Piste Berber trip in 4x4

Ourika Valley Travel Blog

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Piste 4x4
We booked a trip to the Ourika Valley in a 4x4 with the hotel.  We thought we would be lucky enough to get the whole 4x4 to ourselves but were were joined by a French couple from another hotel.  We headed off towards the snow capped mountains leaving the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh behind.  The route took us past vast areas of empty red soiled land with half built projects abandoned.  The roads wide and empty with the view of the Grand Atlas ahead of us.  As we start to head out further the roads start to become narrow and roads start to ascend up onto higher ground.  After half an hr of uninterrupted driving we reach an isolated peaceful lake.  There are a couple of pedal boats tied up, which are for rental, for taking trips across to the other side of the lake.
Fresh green scenery towards the mountain
  We don't see any people at all until two street vendors pop out of nowhere and start trying to sell us goods.  The have jewellry and crystal rocks on offer.

The 4x4 moves off road onto a dirt track leading up to a hilly area.  We take in the crisp fresh and and listen to the silence that surrounds us.  We see the clear path of newly built roads, all the hills and natural curves of the region and can even make out a few tiny houses scattered about in the village.  We can see the yellow and purple flowers growing out of the grassy field that we stand on and the Grand Atlas in the backdrop of this peaceful setting.  

As we head up further into the mountains we start to see Berber villages and Berber people.
Berber market
  We encounter a flock of sheep and a herd of cows.  The shepherd dressed in a woollen trench coat that was about three sizes too large for him.  Was making a good effort to keep his flock in check.  The next stop we make is near a couple of village houses.  We take a breather and take a few shots of the scenery.  From one of the two houses a few kids start to curiously make their way over to us.  A toddler girl about two or three years old comes woddling over to us dressed in a bright green dress and heavy wellington boots.  She seems to be carrying a clay pot of some sort and has bright red cheeks.  Another baby is peaking from the window, while other other older kids approach Otu and start trying to beg a few coins off us.
Setti Fatma, Ourika Valley


We continue the journey and start to encounter very windy scary roads.  The roads start to get steeper and tighter and the road is barely visible as you try to turn the corner hanging on to the cliff edge.  We see lots of trucks fully loaded with goods and people, some hanging on the roof.  They all look like they are heading to the market, which is where we plan to make our next stop.  The truck looking unstable and wobbly bravely trudges along using all its might!

The Berber market is chock a block busy.  Full of donkey carts, cars, people and stalls all surrounded by a heavy air of petrol fragrance hanging in the air.  We are given a whole 20 mins of free time to roam around and purchase some goods.  The smell is foul and the ground is a big mud swamp.
Waterfalls
  We have eyes locked on us a we walk around.  There a food stalls, clothes stalls, haridressers, barbers and other brick and brack stalls.  We spot an old man making fried dough bread, which we bought one for 1DHS.  No talking necessary, we point at the bread, gesture one, he ties it up for us and puts his hand out.  We pay him 5DHS and he returns 4DHS.  No haggling and no hassle for once.  We to to buy some nuts, this approach is a little different, we show him 3DHS and he weighs the nuts and bags it for us and we exchange hands.  Next stop bananas, this kid speaks english and is very well aware that he can swindle us, which of course he tries to do.  He we pick up two bananas and he tries to sell them to us for 5DHS.
Local Berber kids
  We shake our heads and give him two, he accepts it as he probably knows that the price is already over charged.  20 mins up and we make our way back to the car and wait for the driver to return.  A jewellery vendor approaches us and tries so hard to sell us some silver bangles, his perseverance is applaudable and he doesn't give up until the the French guy gives in the buys a bunch of stuff from him.

I'm ready for lunch so I'm hoping the next stop is for some real food.  We are now pretty high up into the mountains where we can see out the window vast areas covered in snow.  The gentle lulling of the car sends me into a dreamy sleep.  We I awake we are entering the Setti Fatma village, in the Ourika valley.  We stop at Le Kasbah de l'Ourika for lunch.  First course, moroccan salad, main course lemon chicken tagine and dessert oranges, moroccan buscuits and mint tea.  We thought this was a set meal but as we looked around we could see that other tour groups were getting a variety of other dishes.  Then we realised that the waiters hadn't bothered to ask us our preference because they didn't speak any English and we didn't speak enough French for them to want to communicate with us.  I did feel a little segregated from the crowd but I didn't let that ruin the experience. 

Following lunch we head further along the Ourika valley along the river side and heading up higher closer to the mountains.  It is a vast valley area with plenty of waterfalls that guides are willing to take you on a walking tour.  Over the otherside of the river there are plenty of cafes set up for business.  The bridges are made of wooden planks and rocks.  These are fairly scary as you can see and hear the rapid river rushing on underneath you.  The gaps in the planks few very unstable and it is a bit of a squeeze having two people standing width ways.  I did not feel safe at all and I'm pretty sure it was wobbling and vibrating as people where all walking across it at the same time.  It was a saturday so the whole valley was filled with people taking day trips from Marrakesh and also lots of tourists.  The journey back was much shorter we got back to Marrakesh madness within an hr and a half.  
 
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Piste 4x4
Piste 4x4
Fresh green scenery towards the mo…
Fresh green scenery towards the m…
Berber market
Berber market
Setti Fatma, Ourika Valley
Setti Fatma, Ourika Valley
Waterfalls
Waterfalls
Local Berber kids
Local Berber kids
Ourika Valley
photo by: Baosafari