Tafraoute Things to Do Tips by angiebabe
Tafraoute Things to Do: 13 reviews and 42 photos
piste road down to Tiouadou - well worth it!
A Fantastic drive out to the Afella Ighir - ie the beautiful gorges of Ait Mansour and then on further along the way the hillside ksar villages of Gdourt, which I had a great adventure visiting following tracks through holes ie falling down buildings...though not necessarily safe but made great photos!!, and Aguerd Imlal - both these ksar villages make much more authentic visits than the usual tourist stop of Ait Benhaddou near Ouarzazate..
If you are doing this on a Sunday you can take the opportunity enroute to visit the morning souk at the village of Souk Had Afella Issi - with an old French fortress and dramatically shaped marabout there worth a few minutes for a look - and then continue on down this road to the intersection where the signpost says to Tiouadou or on to the Akka mines...about 10 minutes or 5 km from Souk Had Issi along the piste road to Tiwadou, just go slow but otherwise its fine to go by ordinary car.
A really nice place to stay at Mohammeds Sahnoun Auberge awaits at Tiouadou - with a small oasis around the towns water reserve out the back door. Mohammed has had an interesting life and maintains a great interest in the community, particularly educating the next generation of the importance of caring for the environment with an annual plastic bag collection competition! ie the notorious plastic bag scene hanging in every tree or bush for miles in some parts of Morocco!
An auberge in traditional country house style with great roof views - lovely for having your breakfast or mint tea in the sunshine from there overlooking the oasis and the village nearby - along with a log fire on chilly nights and half or full board available along with interesting ancient villages to discover nearby and walks to ancient rock drawings make this a great inclusion on an itinerary to experience the Anti-Atlas region around Tafraoute.
This is also a recommended cycle route and many keen visitors arrive here by bike, stay overnight and continue on the piste road back to Tafraoute via Tizzerkine and Tarhat gorgke that is not passable by normal car.
From Tiouadou we did a slow drive up piste road, gravel pretty heavy in some places but manageable, up to the village of Tagzout built on a hillside with some interesting houses and doors many painted the typical local red. This village still has a sizeable population despite many leaving after the government approved the water supply to be rechannelled to the nearby gold mine leaving the village with water only once a week!
VERY SADLY I WAS CONTACTED DURING MY TRAVELS IN SOUTH AMERICA IN NOVEMBER TO BE TOLD THAT MOHAMMED SAHNOUN HAD BEEN KILLED AFTER FALLING FROM HIS MOTORBIKE JUST AS HE WAS ARRIVING BACK IN TIOUADOU FROM TAFRAOUTE - WE WERE VERY SHOCKED AND SADDENED BY THIS AS HE HAS BEEN SUCH AN IMPORTANT FACILITATOR IN THE WELL BEING OF HIS VILLAGE AND VERY POPULAR AS A LOCAL GUIDE AND PASSIONATE ABOUT KEEPING THE BERBER HISTORY ALIVE - HIS WIFE HAS TAKEN OVER THE RUNNING OF THE GITE SO PLEASE SUPPORT HER AND CONTINUE TO PROMOTE THIS WONDERFUL LOCATION FOR A PLACE TO CHILL OUT!
Other Contact: http://www.tafraout.info/article
nearing the top of Jebel Kest
The road to Tanalt goes from near the far end of the Ameln valley and its signposted turn hares the sign to Anergui but continues on round and heads up over Jebel Kest to the villages and dramatic landscape behind.
Very scenic with typical red and pink mudbrick houses and kasbahs, many perched on terraced hillsides and blending in or contrasting with wonderful colours typical of the Anti Atlas landscape its one of my favourite roads especially when the almond trees are amass with blossoms..
The road takes you over at least 2 mountain passes dramatically cut into and looping into the terrain with more interesting rock formations seen along the way.
It can be very cold up here during the winter months especially at night but during sunny days the temperatures increase during the day ahead of the lower regions of Tafraoute and the Ameln valley and as early as January spring flowers in yellow, purple, pinks and orange can be seen up here in abundance - along with the stunning almond blossoms when flowering - adding their delicious scent to the gorgeous mountain aroma and atmosphere
This is the road that takes you over the mountain pass called Tizn Tagounit which is all interesting scenery - just prior to the pass is a long stretch of road where there are many almond blossoms - interesting houses and beautiful flowers. Very worth coming in here in season.
The town of Tanalt is situated on an area of land that is almost surrounded by a large gorge - quite a dramatic sight especially from below the town looking over and up another part of the gorge.
When I drove to Tanalt recently I was on my own but was had coffee at a cafe in the middle of town that Id been to before with locals from Tafraoute - also indulged in a couple of boiled eggs served with cumin powder - clean rest room too - and then continued on my way.
Back to the turn off and take the road heading to the town of Outourine. Along this road there are masses of almond flowers and then you arrive at Outourine which is near the hilltop fortified kasbah of Tizourgane and from there you are back on the main road to Tafraoute.
Napoleon's Hat with almond blossoms Jan-February
In French this interesting rock formation is known as Le Chapeau de Napoleon - Napoleons hat....not nose!
1 km and visible from Tafraoute is the town or area's distinctive landmark - most advertising will have this representing Tafraoute as one of many, many interesting or beautiful rock formations or mountains around the area - and they are pretty much pink in colour.
Also characteristic of the area are the houses that are painted pink to match - or some places red - and there is an interesting village sitting around the base of Napoleon's Hat, called Aguerd-Oudad, that like most villages around the area with often fascinating little hobbit like houses and doors in amongst huge rocks and boulders that make an interesting wander.
Particularly nice in late January and February when the pink and white almond blossoms are out in abundance around the village.
I love walking around this village and seeing where i end up in the almost rabbit warren like small paths and stairways...with cute doors, windows and details, and interesting rocks and ruins to take photos of.
There is also a large concrete staircase that takes you up higher above the main village and there are great views over and also over the valley on the other side. There is apparently a path that takes you quite high up the Napoleon's Hat rock but it would be safest if you got an experienced local to guide you up.
There is a concrete footpath alongside the main road all the way from Tafraoute to this village - often locals can be seen taking a walk along here for an evening stroll.
You can also continue on from Aguerd-Oudad a couple of kms or so on further to the 'Painted Rocks' - rocks painted various shades of blue and red by a Belgian painter back in 1984 - another tourist attraction and another tip!
You could also continue for a much longer walk from the painted turning right wards to Aday village and back to Tafrfaoute - it would probably be easier to find you way if you walk via Aday first which is on the road to Tahala and turn left at Aday where there is a sandy road that cuts through to the road to Ait Mansour but brings you out at the painted rocks and then back towards Tafraoute which will take you past Aguerd Oudad - take a big bottle of drinking water and a hat with you!
Directions: 3 km from Tafraoute
beautiful view of Ammeln valley from a village
Visible from Tafraoute is the long stetch of mountain known as Jebel Kest (Jebel means mountain) - with what very clearly looks like the face of a lion in it.
This is a picturesque area with a large usually green and fertile valley and many villages along the base of Jebel Kest. A tar seal road runs along the full length and there are many roads that run up to the villages off the main road and makes a very popular area to cycle, walk or drive around.
Various sites around Jebel Kest have beome increasingly popular with climbers and now gain more regular climbing visitors to Tafraoute - as mentioned in another things to do tip here in my travel page.
Many hotels and guesthouses are situated around this valley also and can make a nice base to stay for a week or so...many do have bikes for rental to spend time in the area - but of course staying in town a few kms is just as much an option or could make shared options.
Many of these villages are very old - a number are in ruins or contains old houses no longer lived in but make interesting seeing for the traditions of berber culture and architecture and for meeting locals...bear in mind a lof of the ladies out here dont take too kindly to cameras!
Houses have been turned into places for tourists to visit and take a look into traditional Berber life here such as the Maison traditionelle, a 400 year old 3 storey berber fortified house, at the village of Oumnesat. Accommodation is also available at Maison Traditionelle, Oumnesat.
Most villages will have a small store where an assortment of provisions are available - handy to know if you need to buy drinks or snacks on your travels - bottled water and liquids are recommended to drink here rather than taking the risk of tap or river water.
Numerous hotels/auberges and guest houses can be found spread throughout the area so if you do need anything there should be someone around to ask for help. Grande taxis also run along the main road - which is the main road to Tiznit via Tahala heading south from Agadir in the north.
The interesection where the road from Tafraoute meets the main roads heading north andto Ait Baha and Agadir, and south to Tiznit via Col Kerdous is known as Ammeln and there is a cafe and several hotels here....this is also where the major festivals for Tafraoute during the year are held. .
Directions: about 4 kms from Tafraoute - theres a good viewpoint along the road as the valley appears coming from Tafraoute
Of course this could be better to be in the shopping tip section - but most items special to Tafraoute recommended for purchase are available to buy every day up in the permanent/covered market area.
Really the weekly souk that brings people from all over the area into town is a great thing to do and get into the midst and atmosphere of the locals at their market day - this is a day of get together, also the local men looking for work mill around so they can be found if required, - and generally be present to see the culture of the the locals. Particularly interesting to see the ladies in their traditional local costumes of black minhaf with various colours and styles of edging and embroidery and their traditional Tafraoute leather shoes.
Traders start moving into the souk the afternoon or evening before so noticeably downtown Tafraoute starts getting busier then.
The tarpaulin covered stalls are set up along the road or path that follows the river down to the next parallel road and out into the open area where livestock are usually held for sale. All sorts of photo and cultural opportunities seeing the range of items for sale and that create a lively day out for the locals....this is also often one of their regular social agendas for catching up with friends and business acquaintances.
Often the ladies dont like photos to be taken of their faces so either be quick when taking a photo with people in your frame or politely ask. Most men dont mind but there are stil a few that dont like any chance of publicity.
Watch it if its been raining as a couple of years ago a flash flood came raging down the river and washed half the weekly market stalls along with a few vehicles and people with it!!
Directions: right in the town centre - along the river and an area across the road on from there
the road up to Tagditch
A few kilometres out of Tafraoute is the beautiful and fertile Ammeln valley making up a large area below the long mountain range of Jebel Kest.
Along the base and up the lower slopes of Jebel Kest are many villages - many lived in and many in ruins, accessed by roads signposted off the main road that runs right through the valley from north to south.
Sunset is great in the area too with long rays of the setting sun shining up through the valley and over the many shapes and formations along the surrounding mountains. So a whole day or afternoon out in the area will delight with changing colours of the day and seeing the activities of the locals in the area.
There are also a number of villages that are actually high up in the mountains of Jebel Kest - such as Anergui, Tagditch and. Once accessed by donkey paths access has been improved with roads built which is important for people who continue to want to eek out their living and make their survival up high in these areas.
Almonds and argane trees grow prolifically around the area - up in these areas the locals are also relying on these to supplement their diets and their incomes and as elsewhere in the area late Jan and Feb are particularly beautiful seasons with the colours of almond trees in blossoms, along with the spring flowers that appear earlier in the sunnier climate.
The winter months can be very cold and bitter with snow falls so life can be harsh but care also needs to be taken if heading on up to these areas.
A trek up to Tagditch is a popular days hike and there are good guides in Tafraoute that frequently take groups of varying sizes up the mountain to this beautiful village.
A good source for a guide and for information can be obtained from one of the local carpet shops Maison du TRoc.
If you want to drive up, ensure you are a confident and experienced driver - the road has a short section of large stoney piste then becomes concreted for the majority of the route. The road is quite steep in places and some corners are rather tight so take care in wet conditions or if driving back down in the dark - particularly take care of falling rocks from the slopes above if the weather has been wet or rain is falling.
The road is mostly one lane but there are a number of passing places along the way - keep an eye out for traffic ahead and behind so that you can take opportunity of a passing place in good time.
There are a couple of areas that make a good opportunity to park and enjoy the view. There is a also a large parking area about half way up that is used for hikers who dont have the time to trek right from the bottom and want to do a shorter trek from the half way mark.
Theres a great view over the valley and the village from the official gate and then head on down to wander around the village in its picturesque setting. The road narrows and goes down over a small river and then you come to 2 shops both with seating areas.
You can park around here and have a wander - or those hiking will be taken on up further as there is another valley behind these village heading on further up to more mountains.
Enjoy!! and people up here are rather friendly.
Also if you are approached by local women asking if you are interested in buying any carpets this is a great opportunity - for many up here there is not a great range of income earning opportunities and many do so by making carpets or selling what may have been in their possession for a number of years. The area is prized for great carpet making and for using very good quality wool and dyes that stay, dont fade and dont run! so if you are particularly looking to buy a carpet you could also go knocking on a few doors to ask!!
Directions: Take the road from Ammeln south through the Ammeln valley - about the 3rd large signpost to the right is to Tagditch. Take this and a little further there is a choice of left or right - take the right road heading up the mountain
A lot of almonds grow around the Anti-Atlas so the area around Tafraoute is well known for its beautiful almond blossom season - and in particular the music festival that is generally held to celebrate the blossoms and their forthcoming crop - this is held anytime from mid Feb to the first weekend in March depending on the weather and season. Over the past few years the festival has been cancelled and this year it was postponed until July.
Blossoms can be found from early January but when Ive been there in March they are in a raggedy end of season state and when there in mid Feb either slightly early or raggedy already - so it really is up to how the season is doing but mid Feb is ideal to aim for if its almond flowers you want to see.
Right around the area the roads are good for seeing them - including the back road to Tanalt where there is a prolific number of almond trees along the way and rather lovely scenery,
and out to Ait Mansour which also has almond blossoms in abundance and even more beautiful during this season.
The road out to Ait Abdellah is stunning with many trees in blossom along the roadsides and in the villages in great abundance and theres an interesting weekly souk at Ait Abdellah on Saturdays along with an interesting granary/agadir to visit a couple of kms past the town.
Also the road to Tahala and Col Kerdous and Ackchour have a lot of lovely almond blossoms in the landscape.
The small villages around Tafraoute such as Aday, Aguerd, and the Ameln valley villages are also extra lovely when surrounded by the pink and white flowers of almond trees.
A lot of Argane trees grow around here too but though the nut looks much like an almond they have no flower and the nut in its original form is very bitter.
entrance to river fed palmeraie&gorge of Ait Mansr
30km from Tafraoute is the beautiful gorge of Ait Mansour with majestic orange cliffs towering above palm trees - with often spectacular shapes and formations and sightings of the remains of granaries and watchtowers on top - with river flowing down through providing a cool oasis in otherwise harsh and dry rocky mountainous landscapes.
The white or pink flowers of almond trees in blossom are an added beauty during January and February.
Well worth a visit for a few hours, a day or even better an overnight stay or longer - whether you are selfdriving, cycling, walking, take an excursion with a local agency or hire a local guide with car to drive you or with your own campervan.
There are places to stop for a Moroccan tea and refreshments, a meal or stay the night - such as Chez Messoud just past the first village sign of Tiori where we always stop when taking a drive out here - theres an area with tables and chairs nice for sitting in under the almond blossoms or in the heat of summer - and theres toilets here that are Moroccan squat style but have always been clean.
There are several villages throughout the gorge - a couple have clear signs and these make interesting visits - there are pathways up around these villages which give great views of the gorge and make interesting visits to see local life along these hillsides.
At Tiorri theres an official guide called Mustafa - you will either be lucky enough to have him approach you and offer his services or if you run into anyone around the village you could ask for him and they should be able to contact him for you if you are wanting some local input - he speaks Arabic of course, French and berber but doesnt speak english though...but try gesturing and smiling and you will get on okay!
Just in a km or 2 from the entrance into the gorge is a large parking area under trees - its actually a camping or campervan camping area - many campervans do come and park here through the spring and early summer. there are a number of areas where you can park your car and a good idea to make the most of the atmosphere and taking in all the scenery that you can otherwise lose when sitting in a car with restricted views would be to park and walk - walking the full length of the gorge and back again would make a great day out.
4 storey traditionelle house that was lived in by the same family for about 400 years until about 5 years ago - though recently commnced turning the house into overnight accommodation for tourist guests to hopefully be ready during 2012.....
this is in an excellent old mainly uninhabited ancient hilltop village amongst huge boulders - some incorporated into the buildings walls -Ive happily roamed around this village and scrambled up rocks for a few hours each time getting photos of the fascinating architecture, shapes and designs and colours
- with great views over the valley and other ancient fortified multi storey houses below.
Recently restored and still undergoing restoration this is an excellent insight into traditionelle Berber living through the various levels of the house - where the animals were kept, where and how food supplies were stored to last through the seasons....to the fantastic views from the roof!
Open during hours of daylight and well worth the visit - and support a local family while doing so
Address: Tazekka, Tafraout
Directions: take road below Hotel Amandier, a few mins by car from centre of Tafraoute, 10-15 mins by foot, near Camping Tazka - pop in for directions if unsure - or take route 104 to Tiznit & park where you see campers parkd on left before Aday village & walk thru
Not only a picturesque area with its pink rocks and buildings, and prolific almond blossoms to be seen all around the area during the month of February along with its famed Almond Blossom Festival, the area of the Ameln Valley, Jebel El Kest, is fast becoming a centre for avid rock-climbers....and craggers! (see what that means if you dont already know! in the website).
Steven Broadbent from the Oxford Alpine Club is responsible for a well received guidebook outlying discovered routes for climbs and all the information required for the sport - which can be purchased via the website provided below for Climb-Tafraoute.
they tend to recommend Les Amandiers, the big 4 star hotel on the hill as they give a discount for climbers and have culminated as a centre or base for climbing...though I have stayed there myself and wuold only regard it as a 3 star and as for a place to stay would recommmend better value in the town....a good place to eat though with great views and pool while you are up there!
Other Contact: www.oxfordalpineclub.co.uk
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