The countryside around Essaouira is tailor made for exploring on two wheels. Rolling hills, sweeping panoramic views, tarmac roads or well-maintained tracks, Berber villages, and mile upon mile of golden coastline.
If you have your motorcycle license, a tour is easy to arrange, but what about the rest of us? A pedal powered bicycle will limit your range (and test your stamina), and a quad bikes are loud and not great for the environment. Is there a middle ground?
We may just have found it.
Located in the heart of the medina, Lou’s Rides offer eco-friendly electric bike tours, complete with mega-cool vintage helmets and bike design. With the wide handlebars and comfy seats, prepare yourself for a bike tour with a difference.
Where to find Lou’s Rides in Essaouira
A few steps from Bab Sbaa on Rue Abbas Essaidi, Lou’s Rides is handily located at the edge of the medina and only a short walk from most hotels and riads. If you’re based further afield, the tour prices include round-trip transfer.
About the electric bikes
If your mental picture of an electric bike is a functional, heavy and unattractive machine, then be prepared for a shock when you enter Lou’s Rides and find the vintage bikes lined up against the wall. They look amazing, with their wide handlebars, leather seats and stylish paintwork.
They’re a 100% electric vintage bike, which means they’re quiet and non-polluting, for an eco-responsible activity. The almost complete absence of noise is a big plus-point; it means you avoid annoying other people with your engine noise and, as you’re riding along, the ride is much more peaceful and helps you soak in the Moroccan countryside.
Are kids allowed on the bikes?
The bikes are easy to ride but you must be aged over 16 to drive one of the bikes. No license is required. Kids aged 10-16 can ride as a passenger but under-10’s are not permitted on these tours unfortunately.
What tours are available?
There are three tours available, a one-hour tour and two half-day tours (more to be added later this year):
- Sunset Odyssey (half a day, starting around 2pm, depending on Essaouira sunset time)
- Three Valleys Journey (half day, starting at 9:45am, includes lunch)
- Express Discovery (one hour trip to Diabat from Essaouira)
Lou’s Rides offer much more than just a sightseeing tour. A tour with Lou’s Rides is an immersive and personalised experience to explore the local region, culture, and people in small group sizes. You’ll get the chance to visit a Berber village, meet a clay artist, explore Argan hills, spot wildlife, and interact with locals on your chosen tour.
The day before your bike tour
Once you’ve booked and confirmed your tour, you’ll need to pop into the shop the day before to sign some forms and select your bike and helmet. The friendly Lou was there to meet us and answer any questions.
The bikes are lined up against a wall ready and waiting for you, with a choice of colours to choose from. Aside from the colour, there’s no difference between the bikes. The most difficult decision is in choosing a helmet. The vintage designs are beautiful and leave you spoilt for choice. Once you’ve picked, the bikes and helmets are put to one side, ready to be transported to the starting point the next day.
You might also get the chance to meet your guide for the next day, we were introduced to Ismail and had a quick chat about the upcoming adventure.
Our experience of the sunset odyssey tour
Everything is well-organised on the tour and this starts as soon as you arrive at the shop. In case you’re wondering, we didn’t actually ride the bikes directly from the medina (phew). Instead, we took a short stroll to the parking area outside Bab Sbaa, where a private vehicle was waiting to take us to the starting point. On the 25 minute drive, our guide Ismail chatted to us about the history of Essaouira and gave an outline of the day ahead.
We left the main road and bounced along a track towards a concrete house where our bikes waited patiently for us in the morning sun. With the light reflecting off the shiny chrome and our helmets resting invitingly on the seats, it really felt like we were at the beginning of an adventure.
The bikes are easy to operate, so the initial instruction and safety briefing was fairly short. A twist of the throttle moves you forward and the brakes work the same as a normal bicycle.
We were slightly wobbly for the first few minutes as we got used to the balance and weight of the bikes, but Ismail planned a simple first leg to help us get accustomed to everything. By the time we stopped a few minutes later at a viewpoint, we felt like we knew what we were doing. At no point on the tour did we feel rushed, and the road was nice and quiet.
The tour begins high in the hills, with an amazing view down into the valley. Throughout the day, there’s a good balance between riding time, rest breaks and activities. At no stage did we feel like we’d been riding too long, if anything it was sometimes a slight disappointment when we had to stop as the bikes are so comfortable and easy to ride.
As you make your way down from the hills towards the coast and Sidi Kaouki, there are breaks at a local musician’s museum and gallery, an Argan tree (reputedly the oldest in Morocco) and also a chance to interact with a nomadic herder. This was actually one of the highlights as hungry goats clustered around us, with a few camels lurking in the distance.
It was a interesting to see the goats climbing the trees under their own volition, rather than the more contrived examples in tourist areas. The herder was kind and friendly, the peace and quiet of the surroundings only interrupted by the noise of goats bleating.
A true highlight of the tour was meeting a lovely family at their home, with the chance to share some tea and bread with them in one of the stone rooms. From experience, these interactions can sometimes feel quite forced with the host family trying to recreate a lifestyle for the benefit on their visitors. But it really didn’t feel like that here; of course they knew we were coming, and it was part of a tour, but the family were kind and welcoming, and we loved chatting to them.
Our guide Ismail was a welcome presence throughout the whole day and put everyone at ease, always encouraging us to keep the pace up without rushing, and happy to take as many photos as we wanted. He was fluent in Arabic and English which made all of the interactions a breeze.
Before long, we needed to bid farewell to the family and make our way towards the setting sun and the beachside village of Sidi Kaouki, where the tour was due to end. Dropping down from the hills with the coastline, ocean and sun guiding the way was a true highlight, one of our favourite ever experiences in Morocco.
We just had time for a beer watching the sky turn orange before heading back to Essaouira in the private vehicle after saying goodbye to Ismail and Lou.
How to book a tour with Lou’s Rides
Head over to Lou’s Rides website to book your tour. Lou is quick to respond and happy to answer any questions you may have.
Final thoughts on an Essaouira tour with Lou’s Rides
We’re not always keen on tours, often preferring to do own thing, but we were so pleased we chose to spend a day with Lou’s Rides. You won’t find transport this cool and stylish anywhere else in Essaouira and, if you don’t have a motorcycle license, this tour is the only way to experience an open-air adventure.
The bikes are easy to control and it’s a clever idea to use these quiet electric versions in the Moroccan countryside as it allows you to enjoy the quiet surroundings, something the quad-bike tours cannot offer.
With a friendly and knowledgeable guide, breath-taking scenery, interesting activities, and the vintage bikes, Lou’s Rides is the perfect day trip from Essaouira.
Explore Essaouira ebook£9.45
Explore Essaouira ebook
Updated for 2024, the Explore Essaouira ebook is the only travel guide you need for exploring Essaouira. It is jam packed with inspiration on what to do, where to eat, where to stay, and also includes a step-by-step self-guided walking tour (with photos).
This is a PDF download for use offline and on the go (and ad-free!). Save it to read on the plane to Morocco, download to your phone to follow the self-guided walking tour around the medina, or print it off at home before you leave on your adventures and highlight all the bits you want to remember for your visit.
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