Morocco Gorges and Waterfalls
``Go with the flow. Roar with excitement. Let your cares fall away. Immerse yourself in nature. Listen to its music.``
The Valley of the Roses sits at the foot of the High Atlas, where the mountains meet the Dades Valley which in turn leads to the Dades Gorge. It is irrigated by the Assif M’Goun River and Kelaat M’gouna is the largest town.
Damascus Roses are cultivated in two areas of this region. From the town of Kelaat M’gouna, the valley continues some 30 km through sustainable farmed plots of land surrounded by the roses and punctuated by rammed earth buildings. At the head of the valley are several gorges: Agouti and Aitmrou.
Continue on the route east along the Route of a Thousand Kasbahs and you come to Boumalne Dades: also a growing area of roses, but more importantly, the start of the Dades Valley which winds its way through small villages with old kasbahs and the most incredible rock formations, to bring you up to the famous Dades Gorge. There are Nomadic people still living in caves in this region, from the time the Portuguese were here, and you can see the strong features of the people that are their descendants.
Continue along the route from Boumalne to reach the town of Tinghir and you enter the picturesque route that takes you into the Todra Gorge: a magnificent 300 metre high narrow canyon, popular with international rock climbers. All these Gorges offer superb accommodation options. Great trekking options are also available on foot and with mules.
The Ounila Gorge is in the Ounila Valley in the High Atlas Mountains. This valley hides many remote Berber villages and is on the old caravan route as salt is produced in great pans in one of the villages. Kasbah Telouet: a fantastic palace, once the stronghold of the Pacha of Marrakech is located in the valley. If you travel along this valley you will come to Ait Benhaddou: a fortress Ksar and well known as a blockbuster filming location.
There are of course more gorges around the country; these are the more popular for tourists to visit.
Morocco boasts the most spectacular waterfall in North Africa: the Ouzoud Cascades. A three tiered spectacular 110 metre falls, it is really awesome. It is one of the favourite day trips from Marrakech, a great day out and a chance to see the indigenous Barbary Monkeys that live in this region. On the way you can visit the natural stone bridge at Demnate, an impressive feature with a huge fissure created from erosion.
Perhaps one of the second most popular waterfalls is at Setti Fatma, located in the Ourika Valley just an hour’s drive from Marrakech; it is actually seven waterfalls, though usually only the lower one is climbed up to. A ladder leads up to the way to the second waterfall and is more challenging. Suitable footwear is strongly advised and a local guide to help you on the difficult parts is recommended.
The High Atlas hides several more waterfalls for adventurous trekkers and can be reached from Imlil as part of a one day or multi-day trek with a qualified local guide.
In the north of Morocco in the Rif Mountains is the Talassemtane National Park, and just 30 kilometres from the Blue City of Chefchaouen, is Akchour in the Talembote Valley. This is perhaps more attractive in the spring when winter snowmelt and rainfall fills the waterways and creates more impressive waterfalls. There are two, one lower at around 20 metres which also leads to God´s Bridge; a natural stone fissure, and a higher one at 100 metres, each reachable with the use of a local guide and with a difference of approximately an hour and a half hiking distance between them. This would be an ideal day trip if you were spending a few days in Chefchaouen.