Lalla Takerkoust Lake, Morocco

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. (more…)

Morocco’s Agafay Desert

desert in MoroccoThe Agafay Desert is located just an hour’s drive from the lively souks and dizzying maze-like market streets of Marrakech. Literally untouched by development, the Agafay offers quite the contrast from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.

Visiting the Agafay Desert is a good option if you would like to gaze at some sand dunes and desert, but don’t have the time to travel all the way south to where Morocco borders the Western Sahara. In the spring, the Agafay is alive with blooming wildflowers. The rest of the year, the Agafay is parched and thirsting for water giving you just a taste of the aridness of the Great Sahara.

There are currently no train lines south of Marrakech so if you want to travel to the desert you will need to rent a car, catch a bus or take an organized tour. Quite a few tour companies offer multi-day ATV tours of the Agafay hills complete with tent camping and traditional Moroccan meals. These off-the-beaten path type of tours take you across sand dunes, over rocky buttes and through hidden canyons all offering splendid views of the Atlas Mountains in the background. (more…)