Cascades d'Ouzoud

We arrived at the town of Tanaghmeilt in the Grand Atlas region in late afternoon, just managing to drive the truck over the narrow bridge to a welcoming Kasbah beyond. Nearby we could hear the churning of the Cascades d’Ouzoud; the spectacular waterfalls measuring 110m high which plunge over the red sandstone cliffs to the beautiful green valley below. It is one of the most glorious of all Moroccan landscapes, and rainbows are formed there daily.










We thought it would be too late to climb down the steep cliffs to the base of the falls, and would wait until the morning, but the sound of the gushing water called to us irresistibly, and we felt compelled to look.








We walked through a grove of Olive trees, it was November and the ground was carpeted with ripe black olives. The Cascades take their name from the Berber word for olive: ‘Ouzoud’.








The waterfalls are the highest in North Africa, and by the time the water has descended to the bottom, it has transformed into a white mist, surrounded by the burnished terracotta of the cliffs. We were standing in awe, transfixed by the power and sound of the water when we noticed movement behind us, and turned to see what it was.





We had not been told about the Barbary monkeys that have made their home here at the falls.


It was a wonderful surprise, and there was a group of about 20 or so, all busily having their afternoon tea, collecting the feast of olives eagerly from the path and nibbling at them ferociously.


They seemed oblivious to our staring, fascinated, at them.









We started taking photos, and they put on quite a show; the teenagers started playing, the mothers piggybacking the youngsters and the dominant male taking his pick of the females – it was the start of the mating season!











They seemed a very friendly bunch, and we were lucky enough to encounter them again the following morning, on the winding path which leads you down the sides of the gorge to the base of the falls.













The best way to approach the Cascades is from this quieter side of the valley; free from the cafes and stalls on the traditional route opposite. Olive and Carob trees line this path, and on every turn there is a new stunning vista from which to take in the falls.






At the base, a ferryman waits in a handmade wooden boat to transport you across the water to the other side. Alternatively there is a small bridge that you can walk across and see water rushing under your feet, look up at the rainbows and feel the mist on your face.


Once on the other side, you can ascend the path to the village above, there are plenty of spots to pause and take photographs against the backdrop of the multi-step waterfalls, and this path is lined with stalls and restaurants, but sadly no more monkeys!












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