Horseriding in the Mountains, Sea, and Desert of Morocco

I wanted to take some time to write about an intense week of riding I experienced last year in Morocco. I booked my trip with the Ranch “Les 2 Gazelles”, a beautiful property by the coastline in the South of Morocco, near Agadir. Their stables offer week-long trails and adventures on horseback by the beach, mountains and desert.

Overview of the ranch Les 2 Gazelles in the south of Morocco, showing stables entrance and outside arena
~ Les 2 Gazelles Ranch ~
They also excel at endurance. In fact, most of their horses are Arabians and Barb-Arabians who will surprise you and seriously make you question your overall health with their ability to hold the longest canters without breaking a sweat. I specifically remember a 20min-long canter that got my thighs and calves burning – I had the biggest cramp on one of my feet while my horse was just CHILLING.

That week of riding was filled with moments of awe, challenges, and amazement. While we started our ride working our way inland towards the scenic Atlas Mountains, our paths were paved with rocks and grounds of different species of cactuses.

The vegetation became scarcer as we climbed up to a plateau with fantastic views of the Little-Atlas mountain range.

Horse and rider reach plateau in the Little Atlas mountains in the south of Morocco

That same day, we slowly headed back down near the coastline as we aimed to reach the city of Mirlef. Soon, we were cantering on miles-long beaches like we didn’t have a care in the world.

I remember distinctly one of the evenings being welcomed in a breathtaking (albeit quite modest) hotel. The sunset views over the big red cliffs hanging over the Atlantic ocean and the peace that came as the waves were breaking in front of our eyes after a challenging 9 hours in the saddle was one of the most rewarding feelings I had ever known.

As we continued our journey down South of Morocco, we soon started venturing inlands again. This time, we were headed to the Sahara desert. I cannot put into words the feeling of excitement, mixed with vulnerability and incredulity that takes over when you find yourself miles and miles away from any form of civilization. Every dune, and every elevated surface further emphasized this feeling of helplessness when the next sight continued to be sand as far as the eye could see. A few times, I actually wondered if our guide could possibly remember where we were going (spoiler: He did!)

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These beautiful and remarkable moments were not without some complications. As with most forms of travel, there are sometimes some unexpected circumstances. The weather can turn inclement (hard rain, wind, sand storms, cold nights, etc) while you can still be hours away from your destination. With no one and nothing in sight, sometimes you just have to take it!

I think it is worth mentioning that, while we ventured to very remote places during the day, by the time we reached our evening milestone, the accommodation was always very decent considering the circumstances (no sleeping in tents). We sometimes would share bedrooms, depending on availability, and we stayed either in motels or in guest houses. I hold dear memories of the people and hospitality we received. The locals would always welcome us with delicious snacks and beverages, and always made sure we had everything we needed. They pride themselves in their ability to give a proper welcome to guests and we were all the more grateful following a long, tiring (but exciting!) day on horseback.

Let me give you a couple of tips to consider if you wish to join this ride (or a similar one for that matter)

 

Useful Tips:

  • Bring sunscreen and warm clothes! I went in the month of April, thinking it would be warm in Morocco. The days can get pretty warm and you might get some pretty bad sunburn if you are not careful, but equally the weather can get pretty cold (especially during those nights out in the desert!). I would highly recommend bringing multiple layers, as well as proper sunscreen to avoid those sunburns during the day!

  • Bring some Tylenol/Paracetamol and disinfectant – I personally always travel with a bare necessities First Aid Kit. I had the very bad luck of falling butt first on a cactus (yes, this happened…not my proudest moment), and was happy I had brought some tweezers and disinfectant to remove the spines. (TMI?)

  • Brings snacks! While there is plenty of food to eat during the main meals, I always found myself hungry during the rides. Keep in mind some of the days you will be in the saddle for over 8 or 9 hours- it’s always handy to keep a few cereal or protein bars to snack on to give you the energy to keep going!

  • Get in shape! This ride does require a certain level of riding experience and physical condition. If your legs hurt after a couple hours in the saddle, try and imagine that amplified by ten. We are talking 6 to 9 hours in the saddle daily for six days straight. Personally, I think I could have prepared myself better, but then again… you can always try to stretch (or suffer through it) like I did!!

Horserider stretching during lunch time before getting back in the saddle after a few hours of trail ride
Stretching at lunch time – very much needed !

* For updated price list and details please check directly on Les 2 Gazelles Website.

Cheers,

Mathilde @worldonhorseback

P1905, Morocco

 

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