Nestled in the foothills of the mighty High Atlas Mountains, the Ourika Valley makes a popular day trip from Marrakech at just 30km from the city center. A lush expanse of terraced fields and forested hillsides, the valley provides a picturesque backdrop for hiking expeditions, with its verdant hills set against the stark red rock of the mountains. At the heart of the valley are the dramatic Setti Fatma falls, a series of 7 cascading waterfalls that flow into the Ourika River and make a thrilling scramble for adventurous travelers.
Set at around 1,300 meters, Ourika not only offers welcome respite from the summer heat of Marrakech but makes a popular base-camp for winter tourists visiting the ski resort of Oukaimeden. For the majority of visitors though, the area’s principal attraction is its traditional Berber settlements and the valley sides are dotted with red mud-built houses, camouflaged against the sparse mountain slopes. The main Berber village of Setti Fatma, while frequented by tourists, maintains a traditional way of life, tending to the communal saffron farm and organic herb farm, producing pottery works and handicrafts to sell and serving a range of homemade tajines and breads in the valley’s restaurants. A particularly special time to visit in on a Monday, when the local souk (market) of Tnin Ourika sprawls through the village and a mix of locals and tourists take to the market square to haggle for goods, sip sweet Moroccan mint tea and catch up on gossip.