The Atlas Mountains-90 degrees on the ground and traces of snow still on the mountaintops.
The Atlas Mountains-90 degrees on the ground and traces of snow still on the mountaintops.

To escape the heat, hustle and bustle of Marrakech, I decided to take a 90 minute drive to the Ourika Valley. This is in the Atlas Mountains which have Africa’s second highest peak (after Mount Kilimanjaro). The drive was nice and the scenery beautiful. Endless greenery, rivers, and mountains with cool breezes,  which is needed after the heat of Marrakech and its surrounding deserts. There are many small villages, primarily composed of Berbers, who were the first inhabitants of the African continent over 10,000 years ago. Many of the older people do not even speak Arabic or French (since they never attended school) and some have never even been to Marrakech. But they are a very proud people, honest, hardworking and great cooks-their tagine (clay pot) cooking is to die for! The mountains provide the raw material (clay) to turn this:



Into this:


The last village in the Ourika Valley is Setti Fatma. The locals take advantage of the beautiful landscape of the Ourika River and its surroundings by setting up rustic riverside restaurants serving delicious tagine.




And many of the local villagers live in other smaller mountain villages and walk down the mountain paths to get to Setti Fatma to trade or sell their crops or to shop. To do this, they must cross this:


To get home:


And no matter how high up the mountain or remote the village is, its central mosque can be seen from far away.



Even the mountain goats were friendly (thank God there was no goat tagine on any of the menus!)


There are even 7 waterfalls (one higher up the mountain than the other) that you can visit. These waterfalls provide the abundant, flowing water of the Ourika River.


The Ourika Valkey and Setti Fatma were one of the best experiences I had in Morroco!







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