Tafraoute and Amlen Valley
In the southern part of Morocco, eighty-nine miles (143 km) from the south east of Agadir and concealed among the Anti-Atlas Mountains, lays the tiny treasure of Tafraoute. The drive there from Agadir offers spectacular views of old, Berber villages and nature sights; including the natural, rock formations of the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Also, Amlen valley is well-known for both its Almond and Argan trees.
Wednesday is market day in Tafraoute and the town is often packed with both merchants attempting to sell their fresh goods and locals from the surrounding villages trying to buy their weekly items. The local merchants tend to increase their prices due to the influx of visitors from Europe and other Moroccan cities. Therefore, the best time to visit is in spring (March-May), when the almond and argan trees are blossoming and the natural beauty is breath taking.
Most residents of the Tafraoute region are successful business owners. Most of these residents had migrated to Europe, North America, and other big Moroccan cities earlier in their lives to search for more opportunities. Many of them still maintain their homes in Tafraoute as a summer getaway. Tafraoute for Berbers is like Newport, Rhode Island for New Yorkers. During the summer, European license plates out number Moroccan places on the roads.
Things to Do Around Tafraoute
- Discover the authentic smell and taste of Argan oil which is extracted and produced locally.
- Try a new flavor of Amlou. Amlou is a mixture of almonds, olive oil, Argan oil, and local natural ingredients. It is usually served for breakfast or eaten as a snack with bread at different time of day. The closest equivalent is peanut butter from the United States.
- Frolicking goats can be spotted throughout the region when driving towards Tafraoute from the surrounding, Berber villages.
- Shop for wood work, leather, or silver bracelets and earrings at a much cheaper price than in Agadir or Marrakesh; especially on Wednesdays, the market day.
- Go for a drive or cycle around Amlen Valley. Do not leave out the Berber villages of Oumesnat, Emintizket, and Sidi Abdeljebbar. These villages are surrounded by palm trees, and Argan and Almond orchards. During almond season, the locals usually hand out freshly picked almonds to visitors for free.
- Visit the “Blue Rocks”: These giant rocks are also known as "Les Roches Bleues". Both firefighters and the French artist, Jean Verame, painted these rocks blue in 1984 (they also reproduced the same work in Texas), When driving or biking, take the Ezerbi road from Tafraoute and the sign “Painted rocks” should be on the right side . The rocks are amazing. They can also be seen driving from Tiznit towards Tafraoute.
- On the road to Blue rocks, make sure to stop and see the Chapeau de Napoleon; a rock in the shape of a tri-corner hat.
- The surrounding mountains offer great opportunities for hiking, biking, trekking, or running. Jebel Kest is the highest peak in the region. The road from Tiznit to Tafraoute offers really good terrain for cycling. There are many cyclers on the road heading to Tafraoute.
- La Tete du Lion: “The Lion Head” is located on top of a boulder in Tafraoute Valley Mountain. It has been shaped into the form of a lion by the natural weathering of the area (see picture)
- Ait Mansour Gorge: Ait Mansour is located at the heart of the Anti-Atlas Mountain and about 18 miles (30km) from Tafraoute. The gorge is considered one of the best oases in Morocco and is known for its palm trees and great hiking spots. The area offers a spectacular view of the Anti-Atlas Mountains, quaint, Berber towns, and great driving scenery. Ait Mansour forms a large, circular road from Tafraoute. It may be reached by either car or mountain bike. Ait Mansour is a great place for families to spend a day basking in the natural beauty. Families can also enjoy swimming, hiking, walking, and biking. Camping is also allowed in the gorge.
- In Omensnat, the “La Maison Traditionelle” Museum displays traditional, Berber household items.
- The Almond Blossom Festival is held annually in the second week of February. This is a great time of year to experience the beauty of the region when the almond trees are blossoming. Ahouach, Berber music, and dance are performed live each night. It is also a good time to experience Berber cuisine, buy cheap items, and discover Berber culture.
- The Tafraoute Summer Music Festival is held in August. The three day event attracts local bands, musicians, and artists from all over Morocco. All the venues are free and open to the public. It is a wonderful way to learn about local, Moroccan culture and traditions.
Where to Stay
Les Amandiers Hotel:
It is worth staying at Les Amandiers Hotel in Trafraout
. The hotel itself is situated on top of a hill which overlooks Tafraoute and surrounding mountains. The hotel also boasts a pool; a great way to cool off in the months of June through August when temperatures hit the 90s.
Tel: 00 212 05 28 80 00 08
The Lion Head
Amlen Valley Tafaroute