Agadir and the South

South of the High Atlas, the landscapes are worthy of some yet-to-be-made Moroccan road movie. The scenery of the Anti-Atlas is like a geography text book, with the mountains' inner workings dissected and laid bare; here you feel how the land rose and folded. The Saharan coast is flatter and bleaker, but it has an austere magnificence, too.

Though burgeoning ocean-side Agadir - Morocco's first package holiday resort - may be your first point of call, you can soon escape north to the surf beaches around Taghazoute or to the more remote interior. Inland from Agadir, in the agricultural Souss Valley, lies walled Taroudant, often compared to Marrakech. From here you can travel up into the Jbel Siroua, or down across wild hills via Igherm to Tata, an ideal base from which to reach south, to the prehistoric rock art sites at Akka and Oum el Aleg, or east to Tissint. Moving west, there are fortified granaries at Amtoudi and in the great rock amphitheatre of Tafraoute, an excellent centre for climbing, walking and trips to nearby canyons. On the coast, the surf fraternity meets up in the one-time Spanish enclave of Sidi Ifni, and nearby, the hipsters of Mirleft are hard at work turning a one-horse town into a celebration of Moroccan cool. Further south still, sports fishing is on offer at remote Dakhla, the last stop before the border with Mauritania.

Though bumpy tracks are giving way to tarmac, Morocco's southern provinces are little visited by the general tourist. This may change, though, as new concrete tourist zones near Agadir rise out of the dust and even LaĆ¢youne, a former Spanish-garrison in Western Sahara, may get its share of tourists. For the moment, however, the great horizons and mountainscapes are the preserve of more determined visitors.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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