Mount Zalagh in Morocco: Tranquility among the Olive Groves

morocco olive treeMount Zalagh looms high over Fez, looking down on the crowded city and its narrow, winding alleys. A world away from the hustle and bustle of one of the most densely populated areas in Morocco, Mount Zalagh, covered with olive groves and scented by wild lavender, offers a view of the entire city and the surrounding landscapes—the Sebou Valley, Rif Mountains and Sais Plain. In the winter, expect snow, but in the summer, the elevation provides the ideal temperature for an escape from the heat and the perfect spot for a picnic. Despite its proximity to the city, it is never crowded, much to the delight of mountain bikers and hikers alike.

Reaching Zalagh’s summit is easy enough for even inexperienced hikers and takes no more than an hour or two, even at a leisurely pace. To reach the mountain, take a grand taxi (taxi kabir in Arabic) from the Bab Guissa, a 12th-century city gate located in the north of the medina. You can usually count on finding a taxi queue in front of the Sofitel Palais Jamaï nearby. Ask the driver to take you to the base of the Mount Zalagh or, in Arabic, Jbel Zalagh (JE-bal ZA-lagh), along Ouezzane Road, which is to the left after leaving the Palais Jamaï and leads to the southern base of the mountain. You reach a small pine forest, from which you can find the trailhead. As always when taking a grand taxi, agree on a price beforehand. The trip should normally cost no more than 7 or 8 Dh, so make sure to bargain. (more…)