monkey morocco africaIfrane National Park is a superb place in Morocco to enjoy the great outdoors and one of only a few spots where you can meet the Barbary Macaque, the endangered primate. This park is probably the opposite of what a lot of people have in mind when traveling to Morocco.

Located in the Middle Atlas Mountains, Ifrane National Park covers 51,800 hectometers of the largest cedar forests in Morocco and the world as well as rivers, lakes and volcanic plateaus. Visitors to the park will find more than 200 species of birds (including storks, flamingo, ducks and woodpeckers), 30 species of reptiles, Barbary apes, sheep and much more. It was created in 2004 to control hunting and to protect cedar trees and the diminished number of animals in the park. It is located between the towns of Ifrane and Azrou in the West Central Middle Atlas, about 60 kilometers south of the imperial city of Fez.

Ifrane National Park is open with no entrance fee and accessible year-round, seven days a week. You can visit the park during any season of the year with the guarantee to have a great experience. Trails take you into cedar forests, near volcanic plateaus, across green pastures and atop mountains where you can enjoy true peace and quiet.

In winter, snow and the slopes of Michlifen Mountain attract many tourists interested in skiing and other winter sports.

The park also houses many parks, rivers and springs, such as Dayet Aoua, Dayet Hachlaf and Aguelmane Afennourir. You can pack your lunch and go picnicking or fishing for trout or pike. The lakes are crowded in the summer, though, and they suffer from litter and pollution. Unfortunately, many of the lakes in Ifrane National Park are drying up due to drought and the creation of new wells around their basins.

Hunting, mainly for boars and hares, is permitted in the park according to procedures and dates set by the Moroccan Hunting Department. Unfortunately, these are not always respected and one of the major threats to the park is poaching.

If you like to sleep under the stars, then Ifrane National Park is an ideal destination. However, if you are looking for a hotel, the Michlifen Ifrane is not far from the park, or you can choose one of the Berber-style sleeping commodities around Ifrane or Azrou. Also, it is not unusual to be invited into a Berber family’s home for mint tea or dinner.

Written by Ghizlane Gray.

Photo by sedeer.

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