What to do in Taliouine, Morocco
Taliouine is a town in the Taroudant Souss-Massa province of Morocco. The surrounding area is well worth a visit, being the land of saffron and, further north, argan. There’s plenty to see and do in the area. Find out all you need to know and do in this Taliouine travel guide.
Visit the saffron fields
Taliouine is renowned for its saffron cultivation throughout Morocco and indeed the world. This spice is the most expensive on the planet, so it’s no coincidence that it’s nicknamed “red gold”. Crocus is a flower that requires a great deal of work and precision.
Harvesting takes place at dawn when each pistil is picked before the sun gets too strong. If the sun is too strong, the pistils wither and compromise the harvest. Flowering is a matter of degrees. A single degree above the flowering threshold is enough to delay flowering by 15 days.
How can I visit the saffron fields?
You can visit saffron farms by meeting the locals, or by going directly to the cooperatives, which often organize tours. Here’s one in the link below:
Visit the Taliouine souk
The Taliouine market is a lively place where you’ll find the region’s handicrafts and specialties, including saffron, which is sold by the smallest producers. The souk takes place on Monday mornings.
Hiking in Taliouine
Taliouine and the surrounding area are popular with holidaymakers, offering a wide range of hiking routes and circuits. You’ll pass through many steep villages with magnificent views.
As well as choosing to hike the heights of Taliouine during your trip, I’d also recommend hiking the Oued Zamgouzen, at the foot of the town. It’s a beautiful place, with some areas teeming with life.
You’ll see many birds, as well as aquatic turtles (Mauremys leprosa) throwing themselves off the rocks as you arrive. Some spots are even deep enough to swim in.
Visit the agadirs
Taliouine and the surrounding area are packed with archaeological sites. Most of them are old wells and agadirs.
What is an Agadir?
Agadir (tagadirt) is a name taken from Chleuh (tachelhit), one of the 4 main Berber languages, meaning “sloping” or “uneven”, and refers to a citadel or fortress. In other regions, this name may also be given to a collective granary.
You’ll find plenty of agadirs in and around Taliouine. The region is full of them. They’re great places to visit when you’re out hiking. It’s a sport because, as their names suggest, they are positioned on steep terrain. Their locations culminated the valleys to identify external threats from afar. Today, they offer some of Taliouine’s finest views.
Agadirs closest to Taliouine
If you’re in the town of Taliouine, there’s one you can’t miss if you scan the landscape. There’s an agadir on the eastern slope, easily accessible by crossing the wadi and climbing a little. This is the one shown here. The second is opposite the Taliouine bridge, on the western slope.
Discover Berber caves
Before they became sedentary, the Berbers (Amazigh) were nomads. This is no longer the case today, although a tiny minority still are. These nomadic Berbers lived (and still live) in caves, or rather in caves that were already there and then shaped and fitted out.
They are often located along wadis. Why were they built? Quite simply to provide water for their own needs, but above all for their herds. With more vegetation than on the arid heights, it makes sense to let cattle graze there.
Where can you find Berber caves in Taliouine?
As mentioned, you’ll find them where the water flows or in the valleys. On Taliouine’s east bank, immediately above the wadi, there are a number of them. You’ll find some of them at this location:
Visit the Taliouine Kasbah
South of the town of Taliouine, you can visit a large, sublime kasbah (Kasbah de Glaoui). One part is in ruins, but the other is still in a good state of preservation (on the outside, at least). It was once the residence of Marrakech governor El Haj T’hami El Mezouari El Glaoui of the Glaoua tribe.
Where is the kasbah located?
It’s just beyond the second Taliouine bridge to the south, towards Ouarzazate, on the right-hand side.
Hiking on Mount Jebel Sirwa
Jebel Sirwa (or Siroua) is a large extinct volcano with a peak culminating at 3,304 meters above sea level. It lies on the border between the Atlas and Anti-Atlas ranges. It’s a popular activity for tourists visiting Morocco and Taliouine.
The area is both visually and culturally rich, with traditional collective granaries known as “igoudars”.
There are also numerous cobalt, gold and silver mines. Saffron is also grown here. The area can be reached from Taliouine, some 35 km through the mountains.
After Morocco’s saffron capital, it’s time to visit Tazenakht (or Taznakhte), Morocco’s Berber carpet capital! Berber carpets are woven from the wool of a breed of sheep called Sirwa (native to the area mentioned above).
These carpets, which can fetch high prices, are bright and colorful, with motifs that differ from tribe to tribe. Originally, they are not inscribed at random, but have very specific meanings.
Where and how to see carpet weavers?
Go to the local stores to make arrangements with the merchants, or visit the carpet cooperatives. They’ll organize the visits for you. Here’s the address of a little-visited cooperative renowned for the quality of its craftsmanship and hospitality.
Tazenakht and the caravan route
Tazenakht was also an interesting town thanks to its geographical position on the caravan route. It was a strategic location that served several surrounding regions, making it a kind of hub for barter and trade in a wide range of spices, pottery, jewelry, cereals and other goods.
Visit Tazenakht during the souk
Tazenakht is a quiet town, except on market day, when all the local producers and villagers gather. This is definitely the best time to visit the town, which becomes full of life and even more interesting. The souk takes place every Thursday morning.
The Atlas Mountains are known for their abundance of hundreds of different stones. Tazenakht also has many, some of them rare and with structures close to cobalt. Here’s a sample (the 4 photos were taken in Tazenakht and come from Wikimedia Commons)
Some ten kilometers after Taliouine, you pass the commune of Assaki and land in argan country. You’ll find many argan trees along the roads to Taroudant. A good opportunity to buy local produce at good prices.
With a bit of luck, you’ll see herds of goats in the trees, as they are fond of the fruit of the argan tree.
About the argan
The argan tree (Argania spinosa) is an endemic species native to Morocco. Oil is obtained from its “fruits”, known as “affiaches”, which mature when they turn yellow-orange. Inside is a shell containing 2 or 3 kernels. It is from these that the oil is extracted.
Goats and harvesting
Traditionally, goats are used to harvest the kernels. These goats feed on the pulp of the fruit, selecting the ripest. As the hulls are not digested, the farmer simply has to pick them up from the ground in his droppings.
Find out more about argan work
As with saffron or carpets, you can visit local producers or go directly to the cooperatives. You can organize a visit and find out more about argan and the production of its products.
Visit the agadirs of Assaki
Also in Assaki, a few kilometers north of Taliouine, you’ll find a number of agadirs in the hills above the village. Climb up to one of them and you’ll be able to see all the others.
Enough to keep you busy for a whole day, as there are so many of them. It’s an activity I really enjoyed during my visit to Taliouine.
Visiting the nearest agadir
The nearest Agadir from the center of Assaki can be reached in just a few dozen minutes. You won’t miss it, as it’s clearly visible from the town. From here, you’ll find all the others.
Hiking in the Tislit Gorge
40 kilometers south of Taliouine lie the Gorges Tislite (or Tislit). A magnificent valley of volcanic rock through which a wadi flows. One of the most beautiful spots in the Taliouine region, it’s a must-see if you love nature and peace and quiet.