The Ourika valley is 30 km from Marrakech and is one of the best places to visit in Morocco for hiking in the Atlas Mountains and seeing its unique countryside. Getting there by grand taxi of bus or one of the many tourist travel companies is easy. The valley starts at Souk Tnine de l’Ourika leading on to the village of Arhbalou then on to Tazzidfount leading up to the trekking area of Adrar Yagour which has prehistoric rock carvings. trekking further afield ahould be undertaken with a guide,equipment and proper planning.
Trekking is easily arranged in the Ourika Valley, and can be anything from a day’s walk into the foothills to a trek lasting several days. It is unsurpasssed for natural beauty and its terraced hillsides lead off into a world of adventure amongst the local villages of mud bricked walls. There are numerous walking trails weaving their way through the valley.Trekking in the valley can involve a variety of activities including rock climbing, birdwatching and mountain biking which is especially popular on the roads through the forests of the Toubkal Natural Park.
The ruins of the kasbah Dar Caid Ouiriki the origninal house of the Caid of Ourika across the valley from the souk of Tninede l’Ourika at the entrance of the valley beckon as a first trek among the poplar trees and weeping willows and the lush green fields and farms.
There are again numerous expeditions that you can enjoy walking from the Kasbah Bab Ourika, which is amongst the best accommodation in the area from short strolls through villages and aromatic gardens to longer hikes taking in forests and rivers.There are numerous expeditions that you can enjoy walking from the Kasbah Bab Ourika, which is the amongst the best accommodation in the area from short strolls through villages and gardens to longer hikes taking in forests, rivers and waterfalls. During the hot summers in Marrakech the valley is an escape to the cooler environs of the Ourika river andthe surrounding hillsides and mountains. The fields and livestock provide a living for their families and the trekker can experience their daily lives walking alongside donkeys and carts, with little children playing in the fields.
To trek and absorb the imposing majesty of the surrounding mountains Setti Fatma 20 kms upthe valley is the gateway to the mountain ranges. There is an important four day moussem festival in August in Setti Fatma which is a very colourful and lively event with its souks selling traditional fare. Passing by the shrine and the waterfalls you can walk out on the stone tracks amongst the mountains of the High Atlas.The summit of Jebel Toubkal(4,167 metres) the highest peak in North Africa towers above the valley.It is possible to trek to Mount Toubkal via Setti Fatma to Timichi and Oumkaimeden, it takes about 5 hours.The more usual appraoch to Jebel Toubkal is via Asni. Othertreks from Setti Fatma include Adrar Meltzen via Tourcht and the Oued Zat region by the Tizi n’Tilst. There are numerous trekking routes but these are quite arduous and trekkers should be fit and accompnied by a guide.These include the Taska n’Zat-Arjout peaks and the Tizi Tzarzit.
The chance to meet the mountain people in their enchanting rural communities adds to the experience which can be experienced during a day trip from Marrakech.
The ski resort of Oukaimeden is the other main tourism location in the Ourika valley. On a good day the views over the plains surrounding Marrakech can be stunning.The resort has a number of ski slopes and hotels.The period for sking is February to April. There are walking trails from Oumkaimeden but these should only be attempted during the summer season because of snowfalls in winter. The three hour trek to Tachddirt is relatively easy. The world of the mountainpeople and their villages is a complete contrast to the life of the cites and villages of the plains.