When you're ready to leave the hustle and bustle of the medina in Marrakech, taking a day trip to Ourika Valley is a great way to see the beauty of Morocco. You can probably book a tour from your riad or hotel (that's what we did), or go to the medina and haggle the price down there. We paid 25 euros each, but we spoke to another guy on our tour who paid 35 euro booking it at the medina. You don't have to book them far in advance, the day before is just fine and that way you can make sure to go when the weather is favorable!
We were told a driver would pick us up at 08:30AM, but he showed up around 08:45AM. He took us to Jemaa el-Fnaa in the medina to meet up with the tour group. The tour buses are more like 15-passenger vans–the van we went in accommodated 8 plus the driver. We sat around for about 35-45 minutes while they shuffled people around–it seemed like they tried to keep same language speaking people together as much as possible. It made it easier for the local guides we met later to give tours of their area since they only had to say their spiel once or twice instead of 4 or 5 times.
On our way to Ourika, we made a few stops for photos. There were also small shops that tried to encourage us to buy a souvenir or two. But with airline luggage restrictions getting tighter and tighter, I have to wonder who is able to fit a large mosque replica or tajine pot in their bag?
We made two other stops on the way as well. At the first place we learned about how argan oil is made and used. We were shown some samples and then brought to the store where there were prices labeled but told "don't worry, we can give you a discount."
The second stop was at a traditional Berber house. It was a pretty sizeable house with two large bedrooms, one for the parents, and one for many kids. They do ask for a donation here, so bring some change to place in their "family box."
TIP: Bring snacks and water. It was about midday when we made it to the bottom of the valley, and we started our hike to the top of a waterfall. The hike up was fairly easy. We were wearing sneakers, and there were a few parts where we wished we had worn our hiking boots to scramble up some rocks, but the local guides help you out and offer their hand during the slippery or steep areas.
After hiking up to see the various waterfalls and making it up the mountain to look down into the valley, we made it back to our tour van around 2:30PM. Our driver took us to a restaurant just down the road from where we had started the hike. There are loads of restaurants all along the riverbeds. The one we were at had a large rock across the way and a family of Berber apes were hanging out.
Day trip tips and info:
If you book in the medina, you may be able to haggle a lower price than what is posted.
Pack your own lunch. The food at the restaurant was delicious, but pre-priced at 120 dirham (approx $12). If you bring your own you can save a lot.
Bring coins and small bills. Even if you don't buy any souvenirs, the Berber house, the local waterfall guide, the ladies who clean the restrooms – they all ask for a tip.
Wear shoes with traction. The rocks and mud can be slippery when hiking.
Take a day trip! Ourika Valley is beautiful and the visit was one of our favorite days in Morocco.
Comment below if you've ever visited Ourika Valley, or if you're planning to go! Let us know if you have any questions or need more info!