Horse-drawn carriages are a popular Marrakech tourist attraction. Visitors heading in to the market will pass a long queue of carriages parked along the promenade waiting patiently to take visitors on a tour of the city. I only associate two US cities with the horse drawn carriages. New York (Central Park) and New Orleans, where I did a haunted carriage ride with my wife several years ago. If you negotiate a price at the park, it will likely be in the range of 120 to 180 dirham (about thirteen to twenty dollars) depending on the length. The rides are usually between half an hour to an hour.
As part of our tour, we opted in for a high end experience. Our hotel was located about one mile from the medina. A row of carriages lined up on the street in front of our hotel and took us on an meandering journey toward the medina. The carriages took side roads that we had not been on before giving us a bit more of the sights of the area around our hotel. the carriages then boldly entered the main plaza close to sunset, creating even more of a spectacle than the carnival like atmosphere already beginning to emerge on the square.
Our carriage ride was part of a dinner package that was unbelievable. I will talk about the dinner in greater detail later. But suffice it to say, it was an incredible fine-dining experience. Combined, the carriage and dinner were sixty-five dollars per person. While expensive, the majority of that money went toward the meal, which was hosted at a private house that is used as a restaurant. The carriage ride itself was probably only fifteen or twenty dollars tops. With four people per carriage, that works out to less than five dollars. So the majority of the cost went towards dinner and entertainment. My wife and never spend that kind of money on food. But on vacation, on a tour-oriented excursion, sometimes we splurge. I think we got our money's worth.
So back to the carriages. You have options. Our ride served two purposes. It took us to our destination, but also took a scenic route that included a trip through the market. I was a bit surprised the horses were allowed in the square with the number of people milling about. It was still daylight (barely) and we didn't go too far into the square, so I'm guessing we may have pushed the envelope a bit. For tourists wanting to take a tour, you can take the carriages to see the ramparts, or to explore some of the sights. There are organized tours that include the gardens or, like ours, dinner at Lotus Privelege. The tour we took is listed on Viator for close to one hundred dollars, so it looks like we saved significantly booking it as part of our tour.
As an animal lover, I was a bit concerned about the health and welfare of the horses. They looked to be well cared for. I was concerned about how close cars were getting to us as we rode on public streets, but the horses did not seem phased by the traffic.
If you plan to just find a caleche when you arrive at the medina, rather than booking a tour online, you will find the queue located on the road between the Koutoubia Mosque and the square at Djema el Fna. You can expect the price to be quoted far higher than what the driver will expect you to pay. Haggle. That is part of the culture. If you are going for a short carriage ride, I wouldn't expect to pay more than twenty dollars. For longer than one hour, the price will go up from there.
The carriages are a fun way to see the city. It is relaxing, even with traffic present. If the horses didn't mind, I didn't mind. The horses seemed fine with the traffic. The price isn't outrageous, so if your feet need a rest, consider riding for a bit. It is a fun experience.
All photos are my own. They may be reproduced with prior permission.