Susan Worner Tours

Morocco – Gardens of Marrakech, Taroudant and The Atlas Mountains

30 March – 07 April 2020

Click HERE to view our other Morocco Garden Tour, running 21 – 29 March 2020

Morocco – Gardens of Marrakech, Taroudant and The Atlas Mountains

Morocco is a country of contrasts: the buzz of the medina and exotic souks in Marrakech, hidden gardens, long views to the mountains and warm, hospitable people happy to share their history over a glass of mint tea.

The properties visited offer a balance between intimate courtyard gardens with vibrant plants, colourful tiles and splashing water, and country gardens known as jnane (gardens of paradise) with an emphasis on orchards and decorative plantings of herbs. We also discover a number of newly created gardens have emerged recently.

Our first hotel, the welcoming riad-style Le Beldi Country Club is situated in the countryside near Marrakech, a rural estate with extensive gardens and views towards the mountains. We move on to Taroudant, south of the Atlas Mountains, where we stay in a riad guesthouse with a fascinating garden designed by Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières, well-known French garden architects and designers.

Our group is small with about fifteen participants. We use a minibus as most travel is very local except on the transfer morning through the Atlas.

 

Itinerary

DAY ONE – MONDAY 30 MARCHD

Departure from Gatwick direct to Marrakech. Transfer to Le Beldi set in the countryside outside the town, with its fields of roses, orchards of pomegranates, figs and orange trees, and a potager with aromatic herbs. We meet in the garden for a welcome aperitif and short talk on the programme before dinner together (each evening).

DAY TWO – TUESDAY 31 MARCHBLD

Morning visit is to Le Jardin Secret in the medina recently designed by Tom Stuart Smith. It comprises two courtyard gardens, the first well-planted with specimens from across the world and the second, larger space inspired by a traditional Persian garden design with four square beds and water rills. The overall effect is of a tranquil haven filled with peace and beauty. We continue in the medina to Riad Attajmil for lunch on the roof terrace. Afternoon visit to a beautiful private garden in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains recently created amongst ancient olive trees. Return to Le Beldi for dinner.

DAY THREE – WEDNESDAY 01 APRILBLD

A day in the Atlas Mountains, where the snow-capped Mount Toubkal (4167 metres) towers above the Berber village of Imlil. Our guide, Hassan, takes us on foot (or Berber 4×4) up the valley, with blue iris and cherry trees in blossom, to his outlying village for mint tea at the family home. We continue along the valley to the Kasbah du Toubkal, notable for its dramatic scenery views of the mountains from the rooftop terraced garden. Following lunch at the Kasbah we walk down through woods of walnut trees to Imlil village. We continue through remote mountain scenery to a lake to discover a garden before enjoying dinner there together. Return to the hotel.

DAY FOUR – THURSDAY 02 APRILBLD

Early morning visit to the striking Jardin Majorelle, created in the 1930s and later restored by Yves St Laurent and Pierre Bergé. Our guide, Hafid, meets us for a fascinating introduction to the extensive medina with its farmers’ markets and local craftsmen. Hafid takes us down bustling little streets at lunchtime until we reach an enchanting riad garden with rambling bougainvillea, jasmine, glazed pots, decorative tiles and water fountains. We lunch in the shade of the palms. In the afternoon, we discover the sumptuous gardens of Hotel La Mamounia, traditional and immaculately kept within the medina walls. The hotel’s admirable kitchen garden produces food for the restaurant. Moroccan style afternoon tea is served in the garden. Dinner together in the hotel restaurant.

DAY FIVE – FRIDAY 03 APRILBD

We depart south across the Atlas Mountains and through the argan and thuja tree-growing region arriving at Dar al Hossoun on the outskirts of medieval Taroudant, our base for three nights. On a guided tour led by the proprietor we discover the grounds, with their rich collection of plants. An aperitif is served on the roof – with notable views to the Atlas Mountains – before we enjoy dinner with local specialities. The riad and garden were created by French landscape architects Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières, with the original intention to use them as a nursery for treasures (seeds and cuttings) brought back from their plant hunting expeditions across the world. Nowadays, Dar al Hossoun has become a welcoming haven for guests in this special area of Morocco.

DAY SIX – SATURDAY 04 APRILBLD

Morning visit to a private courtyard garden in the medina of Taroudant. We continue to the outskirts of the city and visit a spectacularly beautiful garden; enclosed within high walls, it has been designed by an art collector. A brief visit to the bustling, colourful souks before returning to the riad for lunch and time to relax. Late afternoon we walk to neighbouring private gardens created by Ossart and Maurières for drought conditions. Dinner together at the riad.

DAY SEVEN – SUNDAY 05 APRILBLD

Visit to the colourful weekly market outside Taroudant before we leave for the southern foothills of the Atlas Mountains and lunch near the traditional village of Had Imoulas. Argan trees grow on the mountainsides, and we may see goats feeding high up in the trees. Travelling onwards through spectacular scenery we discover the valley adjacent to the river, rich in olive trees and crops.

DAY EIGHT – MONDAY 06 APRILBLD

The late Chilean artist Claudio Bravo built a palace in the countryside near Taroudant and we visit both the well-furnished interiors and the delightful courtyard gardens before taking tea in the menara-style Pavilion facing the lake. We lunch in the courtyard garden.
On returning to the riad it is possible to join a cookery course (optional) to learn the secrets of making tagine, the classic dish of Morocco. Dinner together.

DAY NINE – TUESDAY 07 APRILB

We depart in the morning across the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech. Afternoon visit to a peaceful garden around a private museum created by Abderrazzak Benchâabane, where a notable feature is an extensive collection of succulents. It is also the season to enjoy orange blossom from the trees lining a water rill. The owner is a perfume ‘nose’ and creates his own brand of scent. A workshop has been established next to the museum for local children to visit regularly to give them a chance to draw and paint. After mint tea we leave for the airport for the return flights to London Gatwick.




Map of Morocco

Tour Costs

£3,260 per person sharing
Single occupation of double room supplement £825

Included:

All flights and transport in a modern comfortable minibus. Accommodation with en-suite bathroom, delicious meals as indicated, all garden visits, and guide and hotel tips.

Not included:

Alcoholic and soft drinks (except the first evening’s aperitif), items of a personal nature, comprehensive travel insurance with full cover to be taken out on payment of the deposit.
Tip to the driver


Hotels

Dar Al Hossoun, Taroudant
www.dar-al-hossoun.com

Hotel Les Deux Tours, Palmeraie, Marrakech
www.les-deux-tours.com

Notes:

The climate in March/April will be warm. Extra layers may be needed in the mountains. Lightweight clothing is recommended, with a waterproof jacket in case of a shower and good shoes/trainers for the mountain walk.
Smart casual for the evening.

Meals included are shown as B (breakfast), L (lunch) and D (dinner). Often guests meet for drinks before dinner (optional).

Wifi is available in the hotel and riad.

Activity Level:

Good walking ability for Marrakech gardens and the medina. The walk in the mountains requires a reasonable level of fitness, although mules are provided for those who prefer to ride.