As much as I love visiting urban areas during my travels, I always include some quality nature time. One way I did that in Morocco was by indulging in a day trip to a waterfall. While the site was inundated with humans, I still found the visit worth it as there were much less people there than in Marrakech! Read on to see what it was like visiting Ouzoud Waterfalls in Morocco!
A Bit About Ouzoud Waterfalls
Known as Cascades d’Ouzoud in French, this site is a highly popular day trip from Marrakech as it is only about 150km from the city. These falls are 360 feet high (110m) at the highest point, making it the tallest waterfall in North Africa. The word “Ouzoud” apparently is a Berber word that means “the act of grinding grain”.
Getting to Ouzoud Waterfalls
I was picked up at the main square in Marrakech by my day tour group. Joining a day tour was the cheapest way to get to the falls since I was travelling solo – it isn’t my favourite way to do things, but day tours can be useful! While it was a 2.5 hr drive, it wasn’t a boring one both because of fun conversations with a couple of American women, but also because of the landscape. I loved seeing the deep red earth, tall mountains in the distance, gnarled olive trees, workers sitting in a field with a mint tea picnic, and flocks of sheep milling around. Periodically, we passed through small towns where we saw donkey and carts, lots of aimless looking young men, blocky buildings in all shades of pinks and oranges, and a surprising amount of skinned headless animals for sale.
Note – while the roads are very good, they can be twisty. So, if you do get carsick, best pack Gravol or Dramamine or the equivalent. We did pass a tourist bus that had pulled over to allow a man to puke up his guts at the side of the road…
Visiting Ouzoud Waterfalls
Upon arrival, we joined other newly arrived visitors and waited to be assigned a guide. We were split up by language and we ended up with a Moroccan guide whose English was tinged by a British accent. The first stop was a lookout above the falls; it was pretty busy and so took a little bit of effort to get photos sans photobombers. But even after successfully avoiding photobombers, I wasn’t really happy with the pictures I took – I found that the falls had to be photographed from up close in order to get that atmospheric feel. After the lookout, we continued on a paved route, shaded by olive trees, to a traditional Berber house. It was claimed that the house was 700 years old. Nearby, we stopped for the third time: the obligatory Argan Oil demonstration. And of course, we were encouraged to buy things. My pre-trip research had indicated that one could not trust any of these places (i.e. random shops, so-called co-ops) so I did not indulge.
It was at the bottom of the falls where I was finally wowed by Mother Nature. I suggest you take time to wander around the base, if you can, before taking the boat ride that would ferry you right up close to the thundering water. The boat ride cost 20dh and I think it was worth it. For about ten minutes, about we were rowed right up to and around the tumbling water. I found it lovely – tall cliffs made up of red rock and green vegetation, heavy mist refreshing us in the hot sun, and the loud thunder of falling water. It was those few minutes that really made the trip worthwhile.
Note – while you don’t need hiking shoes for this trip, you do need good shoes with grip. Keep the strappy sandals for the city. You will walk more than you think.
What else to see at Ouzoud Waterfalls
There are a myriad of shops and restaurants here. While the food may not be the greatest, if you didn’t bring a packed lunch, the food will keep you from going hangry until you get back to Marrakech. Another thing for which you should look out while at Ouzoud Waterfalls are the rainbows. Keep in mind, though, that some of the lookout points are better than others for rainbow spotting. Try the one close to the restaurants.
The final thing to see at Ouzoud Waterfalls are the monkeys. Yep, there are Barbary apes here. There were even babies! The chance to photograph a beautiful mom and baby pairing was the second highlight of my day, here. What was not a highlight was a male monkey who sat a little further away – him, I ignored as he was just sitting there fondling himself. It was…. weird. And no, I did not take his photo!
So, overall, while Ouzoud Waterfall can be pretty busy and it is a bit far from Marrakech, it is still a good option for a day trip from the city. The falls are lovely and if you’re like me, any chance to see the beauty of Mother Nature is a good thing!
Note: If you’re looking for another day trip from Marrakech, check out my post on Tin Mal Mosque. If you’re looking for one way to spend more time in Moroccan nature, check out my trek journal that included summitting Mount Toubkal.