The Palm Grove of Marrakesh, adventure and legends of the desert
The Palm Grove reveals the other side of Marrakesh, the desert side. Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, this place takes you back in time. A ride on a camel or in a horse-drawn carriage through this area dominated by palm trees is an ideal sightseeing plan for the whole family. Here you can take a break, enjoy some leisure time in the outdoors and learn more about the origins, traditions, and history of the Moroccan capital.
Covering more than 6,000 hectares, the Palm Grove of Marrakesh is one of the largest in the world. It even covered much more land in the past. This mythical corner of the city has been converted into a luxury residential area. Majestic hotels and holiday villas have taken away space from the wooded area. The magnificence of the buildings contrasts with the sobriety of the landscape. The vegetation emerges in an arid landscape that speaks volumes about the harsh living conditions of the local people.
History and legends of the Palm Grove of Marrakesh
The Palm Grove is a key part of the origins, subsistence, and prosperity of Marrakesh. Reality and legend combine in portrayals of the history of this unique landscape. According to very old accounts, it was the founder of the city, Youssef Ben Tachfine, who caused the creation of the palm grove by accident. It’s said that he decided to camp with his army on the vast plains, protected by mountains. And that the soldiers spilled the seeds of the dates they were eating on the ground, which came from other regions.
This act eventually gave rise to thousands and thousands of palm trees. And, according to historical accounts, it was the son of the Moroccan leader, Ali Ben Youssef, who set up an effective irrigation system in order to alleviate the water shortage. Known as Khettara, it consisted of a network of underground channels linked together to bring water from underground to the surface. An estimated 5,000 wells can be counted on the plains. Thanks to this system, the area became fertile. Palm trees grew, and in their shade the vegetable and olive groves flourished, enabling the population to survive.
The present, a luxurious environment
Originally, the Palm Grove covered some 14,000 hectares, but this has now been reduced by roughly half. The conversion of the area into a luxurious spot with hotels, villas, and golf courses has brought wealth to the city through tourism development. But the natural environment, which once contained some 100,000 palm trees, has been damaged. Various pests and the lack of maintenance of the thousand-year-old irrigation system have also contributed to this, which has led to the drying up of many wells.
The surroundings aren’t currently a protected area. The authorities regularly talk of developing plans to improve and reforest this place, which has a thousand years of history and attracts travellers from all over the world. Those who have visited it often remark on the impression the place continues to make, its historical importance, and the beauty of its sunsets.
Things to do in the palm grove of Marrakesh, unforgettable routes
Despite the urbanisation of the enclave, the Palm Grove of Marrakesh remains a mythical place, where you can imagine the city’s past. It isn’t usually crowded and its size ensures there are areas where you can enjoy peace and quiet. Visitors often arrive in horse-drawn carriages. You can hire a horse-drawn carriage in the medina area or in the New Town. From the popular Jemaa el Fna Square (internal link) the journey takes two hours.
Once in the area, you can enjoy unforgettable rides on camels, horses, or ponies. For the more energetic of visitors, you can also take part in activities such as quad biking within the surrounding area. It’s quite common to go to one of the luxurious resorts nearby for tea, lunch, or even a dip in the swimming pools. But the greatest treat is undoubtedly enjoying the scenery, the refreshing walk through the palm trees and the spectacular sunsets with the Atlas Mountains in the background.
In this prime location, you’ll find the magnificent 5-star Barceló Palmeraie, with its Arabic architecture, gardens, swimming pools, and excellent wellness treatments.
The experience of a camel ride through the Palm Grove
Many companies offer small group excursions to the Palm Grove, or Palmeraie, in Marrakesh. The itinerary starts and ends at the hotel where the tourists are staying. It includes a typical one-hour camel ride. It’s customary to stop at the home of a Berber family for a welcome aperitif and mint tea.
The rides are unforgettable at sunset. The tour begins after listening to detailed explanations from a guide about the endurance of camels. Camels have been used as a means of transport in Morocco for centuries, thanks to their ability to travel long distances without water. To make the experience more authentic, tourists are provided with traditional Tuareg clothing. The typical “sheish” (turban) to protect you from the sun is a must.
Frequently Asked Questions
¿Dónde se encuentra el Palmeral de Marrakech?
El Palmeral se encuentra en la Route de Fès de Marrakech, al noreste de la ciudad ocupando unas 7.000 hectareas de terreno.
¿Cómo se puede llegar al Palmeral de Marrakech?
En taxi o calesa. Al Palmeral, situado en las afueras de Marrakech, se puede llegar en taxi o contratando un paseo en calesa desde el centro de la ciudad. Se puede alquilar el carruaje en el área de la medina o en la Ciudad Nueva. Desde la popular plaza de Jemaa el Fna el trayecto dura dos horas.
En autobús. Hay un servicio de autobuses turísticos, City Tour, que cuenta con una ruta, ‘Ruta Tour Palmeral’, que se compone de 13 paradas y aborda la zona Norte de la Ciudad, en la que se visita el Palmeral de Marrakech. La duración del tour es de aproximadamente una hora. Otras compañías turísticas también proponen itinerarios para grupos reducidos, que salen de los hoteles rumbo al Palmeral. El precio es a partir de los 20 o 25 euros por persona.
¿Cuál es la mejor forma de visitar el Palmeral de Marrakech?
Dar un paseo en camello por el Palmeral es sin duda la actividad más recomendable y extendida para conocer el Palmeral. Una experiencia auténtica de la que no te arrepentirás.
¿Qué se puede hacer en el Palmeral de Marrakech?
Esta es una de las zonas más lujosas de Marrakech y aquí podrás realizar actividades como jugar al golf, hacer recorridos en quads y por supuesto, pasear en camello. Disfrutarás de un entorno en el que sus vistas a la cordillera del Atlas y fabulosas puestas de sol te conquistarán.