Ourika Valley What is it ?
1/ Ourika Valley: a High Atlas Mountains Scenery !
… Along the First Foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, the Ourika valley stretches for 68 km practically from the gates of Marrakech (beginning of the plain of Haouz) to the Village – Douar of Setti Fatma at 1500m altitude. Very easy to reach from the Medina of Marrakech or Gueliz, about 30 km south of the city, Discover the Ourika Valley What is It ? Considered the most frequented of the valleys of the High Atlas which, once ranks it among the most beautiful and green valleys of Morocco with its pretty Berber villages .
The Ourika is actually a river that descends from the Moroccan High Atlas Mountains and flows partly into the Ourika Valley – it is actually a tributary of the great Oued Tensift. In Arabic, the word “Oued” means river so the Ourika is an oued passing through the foothills of the Atlas Mountains from an altitude of 1500m and all the villages extending along its valley to the gates of Marrakech. Caution, thunderstorms can cause serious flooding, as in 1995 when thousands of people died as a result of the overflowing of the bed of the oued.
With a pleasant climate, surrounded by agricultural fields and olive groves, orchards, almond trees and cherry trees, the road crossing the valley is winding and climbing. The nature is luxuriant and abundant in spring after the rainy season with its bright red soil and terracotta colours, the air is cooler as you gain altitude (a difference of 15 Degrees can be felt in summer) through a succession of breathtaking panoramic views.
The origin of the word Ourika comes from Urika, especially the name of the tribe Masmoudas (in Amazigh: Imasmoude), belonging to one of the largest Amazigh groups (founding branch of the Almohad dynasty). The valley is thus mainly populated by people of Berber language and chleuh dialect
2/ What to Visit in the Ourika Valley Morocco ?
Throughout the Valley, besides its beautiful landscapes and its magnificent colours, the Ourika is full of curiosities to discover.
Visitors and tourists will be charmed among other things by:
The Berber ecomuseum of the Ourika valley
Located in the village of Tafza, a village mainly populated by potters, this museum makes us discover and inform us about Berber way of life and culture in general of the valley through an impressive collection of photographs and objects such as carpets, clothing, jewellery, and pottery.etc.
The Safranière of Ourika
Located in the village of Tnine 34 km from Marrakech, this farm that produces saffron has opened its doors for a most interesting visit concerning the Red Gold of Morocco. Opening from the end of October to mid-November during the harvest.
The Garden of Timalizene
Situated in the douar of Timalizene, this mountain garden aligns several terraces, highlighting trees and typical plants of Moroccan of the region through an initiatory journey.
The Bio-Aromatic Garden of Ourika
Located in Douar Elhaddad, this garden with many essences and aromatic and botanical species of the Marrakech region opens its doors to the enthusiasts of medicinal plants and therapeutic virtues for the health and the food. Interesting visiting period: in the spring, from March to June.
3/ Setti Fatma and the 7 waterfalls: Walks and Excursions.
Setti Fatma, with its numerous accommodation and Berber restaurants, is the last village accessible by road and is also the starting point for the daily excursions of hundreds of tourists for the Atlas Mountains waterfalls and for other experienced hikers for its mountainous trails.
Setti Fatma is in fact a picturesque Berber village, crossed by an oued (calm or agitated according to the season) which houses 7 waterfalls in its heights. The 1st of the waterfalls is only 30 min walk through a rocky path and small water streams. A small pond at the foot of the waterfall serves the locals and tourists during the hot summer months to cool off after the ascent, and the restaurants and bars along the crossing offer you sweet breaks. Higher up, the 6 other waterfalls await you along a small path or start a long walk in the direction of the woods (about 2h30 of walk), allowing you to see the Berber macaques and a breathtaking view of the valley and its douars.
Depending on the degree of your independence, you can rent a professional mountain guide for small walks or excursions: by day, by week for real bivouac expedition in the Atlas Mountains. Guides will be at your disposal to adapt the hikes according to your expectations and needs: by day, in bivouac or in real mountain expedition for several days (it is possible to reach the peaks of Oukaimden from the trails leaving from Setti Fatma).
4/ Ourika Valley: How to Get from Marrakech to the Waterfall?
To reach Setti Fatma, the final stage of the valley, it takes about 2 hours or more from Marrakech (exact departure from Bab Igli) depending on the traffic (weekend, bank holidays, and seasons).
There are four options to get there:
– by renting a private car (with or without driver) – from 40 to 60eur.
– either by public transport (bus or big taxi if you like promiscuity), – from 3eur to 10eur (get off at Tnine l’Ourika and take a big taxi to Setti Fatma – pay attention to the return time).
– either by private taxi (negotiate well) your price – from 50 to 80eur (negotiate well the price and the schedules of return).
– or with an Excursion to Ourika through a Tours Agency from Marrakech
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