A Day at the Berber Weekly Market — Amizmiz Souk (Tuesdays Only)
The Berber souk excursion is the perfect opportunity to see a traditional Berber market day in the High Atlas mountains. It makes an excellent day trip from Marrakech, and we make sure you get back there by evening.
Amizmiz has the best Berber souk (weekly market) in the region. Every Tuesday, hundreds of small farmers descend on Amizmiz from nearby mountain villages, bringing whatever fruits, vegetables, grains, or livestock they are ready to sell in town. In return, merchants from Marrakech along with local merchants sell items unavailable in the mountains: tea, coffee, sugar, packaged foods, cooking items, clothing, electronics, and much more.
For a visitor on this excursion, there are many things available to buy from the souk: henna, spices, rugs, Berber shoes, pottery, Berber clothing for men and women, handmade wooden kitchen utensils and much more (see photo gallery below). Overall, this is the perfect excursion for someone looking for a day trip with a reduced amount of walking.
We have two different souk day itineraries available: our normal full day excursion that includes a one hour hike out to a local village for lunch and a short cultural encounter or a half day excursion with a tour of the souk and lunch in Amizmiz. Both itineraries are below the photo gallery.
Berber Souk Photo Gallery
These photos can give you a small sense of the scale and excitement of the weekly market day. Click/tap an image to enlarge; click tap enlarged image to advance.
Berber Souk Full Day Itinerary
The full day itinerary gives you the opportunity to see the weekly souk in the morning, followed by an hour long hike out to a nearby village for lunch in a Berber home and some limited cultural encounters.
|9:00 AM||Depart from Marrakech.|
|10:00 AM||Arrive in Amizmiz and begin to tour the souk. After a while, we stop for some Moroccan tea, then prepare for our walk.|
|11:30 PM||Begin walking out to the nearby Berber village of Sidi Hssain, named after a locally revered saint. During this time, you will have the opportunity to ask questions to your guide and learn more about Berber rural life.|
|12:30 PM||Arrive at the village of Sidi Hssain.
|1:00 PM||Have lunch in a local Berber home.|
|2:30 PM||Start walking back to Amizmiz.|
|3:30 PM||Depart from Amizmiz.|
|4:30 PM||Arrive in Marrakech.|
Berber Souk Half Day Itinerary
This half day excursion will give you the chance to see Amizmiz and the famous weekly souk, followed by lunch at a local café. You will be back in Marrakech by around 2:00 PM.
|9:30 AM||Depart from Marrakech.|
|10:30 AM||Arrive in Amizmiz and tour the souk.|
|12:00 PM||Have lunch at a local café.|
|1:00 PM||Depart from Amizmiz.|
|2:00 PM||Arrive in Marrakech.|
Frequently Asked Questions
We know our excursions are different from those of other companies, so we recognize you may have some questions. If you have a question that isn't answered below, please contact us and we’ll get back to you soon.
There is absolutely no requirement to buy anything at the souk. In fact, most of those who tour it simply enjoy seeing the excitement of a rural Berber weekly market, with all the social and commercial exchanges that take place. However, there are a number of items available that former customers have bought at the souk: henna, spices, rugs, Berber shoes, pottery, Berber clothing for men and women, handmade wooden kitchen utensils and much more. If you would like to purchase something, your guide can ask the price of any item. Bargaining is normal, so it is best to decide beforehand how much you are willing to pay for something. If you offer a price and the merchant accepts, it is expected that you will purchase the item, so only make offers after you have decided you really want an item.
Clothing should be relatively modest and cover the legs, shoulders, and upper arms (Moroccan villages are not like the big cities where you might see more Western-style dress). For women, that generally means long trousers that cover your legs completely and no sleeveless shirts. For men, long trousers are normal, but shorts in the summer months are also acceptable. Everyone should be wearing a good, comfortable pair of walking shoes or hiking boots.
If there is a threat of rain, a waterproof jacket/shell or even an inexpensive plastic rain poncho will be necessary. In the colder months, you should also have a warm fleece/sweater/jacket (not necessary in summer months).
You will also need a backpack for the walk out to a village. It does not need to be a large, professional pack – just large enough to carry your water for the day and any personal items you want to have with you. It is also necessary to have sunblock cream for skin protection and probably a hat and sunglasses – all of which will make your time in the sun much more comfortable. There are a number of optional items that you might consider bringing:
- a personal water bottle (we’ll provide bottled water, but it comes in large 1.5 litre containers that might be a bit big to carry while we’re walking)
- any snacks you particularly love
- hand disinfectant gel (for use before eating / after toilet use)
- camera (there will be lots of opportunities for photos, but ask before you take shots of people)
- small binoculars
The normal Berber souk excursion includes about 1 ½ hours of walking around the actual weekly market, followed by an hour of walking out to a nearby village for lunch, with another hour after lunch to return to Amizmiz. To reach the Berber village, we’ll be taking an established route used by locals. The walk will not include any steep climbing, but it will be slightly inclined and you should be in good physical condition. If you ever need a break, let your guide know…no problem!
To stay healthy during your excursion, drink plenty of water, especially in the summer months when you’re walking out to the village. Wearing a hat and sunglasses also protects you from the sun, as does sunblock cream applied beforehand.
Your guide will have a basic first aid kit, but there won’t be oral medications in it. So if there is something you think you might need (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, allergy pills, etc.), please bring it with you.
Lunch will be provided for you during the excursion. You should consider having a good breakfast the morning of the excursion, however.
The actual meal will depend upon the host family we’ll visit. Major meals like a “tajine” normally include meat and vegetables and often bread. For these types of meals, you will need to eat using the bread—we’ll show you how. Couscous with vegetables and meat is often eaten with spoons. Vegetarians should let us know ahead of time whether they are okay eating vegetables cooked in the same dish with meat; if not, we’ll need to make arrangements for separate, strictly vegetarian meals.
We’ll have bottled water for drinking. You will need to carry your water for the day, so have a backpack with you. If this is a concern, let us know ahead of time so we can discuss other possibilities.
After we tour the weekly market, we will have an opportunity to use a toilet in Amizmiz before walking out to a local village. Once there, we’ll visit the home of a Berber family for lunch. Most of the homes have a “squat” toilet where you squat (not sit) over an opening and then (if you wish) rinse with soap and water. We’ll have toilet paper as well. If you need a toilet during the walk out to the village, you’ll have to settle for a “natural setting.”
Our excursions are meant to give you the opportunity to personally experience the life and culture of the Berber people. Therefore, it is important to respect that culture during the time you come in contact with it. Clothing should be relatively modest and cover the legs, shoulders, and upper arms. Taking photos is an important part of the excursion and encouraged, but please ask first before you photograph someone; some don’t like being photographed.
During your time in the village, please remember that you’re visiting someone’s home. As much as possible, try to be aware of rubbish/trash and/or dirty shoes.
Even for married couples, public displays of affection (such as kissing) are considered inappropriate and will cause the family and villagers to avoid us. You should refrain from this in public.
Young children may approach you and ask for things. Consult your guide. It may be best to give to their parents if you’re so inclined (though it’s by no means necessary).
We want to make it very clear that our stated price includes everything for the day. You will not need to spend any money beyond the cost of transport and our excursion price. Nor will we ever take you to a merchant and pressure you to buy something—you can be 100% certain of that. However, we are occasionally asked, “But what if I want to tip the host family, guide, or donkey owner? Is that acceptable?” Culturally, and according to our company policy, yes. But no one is expecting it and there will be no awkward moments or pauses in anticipation of one. We’re simply happy to have you come on one of our excursions.