Situated within the Grand Atlas province of Azilal, some 150 km to the north-east of Marrakech, the Cascades d’Ouzoud are more than simple waterfalls.
The journey from Marrakech to the Cascades d’Ouzoud is an experience in itself as the road takes you there via green valleys and the superb gorge of the El Abid River, passing orchards and ageless olive mills along the way to the Berber village of Tanaghmeilt, close by. Seeing the magnetic beauty of this desert region it is easy to understand why much of the area is designated a conservation site by a number of national and local organisations.
First sight of the Cascades d’Ouzoud explains why they are renowned as one of the region’s most photographed sites. Dropping in a series of wide and narrow steps from a height of 110 m, the falls are at their most beautiful during mid-to-late afternoon when the appearance of rainbows makes the scene even more spectacular, the widest of them appearing towards the bottom of the series of cascades.
The Top of the Falls
Refreshingly un-commercialised, with just a few Berber traders selling fresh orange juice and market produce, every section of the falls offers a fascinating spectacle. At the summit you’ll find a dozen or so small mills, the last working examples of the many olive and flour mills believed to have given the site its name, Ouzoud being the Berber term for the act of grinding.
Working your Way to the Bottom
From the top of the falls you can work your way down to the bottom via a shady path through ancient olive trees or you can follow the more difficult, narrow track leading eventually to the Beni Mellal road. The vertical drop from the Wadi El-Abib canyon to the bottom of the falls is only a little under 600 m.
On reaching the bottom of Cascades d’Ouzoud one finds a refreshing pool. Time, perhaps, for an invigorating swim.
Following the path a little further down, you reach a delightful oak spinney with small pomegranate trees where, for those up and about around daybreak, there’s a good chance of spotting wild Barbary apes.
Continuing on from here, one is eventually greeted by a cosy nook often referred to as the old ‘Mexican Village’ where hand-carved wooden fishing boats add to the charm of the place, extra interest being added by a maze of underground passages.