Near Dades Valley, Morocco

Near Dades Valley, Morocco

Traveling from Marrakesh, visitors can easily reach the Dades Valley for a day or multi-day trip. Travelers will need to go through Ourzazate in order to get into the valley, which is located in the heart of the High Atlas Mountains.  The High Atlas Mountains is a forested region with plenty of valleys, gorges, and two of the highest mountain peaks in Morocco: the M’Goun and Jbel (Mount) Toubkal.

While trekking in Morocco, one can summit the country’s highest peaks, but the Dades Valley allows for nice day walks for tourists who don’t want to trek several days up difficult paths.

The Dades Valley is in between the High Atlas Mountains and the Jbel Sarhro range at the south.  The area provides one of the largest oases and several Kasbahs.  In fact a nickname for the region is “Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs” due to the many located throughout the valley.  As one moves through Dades Valley it is possible to reach the Dades Gorge and the Todra Gorges.  The Todra Gorges is the largest of its kind, with a small place to stay in the middle and very cool temperatures at night.

The first place you will find on the journey is Skoura, which is 39 kilometers from Ouarzazate.  This area can be visited in one day.  There are several Kasbahs to walk through, worth a picture or two.  The one most visitors really take a liking to is Kasbah Amerdihl, which is owned by the Nasser Family.  There is also the Ait Ben Moro.

Most of the Dades Valley include day treks where you simply walk around the villages and towns of the area, through the palm oasis and back again. You’ll meet all kinds of farmers, Berber families and kids running amok. There are no difficult trails. Travel through Morocco in this manner allows for you to soak up the culture of the area as well as see the mountains around you.  The forest is alive with greenery presenting a beautiful landscape for photos especially with the Kasbahs as the backdrop.

The El Kelaa M’Gouna is another 50 kilometers into the valley.  Mgoun trekking is becoming more popular as the summit is only 100 meters shy of Toubkal, with a quarter of the throngs. The town is known for its rose water products.  It is possible to trek through the Vallees des Roses on a loop.

It is an easy trek and one filled with magnificent flowers.  The trek will take a few additional days, howeveer. The mountain is over 4000 meters in height therefore the High Atlas Trekking tour requires at least three days to hike up the mountain and back down. There is a need to get acclimated overnight by stopping at a local Berber village before heading up to the summit for some.

From the summit it is possible to see Dades Valley and the verdant forests surrounding it.  Also something that makes this area a bit different is the red earth.  It is possible to see the red clay peeking out from the forests.  The Dades Valley presents waterways to walk by and taking a lunch will afford a scenic picnic.

by Sam Mitchell