15 Places to go in South Morocco that you must not miss! #MuchMorocco

By Jonathan Howe March 3rd, 2016 Posted in Africa Travel Blog, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 28 Comments

Surfing spots, check! Mountains, check! Rivers, check! Canyons, check! Farms, check! Beach, check! Luxury properties, check! Desert, check! Seems like they have everything here in Morocco! Marrakech is undoubtedly on the bucket list of anyone with the travel bug, for its notorious sense of chaos, overwhelming colours, smells and sounds in stark contrast to the tranquility found within the walls of the city’s atmospheric luxury palaces and riads. Once exhausted from the many streets of the medinas and scrubbed clean in the hammam there are a million more experiences waiting outside of the city.

Things to do in South Morocco - Erg Chagaga Desert

The best way to travel through Morocco is independently, using the country’s vast network of amazing roads. Driving in Morroco is pretty safe and from our own experience, driving standards were high and we saw very little of the dangerous driving that you might normally associate with Africa. On our ten-day adventure in Morocco, we travelled through the Draa Valley by motorbike with Palm Road, then rented a 4X4 Mitsubishi Pajero from Safasud Cars for a road trip along the Atlantic Coast to Essaouira.

Two Monkeys Tours

We were so lucky to spend 11 days exploring Marrakech and South Morocco with MuchMorocco as our guides and here’s our pick of the 15 highlights you shouldn’t miss!

1. Ourika Valley

Two Monkeys Travel - Africa - Morocco - places to go in morocco 1Two Monkeys Travel - Africa - Morocco - places to go in morocco 115 Places to go in South Morocco – Photo – Bryce Edwards

Known as a cool, blooming and colourful retreat from the stifling heat of the cities, this valley is home to a variety of plant life and cultivation due to its comfortable temperatures and location in the shade of the Atlas Mountains. Spring is when the valley really comes alive, offering beautiful treks through wild flowers and almond and cherry orchards. Only 45 minutes by car south of Marrakech, it’s so easy to escape for a couple of days and learn about the nature and produce of the valley. Here are some suggestions of what you can do:

Dar Taliba: a girl’s secondary school specializing in botany and research on indigenous herbs and their properties. Run by a local NGO the school offers education to students from remote villages and tourists can support by visiting and sampling refreshing herbal teas between 3 and 5pm Monday to Thursday and Saturday for a donation between Dh250 and 500.

La Cledes Huiles: a mecca for olive enthusiasts, this eco-museum is housed in a farmhouse where you can learn all about the olive-oil making process with many tastings on offer. Also on site is a restaurant, accommodation and a pool hidden in the olive grove.

Safronerie: Visitors to this saffron farm in early to mid-November between 4 and 5am can witness the harvest of the saffron flower, with an option to buy this gold-dust at Dh13 per gram.

2. Ouirgane Valley

Another 45 minutes south brings you higher into the Atlas Mountains to the Toubkal National Park and the quaint Berber Village of Ouirgane. At 1000 metres travellers here will be rewarded with a quieter setting for great treks and mountain-biking excursions along the river Nfis and up into the mountains to see the variety of birdlife that reside here.

Berber Markets: Asni on Saturdays is 15kms away, Talat n’ Yacoub on Wednesdays is 35kms away and Ouirgane itself on Thursdays.

Tinmal Mosque: nice to wander to slowly in the morning enjoying incredible views along the way.

Activities: Walking, mule and horseback treks

3. Takerkoust Lake

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40 kilometres from Marrakech is a man-made lake, originally built to provide electricity to city and surrounding areas and also as irrigation for the fields of Haouz roughly 80 years ago, it is now popular with locals and tourists alike to swim, sunbathe and partake in the many available activities. Although not originally a natural feature the lake blends beautifully with the stunning landscapes around it. Recommended activities are:

Activities on the lake: jet-skiing, kayaking, water-skiing, wake-boarding, pedal-boating and fishing

On land: quad biking, walking, mountain-biking, horse-riding

Above ground: microlight flights, either as a passenger or pilot!

4. Tichka Pass

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This pass through the High Atlas Mountains sits at 2,260 metres above sea level (the highest in Morocco) and travelers can find it by taking the Route Nationale 9 towards Ourzazate from Marrakech. The best time to make this journey is in winter with the possibility of adding snow-capped peaks to the already remarkable views, but take note that this is a very winding pass so take lots of breaks to enjoy the scenery and avoid car sickness.

5. Draa Valley

Two Monkeys Travel - Africa - Morocco - places to go in morocco 115 Places to go in South Morocco – Photo: Singa Hitam

The lushest section of this valley is the 95 km stretch between Agdez and Zagora in which the most oases can be found emerging from the desert. This drive can be done in about 4 hours, but those with more time should take the Circuits Touristiques which take you directly through the vibrant scenery.

Places to visit in the valley:

Zagora: a trading post and meeting place, this lonely spot often hosts lively festivals and a regional souk on Wednesday and Sunday.

Tamegroute: a place of pilgrimage home to a Quranic school and also a library of ancient illuminated texts.

Kasbah Timidarte: One of the finest examples dating from the 17th century, now open as a guest house.

6. Merzouga Dunes

Two Monkeys Travel - Africa - Morocco - places to go in morocco 115 Places to go in South Morocco – Photo: Dimitry B.

Merzouga and Hassi Labied are two villages shadowed by dunes that rise dramatically above them, Erg Chebbi. The legend goes that these dunes bury a wealthy family who refused to shelter a poor woman and her son as a punishment from God, now they are the dream destination of visitors seeking a once in a lifetime desert experience. A paved road from Ouarzazate gives access to the edge of the dunes, where many tour companies offer journeys by 4WD and of course by camel back.

7. Todra Canyon

Two Monkeys Travel - Africa - Morocco - places to go in morocco 115 Places to go in South Morocco – Photo: Singa Hitam

If timed correctly, tourists will arrive at this orange limestone ravine early in the morning in time to see the sun’s golden glow light up the gorge and the crystal-clear river below. The deepest points of the fault reach 300 meters with a narrow pass for trekkers to follow. Travelling from Tinerhir you will pass through green palm groves and Berber villages for 15km before reaching this magnificent site. 18km on the other side will bring you to another Berber village called Tamtattouche and 95km further is Immilchil.

8. Dades Canyon

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The best way to reach this spectacle of nature is by rented 4WD, following the N10 route and travelling 110kms south through El Kelaa and Boumalne Dades in the valley of roses. Once in the gorge (spring is the best time) you will find gardens of palms, walnut, almond, poplar and argan trees, and incredible landscape for hiking, rafting and rock climbing.

9. Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou

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South Morroco’s silhouette is one of overlapping blocks rising into hillsides as a result of the traditional Ksars, many houses crowded inside defense walls with corner towers for extra fortification. Ourzazate is home to one of most striking of these pre-saharan architectural treasures, Ait-Ben-Haddou.

10. Essaouira

Two Monkeys Travel - Africa - Morocco - places to go in morocco 115 Places to go in South Morocco

Built by the same Frenchman as Saint-Malo, one could be forgiven for mistaking this North-African Port for the coast of Brittany. Once inside the city walls however, its true Moroccan identity is revealed through its red walls towering over narrow alleys in which skilled woodworkers and painters sell their wares amongst towers of aromatic spices. Sun-seekers beware; this seaside town is known for its fierce winds that make the beach less than ideal for sunbathing, but great for wind-surfing.

11. Ammeln Valley

Home to twenty-six villages each rich in cultivated green land and stunning backdrops of the Jebel el Kest. The landscape around these villages is perfect for trekking, biking or rock-climbing and a few of these worth mentioning are:

Oumesnat: home to La Maison Traditionelle in which resides a Berber family teaching visitors about daily life there

Anameur: the source of a natural spring

Tazoulte: famous for its ancient Jewish Cemetery and Jewish silverware

Tagoudiche: the highest village accessible by a rough track in 4X4

Tirnmatmat: even further and more remote where prehistoric rock-carvings can be found.

The Ameln Valley has the majestic Jebel el Kest as a backdrop, with gold and copper colored terrain punctuated with patches of green cultivated land watered by springs and irrigation canals. The valley has twenty-six village

12. Taroudant Old City

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With a slower-paced, more laid-back atmosphere than Marrakech, Taroudant offers the opportunity to leisurely stroll through the Medina within the old city’s red mud walls with distant views of the snowy-peaks of the Atlas Mountains. Only 65km from Al-Massira airport many visitors make this their base-camp for activities further afield with both the mountains and the coast in easy reach.

13. Tizi’n Test Pass (2000 meters)

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Almost reaching the height of the Tichka pass at 2092 metres above sea level, Tizi n’Test cuts right through the centre of the Atlas Mountains connecting Marrakech with the Souss Plain and the desert. Since its completion by the French in 1932 the engineering required has been admired for allowing important trade passage that had been otherwise impossible before. While manoeuvring the hair-pin bends travellers can appreciate incredible panoramas of the Souss Valley and spot the groups of villages in the Nfiss Valley on the descent.

14. Erg Chigaga Desert

Things to do in South Morocco - Erg Chigaga

Many tourists visit Morocco with the dream of trekking through the Sahara on camel back, sleeping under the canvas of a luxury tent and waking up to a perfect sunrise over the dunes. While Morocco has a huge expanse of desert this particular stretch, being more isolated, offers the peace, quiet and tranquility to recreate that dream. The Erg Chigaga dunes are 60 km south west of M’Hamid and can be reached by 4×4 in just a couple of hours, or 5 days there and back by camel alone.

15. Atlantic Coast Road

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Having previously been quite an overlooked and neglected coastline, these five-hundred kilometres of the Atlantic are now home to twenty percent of the country’s population. With the major cities of Rabat and Casablanca attracting many of the region’s visitors, the lesser-known resorts further south also offer charming insights into the life of the more Europeanised Moroccans in resorts like Essaouira, Oualida and El Jadida. With its strong winds and currents the Atlantic coastline is very popular with surfers and windsurfers.

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Our 10-day adventure in Morocco was made possible by Much Morocco  who organised all of our hotels and itinerary.

Two Monkeys Travel - Africa - Morocco - places to go in morocco

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28 thoughts on “15 Places to go in South Morocco that you must not miss! #MuchMorocco

  1. Morocco is truthfully a magical land; a paradise you will at no time forget. I am going on my 3rd holiday and I can’t get there fast enough.

  2. Fantastic guide! I have pinned it. I hope to make it to Morocco in the next 12 months so this will come in handy!

  3. How beautiful is Morocco! Those dunes are gorgeous and Todra Canyon reminds me of Utah, USA. Hoping to visit in the near future.

    1. i think u would love it here in morocco especially Essaouira it is a very happy culture and a vibrant city.

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Written by Jonathan Howe

Jon is the Old White Monkey. Born in the south of England, Jon spent much of his early childhood in Kenya and Malawi, before moving to the Lake District in North West England aged 13 where he acquired a northern accent and a love for lakes, mountains, waterfalls, black pudding and gravy! After 14 years of studying and working in various (very various!) jobs, he too felt the need to get out and see the rest of the world. He loves tropical beaches, surfing, hiking, the outdoors, yoga, adventure sports and motorbikes!

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