Marrakech - Located in the Middle Atlas, just a few hours from the imperial city of Marrakech, lies the renowned Ouzoud Waterfalls. Tourists from all over the world are only one of the many groups of people who visit the illustrious site each year.
Marrakech – Located in the Middle Atlas, just a few hours from the imperial city of Marrakech, lies the renowned Ouzoud Waterfalls. Tourists from all over the world are only one of the many groups of people who visit the illustrious site each year.
Students attending university trips, for example, make up a portion of these visitors. A student traveling to the Ouzoud Waterfalls may experience things a bit differently than a foreign tourist would, but rest assured, regardless of your mode of transportation, once you arrive at the falls your journey will be an unforgettable one.
One popular mode of transportation for the journey to Ouzoud is the minibus. On these convenient minivans, you will have a lot of fun if you bring the right people along. The atmosphere is sprinkled with the mystery of old stories, the laughter caused by a round of jokes, and the shuffling of a deck of cards used to pass the time, although with good conversation and company, time flies. Imagine Dragons said it perfectly in their song, “On Top of the World”: “I’ve been waiting to smile, / been holding it in for a while, / take you with me if I can, / been dreaming of this since a child, / I’m on top of the world.” The feeling you will get when journeying to the falls will be similar to the one you may have felt as a child waiting to receive an ice cream cone; it will be impossible to contain your smile.
If you leave Marrakech at 6 am, you should be arriving at your destination at around 11:00 am. At first you will only see mountains, but after a short walk, you will arrive at the top of the cascades. Here, your breath will be taken away. Visitors have ironically described the view as indescribable! You must see it to believe it.
The local people of the area are the Berbers, also known as the Amazigh. Native speakers will have an easier time communicating with them and will find many opportunities to practice the language, although the dialect found in the area, Tamazight, is quite different from the one spoken in other parts of the region because of the geographical division between the Small Atlas and the Middle Atlas. The Amazigh are said to be quite friendly and willing to help out when lost tourists need directions, so don’t be bashful; you may even learn something new or meet someone interesting that may enrich your visit.
Desiring to see things beyond the cascades, many visitors decide to climb down the mountain. There is never a dull moment when visiting the Ouzoud falls; on the way down you will encounter many vendors selling traditional Moroccan goods. These are purchased as souvenirs by tourists from all over the country, Europe, and the rest of the world, as many items can only be found at the falls. Once you reach the bottom of the falls you may, as many visitors do, enjoy the natural resources of the region and taste the “salty-sweet” water. The unique and addicting taste of the cascades is caused by the mixing of water from both the Oum-Rabie River and the Ben-Mellal River. Another popular activity among visitors is sailing. Small river boats are available for rentals, and the captain of the boat will take you for a ride around the waterfalls for a closer look.
Be careful when traveling in groups to the falls, because it is quite easy to lose each other in the crowds of tourists, natives, and general excitement. Some people may opt to turn off their cell phones for a more peaceful experience at the falls, and others may simply lose signal from the elevation. Either way, cell phone service is not a guaranteed attraction while visiting the Ouzoud falls. In fact, you should plan accordingly to have none at all. Make sure to establish a meeting spot with the members of your group to avoid any troubles in case of emergencies. Once you are lost, it may be very difficult to spot your group members.
Another precaution to take when visiting the falls is packing enough water. Although the trek up and down the mountain is beautiful, it is not something many people are accustomed to, and it is very tiring. The sun pierces almost every corner of the falls; the eternal sunshine is both a blessing and a curse for visitors. You will most likely be exhausted by the time you depart from your adventure, so make sure to stay hydrated and rest when needed to avoid getting dizzy or lightheaded. Bringing a lunch or snack such as Tanjiya, a Marrakechi dish, is a great idea, especially to alleviate some of the exhaustion after a long day at the falls. Some visitors also prepare tea, play cards, chat about their day, and even take naps before their departure.
In the occasion that medical assistance is needed during your visit, rest assured that there will be someone willing to lend a helping hand. Visitors commonly suffer from headaches caused by elevation or exhaustion soon after their hike back up the mountain. There is one pharmacy in the area, and it may be difficult for a woman to travel there alone in fear of disrespecting the Amazigh culture, where it is seen as shameful to walk alone with a man. But worry not– the men from the area will offer to obtain the medicine if needed. This is only one example of the selflessness of the local people and their willingness to help those who are visiting their beautiful home. Some lucky visitors have even left the falls with a gift from the locals.
Morocco is a brilliant country filled with treasures like the Ouzoud Waterfalls and its tender people. The falls are only your starting point: there are far more magnificent places beyond the pages of a guide book…the ones you discover yourself.
Edited by Sara Gomez. Photos by Author
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