Taking a day trip to Atlas Mountains from Marrakech, Morocco is recommended and it doesn’t take long to get there. Within an hour of driving from Marrakech we had made it to the Atlas Mountains with a stop at Lake Takerkoust along the way. So you know, the Atlas Mountains stretch roughly 2500km through Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. The highest peak in the Atlas Mountains being Toubkal with an elevation over 4,000m. We did a road trip stopping at Lake Takerkoust, driving through the Asni Valley until we reached the Ourika Valley. There we had a great lunch by the side of the Ourika River where the valley gets its name.
The minivan cost ~$100US (there were 7 of us on this Flexpat trip) for the day trip to Atlas Mountains from Marrakech. This fee was including driver and we set out for the Ourika Valley at the base of the Atlas Mountains. If you want to drive it yourself, there are plenty of deals on rental cars in Marrakech to be had. Marrakech is an interesting city and it’s easy to spend lots of time exploring the endless streets lined with endless shops. That said, getting out of the Marrakech is definitely recommended as well.
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Day Trip to Atlas Mountains from Marrakech
Below is a quick list of stops we made on our day trip to Atlas Mountains from Marrakech.
The stop at Lake Takerkoust was our first of the day. Getting to the lake from the city didn’t take long, maybe 40 minutes or so. Lake Takerkoust is a man made lake but if nobody told you that, you’d never know by looking at it. It was originally created as a way to get fresh drinking water and water to irrigate some fields for agriculture nearby. The construction of Lake Takerkoust started in 1929 and was completed in 1935.
Today it’s a place where people go to relax, unwind and do all sorts of sporting activities or just escape the city. Popular activities include fishing, swimming, wake boarding, hiking, walking, boating, relaxing and much more. We stopped right outside on the way to the Asni Valley at a great view point. This gave us an idea not only what Lake Takerkoust was about but also the developments around it.
Asni is a small town in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and yes, it’s in a valley hence the Asni Valley. It’s about an hour or so drive from Marrakech which makes it the perfect spot for a quick stop on a road trip. You’ll notice the mud brick houses and the first time you see them they’ll be quite fascinating. Beyond that there is not a lot going on in Asni so it’s more of a stopover. We drove through the village and stopped a few times along the way at different view points for nice photos of the valley. You’ll notice the air is crisp and it’s very quiet, a nice change from Marrakech.
The Ourika Valley is situated about 60km or so from Marrakech and in the foothills of High Atlas. The main village is called Ourika and so is the river that runs through it. The Ourika River is quite lively near the village. It’s lined with what appeared to be endless cafes, restaurants and such along the coast. Most of them will serve you mint tea and Tajine, endless Tajine. If you’re going with a guided tour you’ll probably pass most of the character filled spots, sadly. You’ll end up in the village of Ourika and brought to a larger restaurant which also has seating and tables near the river.
The meal there will probably cost you as much as the entire trip and the food wasn’t particularly spectacular. Those small spots along the way would offer a more authentic experience and most certainly better value. A popular thing to see in the village of Ourika is the waterfall but our driver tried to hire us a guide . First, we didn’t want a guide and second, the time constraints made no sense. We had an hour total but it took 25 minutes to walk there and 25 minutes to walk back. Naturally we decided to skip the waterfall and just visit some of the other cafes along the river that we passed.
The day trip to Atlas Mountains from Marrakech, Morocco was a lot of fun. Even more fun for someone who enjoys a good road trip. We saw a real slice of life outside the city, saw some beautiful landscapes and ate some authentic Moroccan food. Once we finished eating, the trip was basically done which was alright. Everyone was so full after lunch that some of us even slept on the way back to Marrakech. Would I recommend you take a day trip like this from Marrakech? Absolutely, it was a delightful day.
I’d like to thank my friends at Flexpat for inviting me on this trip to Marrakech to experience the Flexpat lifestyle. Of course everything I write is my opinion like it always has been and always will be.