afagay desert morocco lakeOn the outskirts of Marrakech lies the Agafay Desert of Morocco. In the 18th century the area was settled by Saharan nomads who planted crops and flowers, changing the arid landscape into blooming fields during the harvest months. In the months when the plants are dormant, the Agafay Desert returns to a parched wilderness, giving travelers an idea of the great Sahara Desert. The Atlas Mountains sit behind the desert and provide water to the enormous manmade Lake Takerkoust, sometimes referred to as Lalla Takerkoust Lake.

At 5,000 hectares and seven kilometers long, the lake was built by the French in the late 1920s as part of a dam and irrigation project to provide electricity and water to Marrakech. The French, of course, insisted that the lake would enhance the area and add to its natural beauty. Today Lalla Takerkoust Lake is an ideal day trip from Marrakech for those who want to get out of the city and admire views of the lake, mountains, and desert, especially for those who don’t have the time or ambition to journey to the Great Sahara.

Beyond the breathtaking views, the lake area offers a plethora of activities, dining, and sleeping accommodations to satisfy adventure and pleasure seekers.

Arrive: There are no train lines south of Marrakech, but a taxi or rental car can get you to the lake in only 30 minutes.

Fish: Perch and black bass are trophies for fisherman.

Explore: Hiking trails, horseback riding and desert treks.

Relax: Kasbah Agafay offers four massage rooms, outdoor foot spas and three treatment baths. Yogis can practice in a breathtaking outdoor yoga room with magnificent views and plenty of shade.

Float: Jet skis and paddle boats are available for rent by the hour or the day.

Eat: Pack a picnic or get a waterside table at La Relais Du Lac which offers three set courses of Morocco’s famous dishes like couscous and tangine for 170dhs.

Camp: Also at Relais Du Lac is the opportunity to spend the night in a Berber tent. You can sleep like a nomad under strips of wool and wood, but with the conveniences of a toilet and shower, and the security of a well-established hotel.

Written by Megan Wood.

Photo by Amaury Henderick.