Visit Errachidia, Morocco Tours
Visit Errachidia: Situated at 1010 meters altitude in an arid zone at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, this is the former town of Ksar Es-Souk. Inhabited by the Aït Yafelmane tribe, it served as a base for the French Foreign Legion during the French protectorate until 1956.
It was built in the early 20th century in military style, with straight, well-planned streets.
It is located on the Ziz River, which brings water from the melting Atlas glaciers and forms a pond. The river dies a little further south, in the Sahara.
Today, it is the capital of the Tafilalet region and a major administrative, commercial, military and university center.
Its valleys are among the oases of southern Morocco declared a World Heritage Site, with an abundance of geological and mineral deposits where date palms are grown.
All the area’s traditional architecture is based on the principle of fortification.
The kasbah or tighremt is a multi-storey building with towers at the four corners and, in some cases, a central patio.
The alcazar (ksar or ighrem) is a walled village with watchtowers at various points and one or more monumental entrances. Inside, in addition to the houses, there is always a mosque, a space for celebrations and, sometimes, an inn (fondouk).
The climate is desert-like, with cold winters (temperatures drop below zero) and very hot summers (40°). The best seasons are spring and autumn.
Errachidia has a small airport with regular flights to Casablanca and charter flights. It is a base and departure town for desert tourism, to the dunes of Merzouga, Erfoud, Rissani, the Route des Kasbahs, the Atlas or the Rekkan plateau, with garages for off-road vehicles.
Of particular note is the Moulay Hassan Eddakhil pond. With the contrast between the blue of its waters and the ochre of the mountains, this is a very beautiful site. It’s also a resting place for migratory birds, and much used by anglers.
The El Kheng gorge is also well worth a visit.
Nearby is the Ksar Jdid lake, a former sand mine.
In May, the Desert Music Festival is celebrated throughout the Tafilalet region. It lasts a week and features artists from Arabia and Africa.
Visit Errachidia: The region’s ceramics are characterized by the absence of ornamental paint, but are naturally glazed.
In the oases, handicrafts are produced to meet local needs as well as the demands of the region’s nomadic population. Iron forging was specific to the black population. Silver silversmithing was, at another time, a specialty of the Hebrews, in addition to carpentry and saddlery.
Women, for their part, weave carpets or blankets and embroider haiks, not professionally but as a complementary activity to their domestic work. Carpets, woollen fabrics (djellabas, handiras, burnous, hayeks) or silver jewelry with semi-precious stones represent some of their activities.
In the nearby mountains, aromatic and medicinal plants that would later be found in traditional herbalist shops abound. Herbs are used extensively in local cuisine, and we mustn’t forget the magnificent dates.
Nearby, we can admire fossil deposits from the primary era, when the area was submerged under the sea.
The basis of nutrition is wheat, corn or barley flour, with which bread and couscous are made. Couscous is the region’s standard meal.
At lunchtime, a tajine is usually prepared with bread, vegetables and pieces of meat cooked in a mixture of water, oil and numerous spices.
Hotel accommodation is fairly basic. The most luxurious hotel is the Kensi Rissani (4 stars) in the city center, next to the river; nearby are the Hôtel Vallée Ziz (3 stars), Hôtel Kasbah Aferdou (3 stars), Le Riad (3 stars) and Auberge Tinit, in the tourist area on the road to Ouarzazate.
It is also possible to sleep in tourist camps in the desert.
We recommend hotels in the nearby villages of Erfoud, Merzouga or Rissani.
Visit Errachidia: Following the main road to Ouarzazate (N-10) along the Todra River, we come to the Fekla palm grove, with its ancient Almoravid Kasbah, and a superb hotel, the Gîte Elkhhobat, from where a road leads to Erfoud and mountain trails to Mesissi, on the Rissani-Zagora road. At the Tinghir exit, we come across Kasbah El Khobat.
Heading towards the mountains, we reach the mountain oasis of Aghbalou Kerdous. It’s a sublime and very tranquil place, distinguished by its springs, caves and typical Berber villages.
ROAD TO FES
The Ziz Gorges, 45 km towards Fes, are the historic gateway to Tafilalet. The road borders an artificial lake on the outskirts of the town, where you can admire the Tirhiorite and Amezoudj Kasbahs, the Ziz pass, palm groves, the adobe Kasbah of Ifri and the Legionnaire tunnel, cut into the limestone by the French during the protectorate.
Along the way, we find the Kasbah Hôtel Camping Jurassique (3 stars), in an area where dinosaur remains have been found.
ROUTE TO TAFILET
Visit Errachidia: This road follows the palm-fringed valley of the River Ziz. At 18 km, in the middle of the palm grove, you’ll notice a blue spring, an oasis of freshness and greenery in the middle of the desert. Above it, in the mountains, you can see the former French fort of Meski.
Heading south through the valley, we pass the Aoufous palm grove, declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, which stands out from the surrounding desert and hamada. Among the palm groves and gardens, we can admire several kasbahs, including the ancient Alaouite palace of Maaka.
93 km away, we find a former military post that was established in this oasis because of its strategic geographical location for the colonial penetration of Morocco. It lies close to the Sahara, in the Tafilalet region close to the border with Algeria.
It’s an ideal place to take a break when traveling by all-terrain vehicle.
Here we find rural accommodation: the Gîte la Posada.
Heading north, we arrive at the Kasbah of Tazourguerte and, after crossing Belkassen, we reach the mountain villages of B. TAJJITE and TALSINNT, which gained notoriety after oil was discovered a few years ago. It’s a good site for fossil lovers.
These trails continue northwards across the Rekkam plateau, a long, little-traveled desert area inhabited only by nomadic shepherds.
From here, heading south across a rocky hamada, we can reach Erfoud and Merzouga.
Visit Errachidia: An oasis located 140 km from the Guir river, which originated as a French army detachment. Today, this small rural roadside town boasts beautiful mountain scenery and small, traditional-style villages.
All-terrain vehicle trails start here, as does a road heading north across the Atlas Mountains, up the river and through villages such as Takoumit and Aourir, or through the lead mining area of Morthel, home to a French fort.
This route continues to Beni Tajjite, Talsinnt and Minsour, in the Mouluya river valley.
Military checkpoint with the Algerian border, 225 km away, next to the Douiss bird pond. This is a roadside stopover used by off-road vehicle enthusiasts.
A departure point for routes to the northern Saharan Atlas, the Rekkam plateau and Talsinnt.
The road crosses the Tamlelt plain, where lagoons have formed with the rain. These contrast with the desert, and are home to many birds. The area is dotted with dayas, depressions where humidity is concentrated and vegetation (trees) grows.
Visit Errachidia: 282 km away, we find the former mining center of Manganeso and the end of the old railway line. It later became the region’s administrative and commercial center. It is also a livestock market.
The road ends in Figuig, 390 km from the Algerian border.