here, there, everywhere

African Waterfalls

In Africa, Morocco on September 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Ourika Valley Waterfalls

Setti Fatma Waterfalls, Ourika Valley, Morocco

Off for an excursion to escape the city for a day.  I decided on the waterfalls in the Ourika Valley – if 38 degrees in the city was becoming difficult I couldn’t imagine a 3 hour trip to the desert to be roasted in even hotter temperatures.

The day started when the tour operator picked me up at the hostel with his moped.  We zipped through the narrow alleys to meet the other members of the group at a central bus station.  The air-conditioned (hallelujah) bus was waiting for us and we soon headed off to pick up our guide in a Berber village about a half hour drive outside the city.  We spent a half hour in the village being hassled by men selling trinkets when we weren’t in a Berber house enjoying bread, local honey, and by local I mean 10 feet away, and mint tea.  Having just celebrated my birthday I was feeling old and off my game until one of the men from the village offered 150 camels for my hand in marriage.  My record before this was 25 so either currency is cheaper in Morocco or I’ve aged like fine wine.  Regardless, I had to decline as I’d paid for the rest of my trip and was off to see the waterfalls.

We then went to check out an argon oil factory and yes, it is taxing work for the men and women who make the stuff.  It left me feeling only slightly better than watching Cubans roll cigars by hand for $1/day.  I managed to talk to Malika, one of the girls who works there, and she is hoping to go to university to study engineering.  Best wishes and all the luck to her, she’s bright and deserves a different future.

Finally we made our way into the little village and the trail head for the walk to the falls.  Of course it was hot there as well and it was a wonderful thing to see restaurant tables parked squarely in the middle of the river so patrons could use the opportunity to cool down by sticking their feet in the current while eating.  We lost one group member on the way up, apparently she had eaten bad fish the night before and had to call it quits less than a quarter of the way.  Some of the shopkeepers graciously offered to take care of her while we finished the trip and provided a makeshift bed in the shade behind the shops.  We then proceeded to go up the path to find the first of seven waterfalls.  It wasn’t the trickiest climb but in flip flops it just got dangerously stupid.  Fortunately our Berber guide was like a mountain goat and hopped and skipped ahead of us to give a hand to help us up and over the boulders.  About 20 minutes later we made it to the first waterfall and stopped for about a half hour to people watch and enjoy the cool spray.  Personally I’m glad we didn’t go any farther – we watched the young boys who did go up over our heads attempt to come back down without cracking their skulls open.  One missed his footing and came shooting down but fortunately there were no injuries.

The trek back was more precarious than the one up due to the inappropriate footwear but the Berber mountain goat shot past us on the way down to once again lend a helping hand whenever needed.  There are lots of shops and restaurants between the falls and the village and it wouldn’t be complete without a little rifle range where a kid no older than 10 loaded shotguns to take a crack at pieces of chalk for 1 dhm/shot.  I do enjoy guns and was very pleased that I managed to take out a stick of blue chalk before running out of change.  Once we got back to the bottom most of the group went to have lunch in the river before we headed back to Marrakech.

All in all a nice way to enjoy a day outside the city, overpriced as you’ll discover if you do tour reviews online but still cheap by Western standards.

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