An adventure to the Ouzoud Waterfalls begins at the Hotel Ali in Marrakesh.
Almost every foreign visitor to Marrakesh will end up at the Hotel Ali. It is where you book absurdly cheap multi-day treks down the “Road of a Thousand Kasbahs,” through the Todgha Gorge, and into the Sahara Desert.
Yes, you should go on that adventure first.
But on the last day of my dalliance to Marrakesh, for $10, I was transported a hundred miles through the High Atlas Mountains to the Berber village of Tanaghmeilt, fed a rooftop lunch of kebab and fries while overlooking the Grand Atlas, and then hiked to the Ouzoud Waterfalls.
Besides the Ouzoud Waterfalls, this region of Morocco is mostly associated with its local mills. “Ouzoud” is Berber for “grinding grain.”
I explored some of the bucolic mills as I ambled through a canyon, a network of mountainside paths adorned with olive trees, and rustic wooden-bridges over the El Abid River which tumbles into the Falls.
I was traveling with two English friends and we were among the only foreigners to venture this far into rural Morocco. Local children and Moroccan urbanite day-trippers cascaded the sundry tiers of mountain into an oasis created by the falls.
The children would perilously reascend part of the mountain, cling to a jumble of cliff, and then–let go. Others dived from natural platforms eroded into the rock.
I mistakenly told my companions that I wanted to jump into the oasis and they teased me until I did.
In a pathetic demonstration of my non-existent athletic ability, it took me twenty minutes to pull myself back onto the jagged shore. Everyone was too busy laughing and taking pictures to help.
I do not blame them.
Obviously a traveler should first venture into the Sahara Desert before visiting the Falls, but this journey is one of the most memorable day trips Marrakesh has on offer.
Fly directly to Marrakesh or take a scandalously cheap bus ride from any other major Moroccan city. If you’re backpacking in Europe, you can take a ferry from Algeciras, Spain to Tangier, Morocco. Tangier itself is a nightmare which is why buses to Fez and Marrakesh run directly from the pier. Once in Marrakesh, negotiate hard with taxi drivers to pay the appropriate price. When I went, $1 got you anywhere, but today a ride from the airport will cost $20 by day and $40 by night. Once you’re at the Jemaa El Fna $5 is sufficient to get you anywhere in the medina. Located on the Jemaa El Fna, the Hotel Ali will book you a trip pretty much anywhere you want to go at the most reasonable conceivable price. My three-day desert excursion cost $45 and included everything. The day trip to the Falls set me back $10. Presumably prices have gone up.
While in Morocco, negotiate all prices as aggressively as you would negotiate a hostage release.
Please share your favorite Marrakesh day trips in the comment section below.