After Marrakech, Camping Zebra on the outskirts of Ozoud was the perfect place for a regroup, a relax and a bit of peace and quiet.
The campsite is very well maintained with a cafe and seating area to relax in as well as great views if you can bag a pitch towards the back of the site.
The Cascades d’Ouzoud are Morocco’s highest waterfall and just a fifteen minute walk from the campsite. At 110 metres high they are pretty impressive and very easily accessible from the town.
The town itself sits above the falls and has the usual cafes and touristy shops. After a breakfast of pancakes and coffee at one of the cafes we had a gander at the falls before taking a footpath which follows the direction of the river downstream on the eastern side for a couple of kilometres.
There are several paths leading down to the river. As it was still early (before 11 o’clock) most of the cafes and little makeshift shops were still closed or in the process of opening up.
Some were hoping to catch the early birds and already had all their wares out on display. It was a good time to visit.
Towards the end of the footpath where the river converges with another one we acquired a guide. Aouiss appeared out of the last cafe on the path and asked if we wanted to have a tajine for lunch. Telling him we had already eaten didn’t deter him as he skipped alongside us giving a running commentary on the area, the river, Berbère life etc. We didn’t really need a guide but as he indulged me in speaking French even though he could speak English well enough we let him lead us to wherever he intended on leading us knowing that the tour wouldn’t be ‘free’. I was happy to have a bit of French practice and he did take us to see some rock formations which had been sculpted by the river over millennia which we probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
There was a bit of scrambling and climbing to do which posed no problems to our ‘guide’ as he had the agility of a goat whereas we had trouble keeping up.
After our impromptu tour Aouiss proposed that we cross the river and he’d take us on a tour to a traditional berbère village and then back to see the falls from several different viewpoints before returning to Ouzoud. As it was going to take a couple of hours I thought we’d better agree a price before we set off. You’d think that it would be a simple thing to do but it’s easier said than done here. After a conversation along the lines of ‘money come, money go, you enjoy, I share with you, I am happy to share, we are Bebères, you see, you enjoy, we look, I show you, we see ancient village, is very good, we want to share our culture, all my family are Bebères, we have no frontiers, money is not important, money come, money go, you see good things, we are friends, if after you offer something, I am happy, you are happy, everyone is happy, no problem’ we were no further forward so we just went with it, took off our shoes and made our way across the river.
Aouiss took off up the hill the other side like a rat up a drainpipe whilst we huffed and puffed trying to keep up.
It was spectacular though and the paths we took weren’t marked on our map and neither was the village that we visited and I still don’t know the name of it as it’s not named on google maps either.
It was great to see the traditionally built pisé houses in the village as there wasn’t any development with any of the concrete block style of housing. We stopped for tea there whilst Aouiss smoked cannabis from a home made pipe and talked to us about how the village had only just had running water installed into the houses in the last seven months. Before that ladies and children collected water from a tap at the edge of the village.
The king had visited Ouzoud a few years ago and had commissioned the hotel to be built that was in the third picture of this blog post and also for a new mosque for the village that we visited. The mosque has taken just two years to complete.
Dropping down the hill from the village we were introduced to one of the farmers who was busy ploughing one of the little terraces with the help of two donkeys. Then it was a climb back up to see the falls from afar.
All in all we were with Aouiss for three hours and we’d really enjoyed the walk which turned out to be a good work out trailing behind in his wake. We stopped a few hundred metres from the campsite where our guide turned to us and asked if we had enjoyed the tour. When we said we had he said ‘ok, then we are all happy with €40’. Eh? €40? Where did that come from? What happened to ‘we are happy if you offer something at the end?’ Mmm, it seemed we were at cross purposes. Basing the price on our tour of Fèz which lasted six hours and included transport to and from the campsite and cost us €35, ten percent of which probably has to go to the campsite because the guide has exclusive access to the campers, I had thought €20 would have been more than a fair price for a three hour impromptu tour on foot. In the end we agreed on €20 and he went away with a few clothes that we had left from our bag of stuff. It hadn’t been an unpleasant exchange at the end and he wasn’t in the least bit threatening but I did feel a little disappointed with the way he’d gone about it especially as we had tried to agree a set price before the tour proper had started. Still, we were still happy that we’d seen some of the countryside and a bit of village life that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
When we saw how busy it was at the falls in the afternoon after our walk we decided to have a look at the falls from the other side of the river in the early morning. A path, lined with cafes and shops, zigzags down the hill to the bottom of the falls.
You don’t realise there are so many until you walk down through them all. It was sad to see a fair bit of litter around and it all had a bit of a shabby look to it. The shopkeepers try to keep their areas clean and tidy and litter free and even sweep the earth in some cases.
Bearing in mind the access is limited and things can only be brought in and out by foot or by hoof it would be great if people took their litter away with them.
Everyone has pockets or a bag and it would be an easy thing to do. Hey-ho.
Our intention after Ouzoud had been to head back to the coast north of Casablanca to follow the Atlantic back to Tanger Med but as we didn’t fancy any more large cities we decided to go up the middle via Azrou and Meknès again.
Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains is in our sights before heading back to Spain.