Today we get a full introduction to this Garden City, we visit the dramatic Almohad Koutoubia Minaret and the lavishly-decorated Saadien Tombs – some dating from the middle 1550’s. We also spend some time in the tranquil Menara Gardens and the Bahia Palace before walking through the labyrinth of narrow alleyways making up the renowned cool, colourful and aromatic Souqs of Marrakech. The Dyers’ Souq being the last to be visited because you emerge into the famous Djemâa el Fna Square (which translates as ‘Assembly of the Dead’), where, until the 19th century, the severed heads of criminals were traditionally displayed! We will see stalls of goods, from fruit to alarm clocks; snake charmers and water sellers; fortune tellers and public scribes; tumblers and nakkachat, women with syringes full of henna, soothsayers and gnaoua musicians.
The Tassa Ouirgane National Park
After breakfast we will start our trek from our hotel with our Moroccan Mountain Guide, heading towards the east through fields of corn and flowers. We will follow the course of the river up and down small hills dotted with red juniper and pass by isolated Berber hamlets until we reach the village where the Berber people have been mining salt using their traditional method that has remained unchanged for centuries. You may observe them riding from one village to another, selling their salt from the back of their donkeys.
Next, we will reach the Azzaden Valley and cross to the other side, where we will walk via a piste that leads us through more fields and orchards of apple, peach, cherry, and apricot, and near the vast forest of Tikhfist. We will arrive at our field picnic spot in the village of lkhmiss, where we can take a break and refresh ourselves. After that, we will continue our trek to appreciate a tremendous panoramic view of the entire valley and the Forestry Station, which protects the area’s horned mountain sheep. We will continue through the woods and have a view of the Toubkal Massif National Park, with its distant range of High Atlas peaks, and go down the slopes to ford the river.
The Oued N'Fis Valley
After breakfast we meet our Mountain Guide in Ouirgane to begin the journey to the Berber village of Asni. From there we drive up to Imlil Village and follow the Ait Mizan valley. Upon arriving at the center of Imlil Village the walk starts up to Targa Imoula. Along the way, enjoy the sights of walnut fields and apple orchards, as well as volcanic rocks. The highest village in the valley, Armed, will be the next stop, followed by a slow trek up to the national Park of Toubkal.
A Ouirgane of Wild Valleys & Plateau
We begin our trek after an early breakfast from our hotel, accompanied by our Moroccan Mountain Guide, heading south along mule tracks beside a long salty stream. After about 90 minutes, we arrive at the village of Marigha Izdern (1205m), then continue on to Imareghan Noufla (1224m), where we encountered ancient stone oil presses still operated in the traditional manner using donkeys or mules for grinding. With the Adrar Takherkhourte (2660m) to our right, we walk for another 45 minutes through fields of maize, seasonal wild flowers, olive tree groves, and occasional Berber hamlet to reach the little village of Tinzert (meaning “nose” in Amazigh, the Berber language), surrounded by mountains.
At Tinzert, we see a centuries-old salt mining industry, with cavernous wells used by local peasants to draw water into large salt flats for evaporation. We may also see women riding from hamlet to hamlet on their donkeys, selling salt or delivering it to the local entrepreneur. Salt has been a valuable currency through the ages, more precious to these people than gold.
Once past Tinzert, we stop for a field picnic near stands of olive, walnut, and almond trees. We then continued for 45 minutes to the top of Tizi ’n’ Tarabaza (1706m), which offers us a magnificent panoramic view of the Marigha and Ouirgan lac. We then made our way back down to the villages of Minsolte and Marigha before returning to the hotel.