Ouirgane is a Berber village situated in the Atlas Mountains. It sits 1500 meters above the sea, at the heart of the Toubkal National Park and is only one hour south of the red city, Marrakesh. It is a typical Berber village. A local market or souq gathers the villagers every Thursday and plays an important role in the village’s social fabric. Donkeys are used as the main means of transportation. The village inhabitants are as welcoming as the natural environment surrounding them.
Due to its proximity to Marrakesh, Taroudant, and on the road from Tahanaoute the inviting red earth hills and oak pine forests, Ouirgane has become a famous hikers’ destination. If you are tired of the crowded city of Marrakesh and enjoy walking through olive groves or mountain biking, this is the ideal escape.
The arid landscape in Ouirgane has become more verdant since the completion of a dam in the village. Lalla Takerskout Lake has formed as a result of that, adding more beauty to the area. Water sports such as jet skiing, swimming and kayaking, can be practiced in the lake or at the Nfis River. For those who like bird life, Ouirgane is a perfect place to relax and watch the wide variety of birds fly over the area: Storks, cuckoos, nightingales, bulbuls, and others are all frequently sighted.
Coming from Marrakesh, it is better to take the southwest road headed south to Amizmiz, through the Tizntst mountain pass then east to Ouirgane. This route goes all the way to Taroudant and is often referred to as one of Africa’s finest drives. Both buses and taxis go to Ouirgane on a daily basis.
The best time to visit Ouirgane is late spring or early autumn, both lasting about two months or less, from March to April and from September to October. Winters are mild but roads are in their worst state because of the rain and flooding. Summers in Ouirgane are cooler than Marrakesh but still can be quite hot and crowded with tourists.
There are many accommodations to choose from during your visit to the village. There are small lodges as well as luxurious guesthouses with swimming pools, spas and more. Local guides can be hired through the hotel. They can enhance a visit by leading a daily hike to Toubkal Mountain or nearby villages with added commentary and information about the area. One superb and off-the-beaten path location to visit is the Tin Mal Mosque farther along the Nfiss Valley. Hiring a driver to take you there through your hotel is one option; our team often recommends a visit as a part of your trip with our small company.
Written by Ghizlane Gray.
Photo by Abdallah.