Azilal High Atlas

The N8 Marrakech to Fès road runs northeast out of the Red City through flat countryside to El Kelaâ des Sraghna, and thence eastwards to Beni Mellal, a large town of growing regional importance for both its rich irrigated areas on the Tadla Plain and the High Atlas to the south. The focus of this mountainous hinterland is Azilal, which gives access to the high valley of the Aït Bougmez, an area increasingly popular with walkers. The landscapes are beautiful and accommodation is possible in village gîtes. Between Marrakech and Azilal, off the S508 road, other attractions include the grotto of Imi-n-Ifri near Demnate and the Cascades d'Ouzoud, Morocco's highest waterfall. North of Beni Mellal, still on the N8 heading for Meknès is Kasbah Tadla.

Well watered like the High Atlas of Toubkal, the High Atlas south of Azilal has a very different character, perhaps because of the inaccessibility of its hidden valleys. The people here are Tamazight speaking, and more limited contact with mainstream Morocco makes them more conservative. Formal education has had little impact here and it was only in the late 1990s that roads began to replace some of the 4WD tracks. Much of the region's charm comes from the architecture of the villages, as yet unspoiled by the concrete constructions which have disfigured so many of the villages in the High Atlas of Toubkal.

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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