Marrakech - Day Three - Ourika Valley written 9 years ago

Rickety Bridge

We had used our finest pigeon English to arrange a tour up to the Ourika Valley with the hotel, and on time our Grand Taxi driver appeared at our hotel door. In a weird gangster film stylee it turned out our driver had paid a young boy to look after his wheels whilst he was fetching us from the hotel. We were inserted into the taxi, and begun our journey out of the City towards the mountains.

About half way through the hour long journey our taximan pulled into a layby next to a house - he had brought us to one of his acquaintances houses that had a terrace offering magnificent views across the valley.

1Distant Mountains 2View from the Terrace 3Hills
1. Distant Mountains; SJW 2. View from the Terrace; RDI 3. Hills. SJW
4Sarah and Rob
4. Sarah and Rob Moroccan Style!

Anticipating the open hand of our host, I prepared a token amount of money to give to the approaching owner. He was most taken aback by my offer of money, and instead of accepting the cash; equipped our heads with rather fetching blue head scarves, and offered to buy Sarah for 10,000 camels.

5Sarah and the man
5. “Fatimah” and her new Husband

After politely refusing the man’s offer (he was joking anyway..), the true reason for his hospitality was revealed as he lead us to the inevitable shop of trinkets. The shame is he might have gotten some business out of us if he hadn’t been so overbearing - or if anything had some indication of how much it might cost!

We dived back into the taxi, and went on to the next destination, passing numerous other opportunistic sellers at the side of the road. We were careful not to show too much interest, lest the taxi driver might stop and have us buy something…

Rob in the Taxi
Rob in the
fantastically
decorated taxi

Our taxi driver was very accommodating, and whenever he saw us itching to look out the window, or busy taking blurry photos he would pull over and allow us to roam around and take pictures in the fresh air. We were only lightly molested by the locals wanting to flog some necklaces.

Sarah

Our next stop on the tour would be an Argaan Oil production house, and we were guided through and taught how the ladies use argaan tree nuts and process them to produce the two varieties of Argon oil - one for use in cooking, and the other as a cosmetic product. The inevitable sales pitch came, and this time the lady allowed us to sample her wares - but unusually allowed us to peruse the shop unmolested. The articles on the shelves even had prices on! With this wild recollection of home, and simpler ways Sarah made a purchase and we continued on to our next stop.

6Argon oil Lady
6. Argaan oil Lady, breaking Argaan tree nuts by hand.RDI

Our next stop was an impromptu photo opportunity:

7Meandering River
7. Roadside View SJW

Setti Fatma

Our eventual destination arrived, and with the driver’s foot reaching the brake peddle we had a random tour guide poking his head into the car. After wowing us with his credentials as being an advisor for the rough guide, and negotiating a price around half of what he originally wanted, we had gotten ourselves a shepherd to guide us up to the Waterfalls.

The Ourika valley is famous for it’s Seven Waterfalls, and our guide had promised to show us the first, the rest needing proper climbing skillz to reach.

8Setti Fatma
8. Setti Fatma RDI

The guidebook suggested that the waterfalls could easily be reached without the need of a guide, but I’m not sure what kind of mountain goats they assume the average Moroccan tourists are. We set off and were immediately confronted by a bridge of much ricketyness, and I’m sure without a blokie there to drag us across we might have turned back.

9Rickety Bridge
9. Rickety Bridge. SJW

The bridges in the area aren’t fixed down — floods occasionally come down the river and wash away anything not firmly secured (and nothing about these bridges can be described as “firm”). So to prevent the bridges and other river furniture washing away it is all removable and is stored elsewhere overnight.

We especially enjoyed crossing these bridges.

10The Village
10. Setti Fatma village view from the other side of the river. SJW

Climbing up the mount-hills was a fun experience. A narrow path led us up the hillside, past numerous small moroccan style cafes, with Tagines broiling on the side. Our guide explained that the general theme of these establishments was to come spend the day there sitting on a pretty rug, you could even bring your own food and just pay the owner for use of the facilities.

11Sarah being Lead across the bridge 12Tagines a' cookin' 13Refrigerator
11. Another bridge of Rickety; RDI 12. Tagines a Cookin’;SJW
13. Moroccan Fridge. RDI

What did impress me was the novelty drink coolers that were a feature of all of the rest-points. These would use the flowing (cold) meltwater from the mountain tops to cool bottled drinks by allowing it to trickle over them. There would also be spinning things that would draw in the magpie instincts of any passing Rob.

Waterfalls

14Waterfall #1
14. Waterfall #1 RDI

We arrived at the first waterfall, which although pretty, was a little underwhelming. Still good for a photo opportunity though. It is amazing how all these Moroccans are quite handy with the ol’ digicam.

15Rob and Sarah
15. Rob and Sarah at the first Waterfall.

At this point our guide exclaims that the second waterfall is just a short distance away, and he couldn’t bear not to show us, so agrees to take us for no extra charge.

A few hops, skips, skids, slips and much hoiking by the guide later we had arrived at the 2nd Waterfall. A much more impressive display. Out came the gorillapod for some pictures:

16Waterfall
16. The Second Waterfall. RDI

After the waterfalls, our guide took us an alternate route back down. Sensing our hunger, he found us his favourite (or his cousins..) restaurant and asked us where we would like to sit. “Near the river”. He then found us a table inches from the waters edge, and extended his palm.

17Tambourine Man 18Rob and the Tangine
17. We were serenaded whilst we ate our lunch. RDI 18. Rob meets his Tagine. SJW

After a tasty lunch and a fanta (with extra gout!), we peed in some god-awful toilets, and jumped back into the taxi to begin our journey back home.

19The River Meanders
19.The Meandering River.SJW

Want more Photos? Search for marrakech2008 and day3 on flickr.

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