Green getaway along the water, in the Ourika Valley
To take a breath of fresh air, Marrakchis like to go to the Ourika Valley. You spend the day in lush landscapes and discover small Berber villages clinging to the High Atlas mountains. It’s a magnificent 60-kilometer getaway following the river, and the opportunity to hike to the Ourika waterfalls
To get there:
- With your own car, at your own pace, leave early in the morning to enjoy everything, it’s so beautiful!
- Through a travel agency: We recommend choosing an excursion that offers a lunch in a Berber family in a village. It’s an authentic moment that will allow you to learn a lot about Berber culture and a way to support rural communities.
- By bus or shared taxi to Setti Fatma, the starting point for hikes.
Stops along the way:
- The village of Tnine Ourika
At kilometer 34 (from Marrakech), this is where we enter the valley and its fabulous landscapes!
As its name suggests, Monday is market day by the river. There’s a big crowd, with villagers coming from sometimes distant and isolated hamlets. It’s a must-see stop for its atmosphere and typical scenes of rural markets.
Also in Tnine Ourika, and open every day (closed in August), the bio-aromatic garden offers a visit to its plantations, certified organic cosmetic products, and the possibility of booking a foot bath and massage (very pleasant before or after a hike!).
On the road to the valley, you can see how argan oil is made in cooperatives offering fair working conditions, in a supportive framework that allows women to acquire financial autonomy.
Small café-restaurants by the river:
Charming riverside cafés that are crowded on weekends. It can sometimes take a long time to eat there, but you should at least have a tea or a soda to share in the popular and family atmosphere and laze by the water for a while.
The suspended bridges over the river
The wooden footbridges built by the villagers to cross the river have a delightful scent of adventure. Take a little stroll across them, admire the carefully tended gardens, and the orchards of fruit trees that are magical when they’re in bloom.
Don’t hesitate to meet the locals, a greeting, a smile… and all distances and differences disappear.
To hike or not to hike?
Many hikes are possible from the villages of Ourika. The High Atlas mountains climb up to 4000 meters. For the most beautiful expeditions, you need time (ideally several days) and the services of a professional guide.
We offer here an alternative that is accessible to everyone, which will make you want to come back for a longer stay in the heart of these tough but hospitable Berber mountains.
The waterfall hike
The village of Setti Fatma is the starting point for the “Ourika Waterfalls” hike. However, without technical difficulties, however, we still advise you to wear suitable shoes as some passages can be slippery.
The first waterfall is close, the following ones require a little more effort but there will be fewer people. You can swim in the cool waters that flow from the Atlas Mountains and admire the mountains dotted with small isolated Berber villages.
It takes 2 hours for this hike to be done with or without a guide.
Hiking for little explorers
If you are with young children, you may prefer a hike with muleteers through fields and Berber villages. Your little ones will be delighted to ride a donkey to go on an expedition in the heart of nature.
The return to Marrakech (about 1 hour) is by the same route but you will rediscover the landscape completely in the light of the sunset.
The Ourika valley is very different depending on the seasons but beautiful all year round.
It’s a great escape that offers you many options according to your desires!
It’s much cooler there than in Marrakech (sometimes up to 15°C difference), so you should bring a slightly warm garment.
Don’t forget sunscreen and hats, especially between March and September. Also, bring a swimsuit and practical walking shoes.