On the road: a heart-pumping sidecar experience in Morocco
Has the thrill been taken out of modern driving? Our plush, hyper-advanced SUVs get trapped in grid-lock; we take ten-minute journeys to buy bread and milk, and we steer along straight roads which last forever. It’s all necessary, of course; but it’s hardly high octane. To shake things up, we sent our intrepid production team on a trip down memory lane; fastening their seat-belts for a vintage sidecar ride around the bustling streets and exotic landscapes of Marrakech, where imported Chinese sidecars first became popular during the 1950s as a cheaper and more appropriate vehicle for the tight city streets. This remains one of our most popular, and thrilling, Moroccan experiences. Check out our video below, and read on – or head here – if you want to experience this pedal-to-metal adventure for yourself, leaving the package tourists behind in your dust.
Get revved and souk it up
Typically, travellers arrive in Marrakech after having traversed the mountainous terrain of Ait Ben Haddou. On arrival in the city, they spend three – or more, or fewer – nights at the enchanting Villa des Orangers, depending on their schedule and tastes. The sidecar experience itself is the perfect way to get to grips with the labyrinthine streets of this characterful city. Your guide doesn’t – however – have to follow a predetermined route. If you see, or smell, something interesting, they’ll steer you in the right direction.
Low to the ground; engine purring like a cat. Our Moroccan sidecar experience starts off in the souks of Marrakech, where you’ll swerve and bob between the busy throngs of stalls and shoppers: smelling the aromas of ancient tanneries and spice markets, the air laced with felfla (cayenne), karfa (cinnamon), quekoum (turmeric) and the all-important zafrane (saffron). Take a pit-stop at the Moorish opulence of Riad Farnatchi. Or shop for beautiful beni ourain rugs; their sheep-skin faces laced with dazzling geometries of black.
Your vehicle of choice will be the Chang Jiang 750; one of the first mass-produced vehicles in China, which themselves were copies of an earlier Russian design. To put it another way, they’re bold, brash, and stylish as hell.
Picking up speed – as the traffic melts away – you’ll race first through the Old Town and on toward powerful La Palmeraie; a lush oasis of palm trees located on the verdant outskirts of the ancient city.
Powering on to La Palmeraie
Covering an area of 54 square km, La Palmeraie represents the finish line for your Moroccan sidecar experience. In legend, this immense body of palms grew from the date seeds cast off centuries ago by passing warriors – who tossed the pips into holes made from their ground-struck speers. More prosaically, it was – in truth – created during the Almoravid period (from the 11th C onwards) using underground, sloping channels called khettara. Today it is an oasis of 100,000 trees (as well as olive and lemon trees), in addition to the resorts which are dotted amongst the shaded grounds.
Beyond the sidecar, the rest of Morocco is at your fingertips: from a hot air balloon ride over its salt-thick, sun-kissed rocks, valleys and ravines, to tagine cooking classes and an ascent into the wild Atlas Mountains; rich with wild flowers and home to a number of secluded hotels (including the entrancing Kasbah Tamadot, which is one of the best hotels in the world). Check out our Moroccan itineraries, which include rare quad bike expeditions across the dunes to Berber-led camel rides into the rugged, ancient foothills.
What should I know before I go?
All of our trips are bespoke. If you want to enjoy the Marrakech sidecar experience then we can build your itinerary entirely around it; whether you buzz around the souks or power on to the city’s palm-thronged oasis.
You can dial up and dial down the adventure for each of our trips. And we can work around the varying needs of your family or group, too. So if there’s one adrenaline-junkie among you, we can fix them up with the sidecar while others enjoy the slower side of life.
We love to pair destinations together. To experience the historic spread of Islamic culture across Africa and Europe, you can link Morocco with Portugal or Spain. Find out more here.
REVVED UP? TALK TO OUR TRAVEL EXPERTS TODAY
Morocco is a vast, beautiful and diverse country. Whether you want to zoom through the markets of Marrakech or indulge your senses in the High Atlas Mountains, we can fix you up with the country’s best hotels and most memorable experiences.