"FIGUIG OASIS" Figuig by TheLongTone

Figuig Travel Guide: 9 reviews and 15 photos

200,000 palm trees...

Figuig is an oasis situated well into the sub-sahara in the extreme south-eastern corner of Morocco.

What is labelled 'Figuig' on the map is actually a cluster of fortified villages (Ksour) situated among a palmery of around 200,000 date palms. The road from Bouarfa becomes a street, there's a petrol station and a cheap hotel and the bus stops at the bus station just past the Salon du thè 'La Palmerie'.' A kilometer or so of nondescript shops culminates in a municipal park and the colonial French administrative and military complex before continuing south. A few hundred metres south of the barracks the road descents through a gap in the escarpment which divides the palmerie, and continues through the village of Zenaga to peter out within a kilometer or so as it nears the border with Algeria.

There is little to do in Figuig other than wander around exploring, but since this is fascinating I'd really recommend a visit. It's a very laid back place and as such I believe benefits from a visit long enough to (approximately) slow down to the pace of the place. For me the essential magic of Figuig is that it offers a glimpse of an ancient and sophisticated way of living off the earth under the most marginal of conditions..

One thing I did do in Figuig was quite a lot of drawing. You can see some of the results here


Today the traditional structure of the oasis is in retreat. Firstly the French colonial town was superimposed upon it, a ribbon developement around the road. And surrounding the ksour there is a sprawl of newly-built housing of concrete and the like. Pisé (rammed earth) and mud-brick, the traditional building material of the ksour are both labour-entensive to build in and high-maintenance. Although the ksour themselves are largely intact, their surrounding outer defensive system of walls and watchtowers is falling into ruin. There is a problem with salinisation of the groundwater which sustains the oasis (a result of over-extraction using artesian wells) and in recent years the palm trees have been struck by a fungal blight.

And the closure of the border with Algeria has changed Figuig into a garrisoned backwater (the barracks full of olive-drab djellabba'd soldiers are not just for display): it's a cul-de-sac. In former times it was an important staging-post for caravans, both South across the Sahara and more importantly the haj route east via Cairo to Makka.

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The palmerie is the largest in Morocco, with 200,000 palm trees The tall and graceful palms are the male trees: the date-producing females are the short squat ones. It's a trpical example of '3-layer' oasis agriculture: under the shade ofthe palms wheat is cultivated, along with olives, lemons and pomegranites: there are apparently around 40,000 other trees in the palmeie.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Extraordinary and tranquil
  • Cons:A long way from anywhere else
  • In a nutshell:Unique. Go there.
  • Last visit to Figuig: Jan 2004
  • Intro Updated May 11, 2010
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Reviews (9)

Comments (3)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Oct 29, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    poor Figuig poor me...just had another 5 week stint with plans to get to long awaited Figuig and north to Oujda and Berkane thwarted again...we were going to go in June for the opening of the border at Oujda but neither the opening nor our drive to it went ahead! so your page remains the pin up page for my Morocccan yearnings! (we made a pact that if we didnt go to Figuig we were def going down to Laayoune, Dahkla and Smara...but lo and behold that didnt evenuate either - did have a wonderful 5 weeks though with a couple of posh visits to Riad Hida and Xaluca Boumalne, Imilchil marriage festival, Merzouga for another hang out for 6 days and a visit further down into the sahara than ever before - 17th century Portugeuse outpost and all - the opportunity to boil for a couple of days at Er Rachidia but see how to escape that Berber style under a bridge in the Ziz valley for a day - dates at Haroun and Goulmima and beautiful rain and waterfalls to celebrate returning to the Dades gorge and Msemrir - and a long lounge around Tafraoute and beach down at Lozira plage to catch up with regular Agadarian Norwegians for a few days and fly back from Marrakech - thats the running overwordy commentary again but hope you are well - and where are you off to next? - and now Im off to South America for the first time...Angela is off again to new pastures!)

    • TheLongTone's Profile Photo
      Nov 5, 2012 at 1:29 PM

      I haven't been out of this wretched dark country for four years... a total lack of money. Next on the list was Syria....definately on hold now. All tha badness going down in Homs...selfishly part ofme is ver concerned for the giant waterwheels there....and Aleppo, the suq with19 km of covered alleyways

      You must visit Figuig, it was the first page I wrote for VT, remarkable place screaming to be put on the VT map, so it's sort of the reason I started building pages. And ten yars later it's still the only page on the place: it needs company.

    • angiebabe's Profile Photo
      Nov 5, 2012 at 5:15 PM

      really stuck in the UK for 4 years thats horrible! lol! Im so glad im out since the other day - knowing it was springtime over here in Chile for a conference i was headed for i was so looking forward to getting out of that bleak weather - normally i dont mind it but after lovely weather in Morocco for most of the 5 weeks i was there 2 weeks before heading to Chile its just amazingly lovely to be away! but yes have been aiming for Figuig quite a number of times but the 5 weeks stint was the last opportunity for a while as after 6 weeks in South America will be doing catch up trips to family and friends in NZ and Australia so wont have the chance till sometime between late March to June next year....we shall see. 9 years of Morocco is a pretty good innings. Yes had been hoping to get to Syria by now for a apringtime visit too - very sad for the locals and the world history there but can only hope and pray for the people and the country. all the best

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    May 11, 2010 at 2:04 AM

    Fascinating. Glad I had a look. Marg

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Nov 7, 2007 at 4:13 AM

    fascinating - you really go for those sheltering sky places - nothing to do but climb the minaret and find out what sex the palm trees are

TheLongTone

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