Molly and I were delighted to accept an invitation for a Moroccan adventure, complete with a selection of activities, and a bucket full of ever lasting memories. At first, I was ever so slightly hesitant at the idea of taking my child to Middle East North Africa, which shares its region with Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, places associated with recent civil unrest. Having always been intrigued by Morocco’s cultural diversity and beautiful landscape, I quickly decided that taking Molly to a place known for it’s natural born hospitality would be an exceptional treat for both of us.
Before our departure, we were given instructions on how to download and log into the very helpful app called Vamoos, which provided all of the details of our trip, including our Itinerary, weather forecast, travel documents, and information about the area.
After our 3.5 hour flight to Essaouira, we were greeted at the airport by our taxi driver who drove the 20 minute journey to our destination which was addressed as ‘the middle of Sidi Kauki’. A little amused, we soon found out that our accommodation really was ‘in the middle of Sidi Kauki’, a little cluster of buildings compromising of accomodation, surf shops and cafes, plonked right next to the beach. As we drove along the dusty road we passed camels, donkeys, horses, chicken, and sheep, I was suddenly very excited about what our trip had in store.
We had been invited to stay at Rebali Riads, a collection of villas offering the space and privacy of a holiday villa, with the services of a boutique hotel. The Riads are managed by Fatima and Mohamed, who greeted us upon arrival and gave us a tour of the well kept gardens, tennis court, and spa. As our gate opened my mouth dropped. We were blown away by the oasis of calm, and the contemporary yet traditional style of our villa. We walked passed our private heated pool and were shown through the living area, the kitchen, the double height dining area, the 3 double bedrooms (one with ensuite and two with balconies), and our very own roof terrace. Mohammed asked us what time we would like dinner to be served, and where we would want it, so to satisfy Molly’s inner mermaid we chose to eat outside next to the swimming pool.
Molly had time for a quick dip before dinner, and I sat with my legs in the warm water whilst listening to the distant sound of donkeys and the chirping of the crickets. We were on holiday, it was time to switch off and relax, and for us to spend some quality time together without the constant rush of modern life.
After our candle lit 3 course dinner, consisting of tomato salad, chicken tagine, and chocolate mousse, the night porter, Habib, came to light us a fire in our living room and we cuddled up on the sofa to read a story. We had been in Morocco for all of 5 hours and had already fallen in love with the place.
Sunrise and Camel Trekking on the beach
Molly awoke for her very first sunrise (that she was aware of) so we crept up the steps to our roof terrace, and snuggled up in our matching dressing gowns whilst watching the sky fill with colours of dawn. This was a very special moment for me, holding my little girl in my arms and watching her different expressions whilst she imagined how the universe works.
After breakfast by the pool with our newly acquired pet tortoise, we were then beckoned to the gardens to find a camel waiting for us to take us for a picnic on the beach. The camel walked us for an hour to the expanse of the next beach, which happened to be completely secluded for what seemed like miles. We ran along the sand, we chased waves, we made sandcastles and had a lovely picnic on our little colourful rugs. I think my cheeks are still aching from the permanent smile I had on my face.
Once back in our home, we had yet another delicious traditional meal in our dining room whilst Habib lit us a fire. The guilt I feel for being a mother with a full time job, was slowly being chipped away in teeny pieces, for being able to share such special experiences together made it seem worth it.
Berber Lunch and Essaouria
Another morning started with our poolside breakfast selection of bread, cereal, pancakes, and fresh fruit. Once we had checked on our pet tortoise, we took a walk along the beach and through the small gathering of surf shops.
A donkey awaited our return, which was Molly’s mode of transport to the next village, where we were to join a traditional Berber family for lunch. A herd of goats followed us for part of the way, we were also joined by a couple of dogs, and we passed a number of tortoise en route too, which was quite an experience in itself. Once we had arrived at the house, we were introduced to Hussein and his family, who sat us down in a living area and presented a wonderful chicken tajine. Berbers do not use cutlery, so we sat on cushions on the floor, eating with our fingers and conversing in expression. The language barrier wasn’t a problem as we were shown their self-sufficient way of life. They showed us their cows (and how they were milked), how they extract argon oil, and most admirably, how hospitable they are.
Once back at our Riad we were taken by taxi to the nearby city of Essaouria, which is said to be the favourite hang out of Jimmy Hendrix, also being the set location of Game of Thrones (amongst other films). We roamed around the souks and admired the multi coloured delights that a Moroccan market has to offer, before finding a nice little restaurant for our last supper, and returning back to Sidi Kauki.
Rebali Riads in Sidi Kouki is the perfect destination for all ages. It is a place where you can seek as much adventure, culture, or calm as you wish. You have the benefit of rural, authentic luxury, just a stones throw from the beach, and a 20 minute taxi ride to the hustle and bustle of the city.
Whether it’s lighting the candles in the lanterns that decorate the pool in the evening, providing the matching dressing gowns, or scattering flowers to decorate the bathrooms and bedrooms (Molly now truly believes that she is a real life princess and expects me to scatter rose petals on her bed every single night), all of the little touches have been considered to make the whole experience extra special.
Of course, the hospitality and kindness of the staff at Rebali Riads made the trip special, but what really made this trip unforgettable, were all of the little moments that we shared together. Seeing Molly’s face as she watched the rising sun, as she held a tortoise, rode a camel, chased the waves on the beach, played with Berber children, watched a cow being milked, or being followed by a herd of goats whilst riding on a donkey… these are experiences that I will never be able to replicate in such a unique way, nor put a price on. These little moments are moments that I (and Molly) will remember for life, and that is all thanks FleeWinter for organising our stay at Rebali Riads.
Now THAT… was a proper adventure.
What to know/Things to do:
Flights to Essaouria start from £34.99 each way
Star gazing: Being in a rural location means that the skies are clear, sit on the roof terrace with the star gazing map and wait to see some shooting stars to finish your day.
Camel treks: Various options, including an over night trek and a stay in a Berber tent, or a beach trek to a nearby waterfall formed from volcanic lava. Prices start from £7 per hour.
Berber Lunch: Experience Berber hospitality in the least commercial way possible for £15.
Wildlife: Spend time spotting the local wildlife, from Tortoise, chameleons,
Cookery Course: There are a selection of courses available, from the In-House one offered at Rebali or the more formal class offered in the nearby Cookery school, at £50.
Making Argan oil: You can take a trip to see how a traditional Moroccan Farm produces Argon Oil, for £10 pp.
Quad Biking: Explore the dunes from £25pp per hour
There is also a golf course nearby.