Adventure Travel in Morocco
Traveling south east of Agadir and near Ait Baha, those looking for some great trekking and cultural enlightenment might head for Tafraoute. Many travel guides agree that the town is of little interest itself. However, over the last few years, it has seen a rapid increase in tourism, namely due to its location – a base camp where hikers can explore the surrounding heaps of pink, red, and coffee-brown rocks, bluffs, and small cliffs.
Tafraoute, surrounded by mountains, sits among other small Berber villages of the Ameln Valley. Additionally, much like areas near just north of Merzouga, the village is surrounded by palmeries, but is not as rich in dates or produce as other areas. In fact, at one time, the area underwent a massive famine that caused many of the older male villagers to emigrate elsewhere in search of work. Many traveled as far as France in order that they are able to send money home to their families. Even though the area is still somewhat poverty-stricken, the men who return from working in other Moroccan cities or abroad often construct lavish houses so that they might spend the rest of their days in comfort.
Tourism in the area has given the townspeople a new domain in which to work. Now, instead of leaving the town for two or three decades to labor, some of the younger men of the area act as tour guides into the surrounding mountains and lush valleys. Many claim to be found in the guidebooks as the “one” you can trust, but don’t be fooled. You might end up in a carpet shop sipping mint tea and bargaining for a carpet you might not have wanted. But, if carpets are of interest, then this is a splendid place in which to do such business. Most of the locals are laid back and more than used to backpackers and trekkers.
If you are in the area in late February or early March, you might be able to the almond harvest that is truly many of the townspeople’s backbone of survival. The festivities include Berber music, singing and dancing, and other festivities that stretch across the valley, one town partying after the previous one. If you miss the festival in Tafraoute, you might consider exploring the area or talking to one of the many local guides who will ensure that you are a part of any celebration.
Tafraoute is developing its name as one of the most relaxed places to hang out in all of Morocco. Alongside with towns such as Essaouira or the Rabat Medina, Tafraoutis tend to go about their daily lives and business even with foreigners all around them. Female travelers who might be alone during their venture through Morocco will find that this village will give them a break from some of the overly forward Moroccans in the more tourist-frequented places of the country, such as Fez or even Marrakech. This is probably due to the fact that historically women have been in charge of the operations of the town since most of the men find work elsewhere. The dichotomy is a strange phenomenon in this region and has some similarities with other North African tribes. So, whether you are looking for some great trekking, breathtaking scenery, or simply a place to relax, Tafraoute is a great choice for those exploring the souss-side of Morocco.