Horse riding holiday

Atlantic Coast, Essaouira, Morocco

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Holiday Itinerary

Spend 6 nights / 7 days exploring the stunning landscapes on horseback as you ride across beaches, sand dunes, Argan forests, fishing villages and more on this unique Moroccan horse riding adventure holiday.

Start with 2 nights in a boutique Riad in the center of Medina and just a few minutes’ walk from the beach and spend your days getting to know your horse for the week and exploring the local beaches.

After you and your horse have been acquainted, you’ll start your 3 night / 4 day trek from nearby Diabat where the adventure really starts as you ride across sand dunes, explore local fishing villages and beautiful deserted sandy beaches where you might even come across turtles, ride alongside local shepherds with their herds of goats before ending up at the incredibly beautiful fishing village of Sidi Kaouki to camp out under the stars.

Sidi Kaouki is 17 miles South of Essaouira and was named after a 19th-century marabout, a wandering holy man or teacher, and his shrine by the sea still attracts pilgrims. More recently, it was famously used as the location for the second Sex and the City film. It’s a village steeped in history, full of local life and boasts near perfect kitesurf and surf conditions meaning its warm year round with a refreshing breeze.

At the end of your 4 day trek, head back to the Riad for your final night in Essaouira which has its own welcoming and bohemian atmosphere and is a great place to sit in beach-front cafes sipping mint tea and listening to Gnawa music reflecting on your horseriding adventure.

Who is it suitable for?
- Suitable for all levels from complete beginners to advanced riders looking for a horse riding adventure in a magical location
- Note: beginners will start with an introductory tutorial to ensure a full understanding of how to move through the paces of walk, trot and canter as well as how to steer and halt your horse before setting off to explore the coast line and before starting the trek
- Minimum age 8 (under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult)
- Horse riding is great fun for everyone but it’s best to bear in mind that it can be physically demanding sometimes especially during the 4 day trek so a reasonable level of fitness is required
- Your instructors speak English and French

I'm travelling solo - can I join?
- These horse riding holidays make great singles holidays and singles will have their own private room in the Riad for a small supplement, click on the 'Costing and Extras' tab to check the single supplement prices
- Note: Shared rooms with other solo travellers are not offered
- Please note that solo travellers can join an existing group only
- It is not possible for solo travellers to confirm their place on the course without there being any other guests confirmed on the holiday

When can I start?
- Holidays run year round taking advantage of the great weather and arrivals are accepted on any day of the year
- Horse riding holidays are for 6 nights / 7 days
- If you wish to stay for extra nights at the Riad in Essaouira, please email to check availability for your preferred duration and we will do our best to accommodate you
- If dates appear ‘on request’, please email us hello@golearnto.com and we’ll check availability for your preferred day of arrival as quickly as possible

Typical itinerary
The itinerary is for guidance only and is subject to change depending on the group’s needs and wishes but is typically as follows:

Day 1: Arrival and airport pick up
- You’ll be collected from Essaouira airport and transferred to your accommodation in Essaouira (around 10-15 minute drive)
- You can check into your room any time after 3pm
- The afternoon and evening is free to settle into your luxurious Moroccan Riad and soak up the creative atmosphere

Day 2: Getting to know your horse and riding
- Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the Riad before heading to the stables to meet the horses
- Beginners will start with a 1-2 hour introductory tutorial to ensure a full understanding of how to move through the paces of walk, trot and canter as well as how to steer and halt your horse before setting off to explore the coast line
- More experienced riders will ride out with a guide for a 2 hour beach discovery in Essaouira
- The afternoon and evening today is free for you to relax by the beach or explore the souks and medinas of vibrant Essaouira

Day 3: Trekking, sand dunes, Berber villages, beaches and Argan oil
- After breakfast you will check out of the Riad and will head to Diabat where your trek will start (note: your luggage will be taken for you but please pack lightly)
- Today you’ll start your horseback adventure
- Follow the river through bushes and climb hills and dunes, you will see shepherds with their herds of goats or dromedaries and donkeys will pass by and if you are lucky you will see also a turtle in the sand
- Later in the day, you’ll pass the Berber village of Ghazoua before arriving in the evening at the coastal village of Sidi Hmad o Mhand
- You’ll camp in a Moroccan tent this evening in the village and will visit an Argan-oil production which produces the famous argan oil using traditional methods
- Argan oil is claimed to be the ‘ultimate cosmetic product’ and this is your chance to meet the people producing the oil and to see how it’s done
- After the visit, enjoy dinner together with the group

Day 4: Argan forests, fishing villages and deserted beaches
- After breakfast, saddle up for your second day of trekking
- Today you’ll ride through the biggest Argan forests in the region heading towards Sidi Kaouki, a relaxed fishing village 17 miles South of Essaouira
- The village was named after a 19th-century marabout, a wandering holy man or teacher, and his shrine by the sea still attracts pilgrims. More recently, it was famously used as the location for the second Sex and the City film.  It’s a village steeped in history, full of local life and boasts near perfect kitesurf and surf conditions meaning its warm year round with a refreshing breeze
- Tonight you’ll sleep at a lonesome beach and will enjoy sundown at this special place, well deserved after a full day on horseback

Day 5: Beaches and refreshing swims
- After breakfast, you might want to enjoy a dip in the sea before saddling up a day of beach trekking
- Today long beaches and good gallops await you
- Pass by fisherman at work and after a morning exploring the beautiful beaches, stop for lunch at a grotto on the beach where you can take a refreshing bath in the sea
- In the afternoon, pass by the lighthouse at Cap Sim and ride through bushes and climb sand dunes before ending up back near Sidi Kaouki for another night camping out with dinner

Day 6: Riding back to Essaouira
- After breakfast, get ready for your ride back to Essaouira (around 17-20km)
- Your route will follow the stunning beaches so there’ll be plenty of time to gallop through the sea and canter along the sand before arriving back to Diabat in the afternoon
- After saying a fond farewell to your horse, you’ll be transferred back to the boutique Riad in Essaouira for your last night
- The evening is free for you to relax, take a long bath to relax those horse riding muscles and perhaps head out to the Medina for dinner
 
Day 7: Departure day
- After breakfast you will check out of the Riad Zelaka in time to be taken to Essaouira airport for your return flight

About the equestrian centre and your riding tutor
- The stables are situated just 3km outside of Essaouira in a small village called Diabat
- Your riding teacher Jawad established the riding centre many years ago and has over 25 years riding experience, he’s a great horseman and guide with a passion for animals and the countryside
- Jawad was born in Essaouira and has been riding all his life and has a deep knowledge of the local area
- You may also be guided by Hicham who also has a wealth of experience with horses and guiding
- Due to the stunning countryside and coastal trails, trekking is a big focus here and you can ride to your heart’s content
- All treks cater for mixed abilities to ensure everybody get the most out of the experience
- The centre has 12 Arab-Berber horses and ponies varying in age from 2 to 20 years
- The horses are well trained, schooled and suitable for all levels of riders from beginners to advanced

What will I learn?
- If you have arrived as a beginner the aim is that you will leave with a sincere love and understanding of horses
- As a beginner or novice you will begin to develop your skills on your first day by starting with saddling up and getting on, steering, stopping and getting off again before starting your trek
- You will continue by learning about balance and developing control over the horse working mainly on your balance to help to create a harmony between yourself and the horse
- The teaching methods are gentle and sympathetic and will point you to an understanding of natural horsemanship
- Experienced riders will of course have the freedom of the endless beaches, sand dunes, forests and rivers and will learn to appreciate the intelligence and stamina of the local horses

What should I bring?
- Sun protection
- Helmet if you wish to wear one as riding hats are not provided
- Flash light/head lamp
- Comfortable trousers for riding in, ideally with no seams (preferably not jeans)
- Sleeping bag
- Towel
- Wet wipes
- Swim wear
- Flip flops
- Warm clothes for the evenings

Where will I stay?
You will have a mix of boutique Riad accommodation and camping as follows:
- Night 1, 2 and 6 will be spent in a Riad in the heart of the old town of Medina and near the beach
- Nights 3, 4 and 5 will be camping out under the stars
- Night 3 is in the village of Sidi Hmad o Mhand and nights 4 and 5 are near Sidi Kaouki

About the Riad
- The Riad accommodation is called the Riad Zelaka and is located within the old town of Medina and close to the shops and restaurants
- This welcoming and cosy riad features 6 rooms as well as a sunny terrace where BBQ are often held
- If the Riad is fully booked, you'll stay in the Maison du Sud; this is beautiful 18th Century Riad situated just 300 metres from the sea right in the heart of the Medina
- Positioned in the heart of the pedestrianised old city the Riad has been renovated in Moorish style offering 8 rooms on a mezzanine floor
- There are 4 twin/double suites and 4 quadruple suites
- The rooms all open onto a light-filled interior patio with traditional Moroccan tiling
- All rooms are en-suite with lounge area, furnished in traditional Moroccan style
- It offers a beautiful sunny roof terrace with views of the sea and the roof of the Mellah (walled Jewish quarter)
- Moroccan meals served on request in the traditional restaurant and there are plenty of nearby cafes and restaurants to eat at if you prefer to go out and prices are typically very reasonable
- Friendly and hospitable staff adds to the charm and the character of the Riad
- On day 1, your room will be ready for you to check in to any time after 3pm and check out is by 11am on day 7
- WiFi is available and works best in the louge and lobby area

About the Camping
- You’ll spend 3 nights camping, the first night at a camp in the village Sidi Hmad o Mhand and the next two nights at different camps in and around the village of Sidi Kaouki which will both be beach based camps
- You’ll share a tent and bathroom facilities although available, are basic camping style
- Note: The tents are separate male/female tents
- As the villages are near the sea, your tents are kept cool with the sea breeze so you don’t have to worry too much about the heat at night
- NOTE: in the unlikely event of the weather being inclement, you will not stay in a tent, you will stay at a local guesthouse instead

Are meals included?
- Breakfast is included each day
- Days 2,3 and 7 are taken at the Riad
- Days 4,5 and 6 are taken out camping on the trek
- A picnic lunch is included on the days when you are trekking which are days 3,4, 5 and 6
- A welcome dinner is provided at the Riad on your first night
- Dinner is included at the campsite during your trek on nights 3,4 and 5
- Other meals are at your own expense and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in which to eat in Essaouira which are typically reasonably priced
- If you have dietary requirements, they must be communicated at the time of booking and vegetarians are welcome

What can I do in my free time?
- Life is easy in Essaouira and it offers you a great opportunity to explore and experience both the culture and outdoor activities
- A vibrant and relaxed town Essaouira is a rich with history and culture a recognised UNESCO world heritage site
- The mix of whitewashed fishing ports, bright North African technicolor and picture-postcard ramparts has been the inspiration for artists the world over particularly for musicians and photographers helping to give the town its unique creative atmosphere especially at the time of international music festivals
- You can sit in the beach-front cafes and sipping drinks listening to Gnawa, a deep soulful sound derived from sub-Saharan Africa
- You can visit the maze of Souks, the relaxing hammans or enjoy a mint tea on your terrace as the sun sets