Places

Adventure in the Valleys

Ourika Valley, Atlas Mountains, Morocco

It can be very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that, aside from its gorgeous coastline, Morocco is a dry, arid kingdom, with nothing but dusty roads threading between sandy fields and sun-baked cities.

In reality however, Morocco is dotted with verdant fields, large wooded areas and sparkling streams. In the south near El-Kelaâ M’Gouna is Rose Valley, where delicate pink blooms proliferate for miles and miles, and the foothills and lower slopes of Mount Toubkal are covered with all manner of trees, from the juniper and Atlas cedar to the famous argan.

One of the most beautiful places to visit is the Ourika Valley. Carved out over millennia by rain washing down from the High Atlas mountains it is now a fertile area where fruit and nut trees grow by the hundreds. White capped peaks tower over the valley, and it’s possible to see traditional Berber villages nestled on the hillsides.

The valley lies just a few miles from Marrakech, so it’s a popular day trip from the Red City and there are many local companies who will arrange guided tours and excursions around the area. These often take the form of treks that take in the sights of this remarkable location.

It’s a fantastic way to connect with the authentic heart of Morocco as many tours will take you into the heart of Amazigh villages and allow you to experience the traditional crafts and activities that still happen today. The village of Setti Fatma is an extremely popular destination as it’s a short distance from seven waterfalls that cascade from rocky outcrops above. The spray at the bottom is a nice way to cool down too if you’re feeling the Moroccan heat.

Also in the area are paths that climb to Imlil and the Toubkal National Park, as well as Oukaïmeden, which has the best skiing in Morocco, and also prehistoric rock carvings that predate almost everything else in the kingdom.

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