Weekend in Marrakech: A Fun Getaway with Friends

After a great weekend in Cap Ferret, should we take the risk and try it again? Sure, we have to! 🥳

Planning this next weekend escape, we looked at Italy, Croatia, Norway, Malta, Corsica, and Greece, but we needed more to work out due to scheduling or ticket prices. We finally chose Marrakesh for a short and intense trip, arriving on Friday at 8:30 am and leaving on Sunday at 3:50 pm. It’s just the kind of experience we love 😂

El Yazid Mosque, Marrakesh
El Yazid Mosque, Marrakesh

➜ How to plan a weekend with friends in Marrakesh? Where to stay, when to go? You’ll find all the answers here: “Weekend in Marrakech: Practical Tips & Must-Visit Spots
➜ A complete itinerary to discover Marrakesh in one day is available here: “Exploring Marrakech in a day: A discovery itinerary

We gather at Brussels Airport at 4:30 a.m. for our departure. That is painful! Luckily, 18 of us have the same face 🥱

After a 4-hour flight, we arrive in Marrakesh. There is a queue at customs. Some agents seem more suspicious than others, but we make it through. Car rental signs are waiting at the exit; we quickly inspect the vehicles and sign the paperwork. Paying for parking and filling the gas tanks without a slight change in dirhams is a challenge we didn’t expect, though 😂

Time is running out, and we are getting hungry. We skip taking a photo of the Menara Garden and head to the medina for breakfast.

Traveling with four cars in a tight convoy is almost mission impossible, especially without local SIM cards or an unlimited plan to call each other. Three out of four cars finally arrive at the parking, which is pretty decent considering 😂

As soon as we get out of the car, we negotiate the price for parking. Unfortunately, one vehicle is still missing, but the temperature is increasing, so we move on.

We enter the medina through the Bab Agnaou gate and stop at the terrace of Café Zeitoun Kasbah for breakfast. The staff is very attentive, the food is generous and delicious, and the view of the Kasbah mosque is perfect. It is a great start to our day 🤩

El Yazid Mosque
El Yazid Mosque (Copyright @ Stéphane Janssens)

➜ Practically, always remember to provide clear instructions to other group members while traveling. There are three Zeitoun cafes in Marrakesh and two in the medina. Unfortunately, the four latecomers mistakenly went to the wrong cafe, resulting in some good-natured laughter 😂

After enjoying a delicious breakfast, we consider visiting the nearby Saadian tombs. Unfortunately, the site’s access is limited (meaning you will see little), the line is moving slowly, and the entrance fee is the same as other attractions we may visit later. We decide to pass.

El Yazid Mosque
El Yazid Mosque (Copyright © Bini Toffefee)

After a few minutes to orient ourselves, we find our way to the El Badi Palace towards Rue Tougma and Place Mellah. The streets are bustling with vendors selling spices, clothing, and carpets; some even offer complete makeovers 😅

Complete makeover in Rue Tougma
Copyright @ Thibaut Colson

Although Place des Ferblantiers may appear quiet at first glance, the artisans are already hard at work in their workshops, illuminated by numerous lights and great palm leaf shades. Sadly, such large items won’t fit in the suitcases 😭

Place des Ferblantiers
Échoppe de luminaires sur la Place des Ferblantiers (Copyright @ Thibaut Colson)

No sight of the El Badi Palace, which should not be far?! Information taken, the entrance to the palace is in confidential mode, hidden behind a black screen, at the end of a long alley. Barely on site, a guard urgently welcomes us to discourage any taking of photos on the sly. Ok, ok: the ticket first, then the photo 😂

Although the palace may have lost some of its shine due to looting, it is still an impressive sight. One must possess a great dose of imagination to appreciate its splendor during its prime 😅

Ruins of El Badi Palace
Ruins of El Badi Palace (Copyright @ Jason Brand)

Let’s head to Jemaa el-Fna Square, known for its snake charmers and monkey trainers during the day. Amidst the fresh juice stalls, we come across henna tattoo artists who try to trick us into their services. The experience is overwhelming, but we navigate the crowds and even bargain for counterfeit football shirts. Afterward, we continue our journey towards the souks, where some browse through every stall while others make their way through more efficiently 😂

The lunch break is scheduled at the L’Mida restaurant. At first glance, the place looks like little. But interior decorating gives off a chill and trendy atmosphere once the first level has been reached. One more step to get to the outdoor terrace. And there, a view first. Then a patio that we can only appreciate with its colorful accents, its large parasols, and its oversized lampshades.

Although a chilled glass of rosé would not have been a bad thing at this stage, we settle for the signature L’Mida mocktails, which are a pleasant and surprising discovery. The dishes are flavorful and a great mix of culinary innovation and tradition. Even though there are some shaded areas, the heat is still overwhelming, and we decide it is time to continue our circuit.

We arrive at Place des Spices and walk through the souks to reach the Secret Garden. The exterior of the garden could look more impressive, but we take a chance for this last visit and go inside. Walking through the lush gardens, we feel transported to another place. The combination of the bejmats and plantations creates a unique and zen atmosphere. We enjoy the beautiful view of the Islamic garden on the rooftop terrace for a few minutes, but our journey is already ending, and it is time to move on, despite our desire to enjoy some fresh mint tea.

The last kilometers in the red city to pick up the cars never end. Barely if the Koutoubia deserves a photo stop 😅

We are only 50 minutes away from the Petit Hôtel du Flouka, which we have booked for ourselves until the next day. The road is peaceful, with some music and the Atlas Mountains in the distance, leading to Lake Lalla Takerskoust.

View of the lake from the Petit Hôtel du Flouka
View of the lake from the Petit Hôtel du Flouka (Copyright © Stéphane Janssens)

Behind a beautiful wooden door, the Flouka awaits us.

As you enter the area, some rooms offer a beautiful view of the swimming pool and the lake below. The other rooms are located in pavilions surrounded by lush vegetation connected by stone paths. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate, with a charming holiday village feel.

We efficiently assign the rooms, and everyone settles into their quarters before changing into their swimsuits for a long-due aperitif by the pool 🍹

The restaurant has a large terrace overlooking the lake, but the bar area is the main attraction at this hour.

As the team handles the initial orders, we enjoy the swimming pool amidst a lively atmosphere. Basking in the sun on a deckchair or dipping our feet in the water, we soak in the change of scenery and distance ourselves from the kilometers traveled exploring the red city. We listen to music without worrying about bothering anyone, relishing the exclusive use of the hotel 🥳

It’s almost time for dinner. Some people take a quick shower and have a final drink. Two big tables are set up on the terrace for everyone to share a couscous. The atmosphere is peaceful, with moonlight and soft light under the porch. People chat quietly, and some play a game of pétanque while others dance on the improvised dance floor, which has a sound system rented by the hotel manager. This is an excellent service with 5-star quality 🤩

Petit Hôtel du Flouka
Under the Flouka porch, our dance floor for the evening (Copyright © Jason Brand)

The playlist occasionally experiences gaps due to unstable wifi, but that doesn’t stop the partygoers from dancing and swaying until the early morning. The bravest even take a dip before getting some well-deserved rest. It’s quite the party!

On Saturday morning, we enjoy breakfast on the terrace under a parasol. The pace is slow and relaxing, with a view of the lake and mountains in the distance. Moving to the pool for a swim and an aperitif (already?) feels natural. We start packing our suitcases between toasts before savoring tajines filled with meat and veggies for lunch. Despite a stormy sky, we leave the Flouka with stars in our eyes.

The lake’s surroundings quickly give way to the hills of the Agafay desert. We arrive at the Selina Nomad Camp Agafay under a more threatening sky than ever. We cross our fingers for not having rain for the quad ride that awaits us.

When we first arrive at the camp, we are blown away by the stunning decor of the main tent. The tent boasts a bar and restaurant area and opens to a magnificent swimming pool that overlooks the desert hills and the Atlas Mountains. We feel a sense of vastness and relaxation. However, this experience is quickly disrupted by the team’s welcome. The check-in process is lengthy and complicated, and there are some issues with quad activity reservations and tent arrangements. Fortunately, the well-equipped tents, pleasant surroundings, and breathtaking views make up for it. We focus on having plenty of exciting activities to look forward to, such as an hour of quad biking in the desert, an happy hour by the pool, and a delicious traditional meal under the tent. Overall, we’re in for a fantastic time!

But where are the quads? The reception only says a little, even though we booked the activity a month ago through Selina’s online booking system. After some insistence, they tell us that the quads would arrive soon. Twenty minutes later, still no sign of them. The situation is making us nervous, and the sky is getting cloudy. Eventually, we give up on the quad idea to have a relaxing aperitif by the pool instead. But the receptionist quickly tells us that the quads are nearby, just a five-minute car ride away. Ok, let’s drive to the quads …

The meeting place is just a five-minute drive away, as previously stated. But we are still waiting for the quads! The on-site manager gives us shady explanations, hoping we agree to stay more. After a few minutes, two quads appear on the horizon. Unfortunately, we need six more. The manager becomes agitated while on the phone trying to locate or rent them from another company. Our patience is fading; we should have just stayed by the pool. Suddenly, other vehicles appear. We can finally start. Or not … One of the quads leaks and needs a quick repair. Despite the concerns, we agree to proceed to avoid wasting any more time.

Agafay desert
Looking for the quads (Copyright @ Stéphane Janssens)

We finally begin our adventure in a single file, with strict rules against overtaking and acceleration. Once we hit the track, we try to have some fun but quickly realize that any attempt to do anything would result in reprimands from the manager. Despite the frustration, we follow the guide, only to encounter a breakdown with one of the quads a few meters later. When the manager imposes us to wait for reinforcements without stopping the clock, which had already been running for 20 minutes, we couldn’t take more. We request to interrupt the activity, but the man is aggressive and unhelpful. After some negotiation, we leave the quads behind and retrieve our cars.

Upon returning to camp, the receptionist seemed surprised by our experience, as it had never happened before. Unfortunately, this negative experience greatly impacted our overall customer satisfaction 🙄

Fortunately, happy hour is still ongoing. A drink around the pool will make things better! We are almost alone on the camp (the Selina group has just taken over management), and still, the bar team is overwhelmed 🙄 We hang on to the view, magnificent under the storm passing nearby.

Selina Nomad Camp Agafay
Selina Nomad Camp Agafay under a stormy sky (Copyright @ Stéphane Janssens)

The chef emerges from the kitchen to take dinner orders. Despite being disorganized, everyone can make their choices. We enjoy our aperitifs under light rainfall. It’s time for a quick shower before dinner. The shared bathroom facilities are clean but lack proper shower curtains, so we make do by wearing swimsuits and dealing with water everywhere.

We dress in our fanciest outfits on our final evening and gather on the terrace, feeling beautiful and looking forward to a perfect evening 🤩

Selina Nomad Camp Agafay
Selina Nomad Camp Agafay (Copyright @ Stéphane Janssens)

Two large tables are ready under the tent. We take place on the ground, a cushion under the buttocks. In dress, the experience is not the easiest, but we manage … We begin with starters to share and can’t wait for the main meal to arrive! But when it does, we are torn between disappointment and incomprehension. Most plates come without accompaniment. For some, it works. But some chicken thighs look very dry. An extra semolina will fix that. If only we had some! How is this possible with no other clients? 😅 Once again, we focus on the rest: the excellent company, the magnificent setting, and the joy of being there, quite simply. When we finish our meal, the chef jumps out of the kitchen with a big smile and portions of semolina for the whole table. Too bad the meal is over 😂

The evening ends under the stars. The night under a tent will be good.

Sunday breakfast is early, eating on the terrace.

Selina Nomad Camp Agafay
Selina Nomad Camp Agafay (Copyright © Bini Toffefee)
Selina Nomad Camp Agafay

We only have a few hours left, so let’s go to Domaine de Tameslohte. It’s an excellent place for a Day Pass, including swimming in the large pool and lunch on the terrace, surrounded by lush vegetation.

Domaine de Tameslohte

While some enjoy a good massage, others have a drink in the pool. Lunch is served in the shade. The meal is delicious, and the service is impeccable.

Domaine de Tameslohte
Domaine de Tameslohte (Copyright © Stéphane Janssens)

Last dive before packing up … Do we have to go home? 😭

This second weekend together was great, even better than the first. We explored the medina, although we had to hurry a bit due to the heat. Despite feeling overwhelmed at times, we were impressed with what we saw. After the busy markets, we found the serene banks of Lake Lalla Takerskoust and the unique landscape of the Agafay desert to be even more exotic. Everyone we encountered was friendly and attentive. Overall, we had a fantastic time and are already looking forward to our next adventure! 🤪

➜ How to plan a weekend with friends in Marrakesh? Where to stay, when to go? You’ll find all the answers here: “Weekend in Marrakech: Practical Tips & Must-Visit Spots
➜ A complete itinerary to discover Marrakesh in one day is available here: “Exploring Marrakech in a day: A discovery itinerary

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