Out of the Beaten Path in Morocco
Morocco is a popular destination for a few reasons, two of them being its unique sceneries and authentic culture. For other reason (like its incredible hospitality) Morocco’s popular tourist attractions are often overwhelmed with visitors from all over the world. In such a touristy environment, the unusual, less popular places become especially attractive. The good news is that these places that are out of the beaten path in Morocco are located along the usual tours but are not included in the usual Moroccan itinerary.
If you rent a car for your tour of Morocco, you will have the freedom to stop wherever you want and to take the time you need to visit each of these places.
The city is situated on the main road from Merzouga to Ouarzazate. I wrote an article about my short stay in hotel Saghro and its incredible views of the town.
It is out of the beaten path in Morocco but also is the most picturesque of all settlements I saw in the country. In the foothills of Atlas Mountains, there are a lot of small and larger towns and villages that are incredibly beautiful with their clay colors and special architecture (ksars). But Tinhrir has a location that gives the visitor opportunity to enjoy its beauty from above.
It is also probably the most beautiful oasis in Morocco. Sitting on the terrace of hotel Saghro, or just walking on the streets of this city, surrounded by poverty, you have the unique chance to immerse in the Morocco’s real life, without the disruption of spoiled by the tourism locals.
The lush palm trees forest that you will see surrounding the city is there thanks to irrigation network that proves once again that Moroccan people are one of the hardest working and the best farmers in the world.
Of all places listed in this article, Todgha Gorge is the most popular among the tourists. You will see buses with tourist groups as well as independent travelers. But this should not stop you from including the place in your itinerary. The gorge is enough monumental to let room for everyone wishing to see its marvels. I loved its red color and pointed shapes. It felt like you enter a magical country from a fairytale.
In the past, this area was very remote and the local people kept their unique culture unchanged. Now they can be seen around the tourists, trying to make some additional money, transporting their goods on small, cute donkeys.
Once the road connecting this remote place with the rest of the world was paved, hotels and restaurant were constructed around. For the more adventurous (than me) there is a possibility for rock climbing and this is why many people come for. If you are one of these courageous climbers, here is an article you will want to read before going to Todgha Gorge: Todra Gorge Climbing FAQ
Khettara, near Tafilalet
Khettara is an ancient system of underground irrigation that was used by the humanity for thousands of years. A similar system was used for irrigation in China by the Uyghur people in Xinjiang Province (it’s name is Karez system).
The pictures show the khettara system near Tafilalet (between Erfoud and Tinhrir) in Morocco. Why did I include this place in the list? Because you don’t have often the chance to see such ancient construction that it was so fundamental to the human’s existence. It is without any doubt the reasons why this region was populated and could grow a unique culture and lifestyle. Without such ian rrigation system (that is spread over 300 km), people couldn’t live in such dry and hostile environment.
The khettara system is a network of channels with minimal slope, kilometres long. We can say that it is like metro and the wells that you see in the pictures are the stations. Now the system is not maintained and not used in the same way as in the past but the nomads still come here to take water from the open wells.
It is safe to walk around in this a little but surrealistic place but you have to be careful. If you, for some reasons such as incurable curiosity, fall in one of these channels, you will never go out. Nobody can hear you and nobody can help you to go back to the surface!
Ksars along the road Ouarzazate – Marrakech
Taking this road is one of the best things you can do in Morocco. The views are gorgeous, the places look wild and the feel of the desert will never leave you even when you drive between the hills of Atlas Mountain.
Along with this road, you will see many ksars. Some of them, like the famous Ait Ben Haddou are very touristy, but others like the small Isli (near Tamedakhte) looks abandoned but are still full of life. If you want to escape the tourist crowds and feel the real Morocco, better stop on the way at places that keep their authentic and simple charm.
The road is not difficult but, as it is passing on the foothills of Atlas Mountains, can be quite challenging. Be aware of the busy traffic and drive carefully.
Tizi N Tichka
Reaching Tizi n Tichka mountain pass can be difficult. It is the highest mountain pass in North Africa and the weather conditions here are unpredictable.
The mountain pass is an important point on the road connecting Ouarzazate with Marrakesh and so it is frequently used. In late December it can be sunny and pleasant (as we experienced personally) but also it is possible to have snow and thus to make the road even more difficult and dangerous than it is normally. Even if it is possible to reach the pass with a normal vehicle, it is advisable to have a 4×4 vehicle because it provides some safety in case you have problems on the road. At the place, there are few souvenirs shops and cafes.
The place is not of big interest but the cold, refreshing mountain air worth your stop for a few minutes. It has, however, historical meaning as you will see from the memorial plaque that acknowledges the merit of French military members that constructed this road in 1936.
Cedar Forest near Azrou
“Hey, babe, how are you doing?”
I couldn’t take my eyes of the beautiful, soft and friendly being in front of me.
This place could be the most favourite of all Morocco if you travel with kids. Here you will find friendly and cute monkeys (Barbary Ape) that are used to people and can be even fed from your hand.
Morocco has a very varied nature. In the north, between Casablanca and Meknes you will find amazing green fields with olive trees and other agricultures. In the south, you will see the red desert. And in the Middle Atlas, at around 1600 m altitude, you will find cedar trees and monkeys.
These fluffy cuties are usually sitting on the branches, eating or grooming their clear fur. It is easy to approach them and make photos or videos.
The best part of every trip is the unexpected and surprising side of it. Take time and go out of the beaten path in Morocco. Be spontaneous and find your secret favourite spots of this magical country!
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