Outside the window of the luxury van, there are shepherds tending their sheep, friendly locals waving to us, and camels—that’s what makes me feel like I am really here in Morocco, finally. I’ve always associated the Arab country with camels and desert but I’m quickly learning it’s so much more than that as we—myself and 17 other travelers—are driven about 60 minutes from Marrakech to the Ourika Valley.
The final road to the hotel is very narrow and windy and makes you feel like you’re on some secret road that no one knows about. Kasbah Bab Ourika, perfectly situated in the Atlas Mountains, looks spectacular. You can see rivers, fields and groves of olives, oranges, and lemons, even snowy mountain peaks. I can already tell it’s going to be the perfect escape.
We are greeted with Equinox’s famous eucalyptus towels which feel so refreshing after the long travel day. I get settled into my room—it has a rustic, earthy feel—complete with two beautiful terraces overlooking the valley.
Lunch is ready on the outside terrace. The starter salad is lovely, and as my main, I had the fish tagine. I learned that tagine is a traditional Moroccan dish with a protein, potatoes, and tons of spices. It’s so flavorful and delicious. Over the next five days, I’ll be consuming this daily.
I set out to explore the grounds while others choose to experience a Hammam. This place just urges a sense of presence from you. I’ve already decided exactly where I will sit to drink tea before yoga tomorrow morning. I stumble upon Kasbah Bab’s organic gardens from which all the food, including our lunch, is sourced.
It’s time for me to lead the group through a Vinyasa yoga class to get all the kinks from traveling out. Afterwards, we toast to the start of the trip with a sunset cocktail hour followed by a family-style welcome dinner.
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Photos: Will Mayer; Location: Kasbah Bab Ourika (top photo)