Located 30 kilometers south of Marrakech, Ourika Valley is part of the Moroccan High Atlas and is one of the most visited sites of the High Atlas. The Ourika Valley is most accessible from Marrakech, and as such it has a few hotel complexes. Tourists flock there precisely because of its very preserved nature and mountain lifestyle, as well as the many small Berber and Chleuh villages scattered throughout the valley.
Are you interested in visiting the Ourika Valley Marrakech for a one or two-day excursion in a desert landscape? We explain everything you need to know in this article: its history, things to see and do, schedules, access and prices!
The origin of the name Ourika comes from Urika, which is the name of one of the Masmuda tribes, belonging to an Amazigh group, itself a descendant of the Almohad dynasty. The valley is therefore historically populated by Berbers, and the local population speaks a dialect called Chleuh.
On the outskirts of Marrakech stands a natural rock barrier, called "the roof of Morocco" or "the roof of North Africa": The Western High Atlas. The High Atlas, the highest massif in the country, stretches 750 kilometers from southwest to northeast. It delimits Saharan Morocco from Atlantic and Mediterranean Morocco, and culminates at an altitude of 4,167 meters. On the foothills of this imposing massif is a major tourist attraction for the surroundings of Marrakech: the Ourika Valley. Running along the foothills of the High Atlas, the valley stretches 68 kilometres from Marrakech to the village of Setti Fatma, at an altitude of 1500 meters. The Ourika is the name given to the river that flows from the slopes of the High Atlas, and is a tributary of the Oued Tensift.
The Ourika Valley is, by its milder climate in comparison to Marrakech, a vast area of agricultural crops, and is surrounded by a lush vegetation of agricultural fields and olive trees, orchards, almond trees, cherry trees and other green plants. Nature is especially abundant when the rainy season gives way to summer: the bright red earth illuminates the landscape and the villages, while the air becomes more breathable as one climbs higher (15° C to 20° C less than in Marrakech).
What to do when you come to visit the Ourika Valley? Well, walks, hikes and more walks! But not only that.
By taking a road-trip on the winding roads to visit the Ourika valley waterfalls, you will enter almost deserted villages, climbing up to 2,100 meters in altitude (at Tizi-n-Test) and discovering the authenticity of Berber rural life.
Alas, this is less a mirror of traditional social life than a tourist representation of this picturesque Berber life. In any case, you will surely enjoy a good mint tea with the locals!
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