Satvada Retreats, Morocco
Yoga, mindfulness and walking holidays in Morocco’s special spots
Best for: A well rounded yoga escape, especially good for beginner yogis
Not for: A physically demanding yoga programme
Takes up to 10 guests. 15 at New Year.
Satvada Retreats offer three types of yoga and mindfulness holidays that are perfect for those who want to explore Morocco. Choose five night breaks with walking in a kasbah at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, or three night weekends at a riad in Marrakech. You’ll eat delicious vegetarian food and enjoy massages with local therapists. The vibe is relaxed and uncompetitive, yoga classes will always include an element of mindfulness, and cake and wine are on offer for those who choose.
The kind, sensitive teachers are hand-picked for their mindful, inclusive approach, and all have specialist training in yoga therapy, mindfulness and/or yoga nidra.
Outside the high season it can get cold at night in Morocco, and in the Atlas Mountains the swimming pool is unheated and can be chilly to swim in.
Read our expert review
Caroline Philips and her daughter review Satvada Retreats’ yoga and walking holiday in the Atlas Mountains and rejuvenate with calm yoga, brilliant walks and super food
Take your pick from three types of retreat in Morocco that all pivot around daily yoga. Atlas mountain holidays suit outdoor types seeking adventure and physical challenge, while the Wellbeing weekends attract those seeking to chill out, try their hand at yoga or, especially in Marrakech, indulge in culture and shopping!
On each retreat there are twice-daily 75-minute or 90-minute mindful yoga sessions: Hatha flow in the morning and a mixture of restorative yin, restorative yoga, yoga nidra and mindfulness in the evening.
Satvada Retreats uses several different teachers on its retreats, so who you get will depend when you go. Teachers include Daniel Groom, an experienced yoga teacher and yoga therapist known for his kind, therapeutic approach; Vikki Stevenson, an accomplished, welcoming yoga teacher with a gift for teaching both dynamic yoga with a focus on alignment and yoga nidra; and Anja Brierley Lange, a friendly, experienced yoga teacher who specialises in beautifully taught vinyasa flow yoga and yoga nidra.
You’ll be based at a private kasbah at Tahanaout in the spectacular foothills of the Atlas Mountains, and combine morning yoga classes with daily 3-hour hikes that include visits to Berber villages and an optional all-day mountain hike on one day.
Yoga classes over five mornings build into quite a strong practice, but in an accessible way, from wherever you are starting, so both beginners and more advanced practitioners will be challenged.
Between times sit on a bench in the pretty garden to read and enjoy the stupendous views, have a swim in the pool (though in November it can be chilly as it’s unheated) or use book treatments at the hotel’s hammam.
You can book a body scrub which uses traditional black soap containing olives and eucalyptus and is followed by a clay body mask containing aromatic plant extracts.
If you want to explore further, for an extra charge you can be taken into Marrakech to shop and sightsee or go horse riding on frisky Arab ponies.
Held in a lovely riad in the exciting medina (walled city), these three night long weekends include twice-daily yoga classes and a massage treatment; in between there is plenty of spare time to explore the magical city of Marrakech and its surroundings.
Step out of the Riad and every sense is assaulted – the city is jam-packed with people, gorgeous bright colours, tantalising and not-so-pleasant smells, plus a totally different culture. If it becomes overwhelming, perch up in a rooftop café or restaurant on the main square, Djemma el Fnar, and watch the bustle below. The beauty of staying at the riad is that you can retreat back to its sanctuary at any time.
Take sturdy walking shoes to the Atlas Mountains. Pack layers for winter retreats, as nights are cold. There is wifi at all the venues, though it can be very variable. There is always the option to extend your stay in all Morocco venues, either taking nights before or after the retreat.
When to Go
Spring and autumn bring perfect warm-to-hot weather, though winter in and around Marrakech is a delight, with warm, sunny days and cold nights – perfect for lighting fires.
Food at all venues is plentiful, healthy and home-cooked vegetarian. Each meal is locally sourced and freshly prepared and so delicious it’s easy to eat way more than one should – expect a mixture of rustic Moroccan with the odd French influence. Depending on the holiday you choose you’ll have either breakfast (on the five day) or brunch (on the weekends), then lunch (five day) or afternoon tea (weekends) and dinner (both!).
Atlas Mountains: Meals are convivial on Satvada Retreat’s yoga and walking holidays in the Atlas mountains, served either outside on the patio or in the spacious inside dining room. In the morning there might be Berber eggs made with tomatoes and herbs, pancakes and juice from just-picked oranges and for lunch salads with something along the lines of a cauliflower gratin. Dinner is a choice of three courses that may include a soup, then a tagine or stew, always a salad and a delicious dessert.
This is not a retreat for the hair-shirt brigade: there’s beer and wine (at an extra charge) for those who want it. And for tea, slabs of delicious cake: think chocolate or plum tart, and Moroccan mint tea poured from on high. Water is always freely available and there’s the option of tea or coffee after meals. Satvada can also cater for specific diets if given warning.
Marrakech: Meals on the Marrakech long weekend are taken upstairs on the roof terrace or down in the atmospheric courtyard. The food is excellent; vegetarian by default, locally sourced and all traditional Moroccan cuisine. Each meal is freshly prepared and so delicious it’s easy to eat way more than one should. There’s a huge variety of fruit on offer should you feel peckish before morning yoga. Brunch (after yoga) always included bread, olive oil and yoghurt as a baseline with other dishes to follow. You’ll get to try a favourite traditional breakfast, Shakshuka, made with whole eggs, tomatoes and rich spices.
Evening meals included stews and tagine, always with salad, bread and traditional deserts with honey. Water and fruit juices were always freely available and there’s the option of tea or coffee after meals. Delicious cakes are served up in the afternoon.
Satvada makes a point of only using carefully vetted local staff for massages, and local guides for city and mountain walks, rather than flying out guides or therapists especially for the retreat. As well as adding authenticity and saving on air miles, this means you’ll get into contact with local people during your retreat. The Atlas mountain venue runs entirely on renewable energy.
Marrakech, Atlas Mountains
Marrakech – 40 minutes from the Atlas Mountains venue, 15 minutes from the Marrakech venue