"FIGUIG OASIS" Figuig by TheLongTone
Figuig Travel Guide: 9 reviews and 15 photos
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.
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:Extraordinary and tranquil
- Cons:A long way from anywhere else
- In a nutshell:Unique. Go there.
The border with Algeria is closed: and although it's the subject of a treaty agreed in 1972, there are still issues and... more travel advice
Figuig is not a shoppers paradise. The shops that line the main street sell all the basics (including film) but choice... more travel advice
Written Nov 11, 2006
Through the palmeries
Written Jan 15, 2010
Ksar, plural Ksour
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