the winding old fashioned alleys Morocco is known for, but these are much more calm than Marrakech.  Shops and small restaurants line the alleys, so it's a perfect city to wander without much aim and take it all in. Prices in Essaouira seemed a bit lower and I found the shop keepers here to be much more warm and less pushy, so we did most of our gift shopping in town.





We spent just about 5 hours wandering before it was time to meet our tour bus.  The few hours we spent here were some of my favorite in Africa.  There was something about this little coastal city that captivated me and next time I'm in Morocco, this will definitely be a town that I will be getting to know a bit more.