Things to do in Errachidia
The province of Errachidia
The province of Errachidia offers a natural environment rich in contrasts, but also a journey back in time through its historical and cultural heritage. Put yourself in the shoes of a Tuareg and set off on an adventure!
The province of Errachidia was established in 1956 on the borders of south-eastern Morocco. To the east lies the province of Figuig. To the west are the provinces of Azilal and Beni Mellal. The province of Boulmane lies to the north, while to the south, Errachidia is bounded by the Moroccan-Algerian border.
The Arabs used to call the region Ksar Es-Souk. Berbers, on the other hand, called it Imetgharen. In 1975, the province received its current name, Errachidia, in honor of Moulay Rachid ben El Hassan, the Alawite prince and youngest son of King Hassan II. Several members of the Moroccan royal family still live in the eponymous capital to this day.
Tafilalet: cradle of the Alaouite dynasty
The province of Errachidia is home to Tafilalet, one of Morocco’s most important historical regions. Known as the country’s largest oasis, it is also the birthplace of the Berber queen Tin Hinan, whom the Tuaregs honor as their original ancestor. In the Middle Ages, Tafilalet was an important crossroads on the trade route for gold, spices and salt, as well as for the slave trade from the Balad es-soûdân or Pays des Noirs (Niger, Mali and the Gulf of Guinea regions). Tafilalet is home to the mythical city of Sijilmassa, where the Alaouite dynasty was born in 1631. Morocco’s current king, His Majesty Mohammed VI, is a direct descendant of the dynasty’s founder, Moulay Ali Charif (1588-1659).
In the province of Errachidia, you’ll cross both immense arid zones and vast palm groves. The most adventurous explorers can continue on to the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains and the enchanting dunes of the Moroccan desert. The epic journey may seem tough, but fortunately the Ziz, Guir and Ghris wadis wind their way through the province, leading to the great oasis of Tafilalet, where you can enjoy a refreshing break.
A land of history
The different tribes who have lived in the province of Errachidia have given rise to an impressive mosaic of people and traditions, particularly in the greater Tafilalet area. Visit the ruins of the legendary town of Sijilmassa, founded in the 7th century. Morocco’s ancient commercial and cultural capital has long been the center of trade with Black Africa, the Maghreb, the Orient and Europe.
Scattered across the province, historic monuments and mausoleums speak of Errachidia’s prosperous past. Key attractions include
The Ksours: fortified villages typical of North Africa, the most important of which are ksar el Fida (the oldest of the Alouite Ksours in Tafilalet), ksar Oulad Abdelhalim (the administrative, judicial and war council headquarters in the time of Moulay Rachid) and ksar Abouaam (a major cultural center in the time of Sultan Moulay Ali Cherif);
Abou Salem Library
Moulay Ali Cherif Mausoleum
The provincial capital Errachidia
The eponymous capital of the province of Errachidia was developed in the early 20th century by the French Foreign Legion. It retained its military character even after Morocco declared independence. Numerous soldiers still patrol the town, guarding the border with Algeria.
The town of Errachidia is booming. It boasts a renowned university with a multi-disciplinary faculty. In the town center, around the bus station, you’ll find all the services you need for everyday life: post office, banks, stores, etc. There’s also a small indoor market, where you can sample the best of the local produce on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Unlike its surroundings, the town has no great examples of local architecture.
While the days in Errachidia are rather quiet because of the sun, the evenings present a different atmosphere. Families leave their homes to stroll around the “rond-point” and enjoy the coolness of the garden at the foot of the date palms. But if you really want to see Errachidia ignite, plan your trip for May, when its theater hosts the famous Festival du Désert, with artists from all over the Sahara.
Errachidia is at the start of many exciting excursions, including the sand dunes of Merzouga, the palm groves of Goulmima and Ziz, Lake Tifounacine, the Gheris valley, the blue spring of Meski, and mountains peaking at over 3,200 m in altitude. Just 12 km away, you’ll find the Hassan-Addakhil dam reservoir, which, with its green waters and scarlet earth embankment, makes a great photo spot. Further afield, the towns of Rich (60 km to the north) and Erfoud (70 km to the south) show another side of traditional Morocco. Time seems to stand still in these towns, and you’ll often come across mules, horses and donkeys in the streets.
When to visit?
Errachidia is nicknamed “The province of 330 days of sunshine”. The region has a semi-desert climate with a strong continental influence. Temperatures are characterized by wide seasonal and daily variations. Over the year, the thermometer reads an average of 20°C. It doesn’t rain much in Errachidia, averaging 25 days a year with a precipitation rate of 120 mm.
How to get there
Errachidia is located on Route Nationale 10, which links Agadir to Bouarfa, passing through the towns of Taroudant and Ouarzazate. The province has an airport connected to Casablanca, but its use is generally limited to events and private travel.
Depending on your location, you can get around Errachidia by quad bike, motorcycle, car or camel (or simply on foot).
What to do in Errachidia
Recharge your batteries in the Tafilalet oasis
Visit the provincial capital Errachidia
Explore the sand dunes of Merzouga
Organize an excursion to Lake Hassan-Addakhil
Attend the Festival du Désert in May, etc.