An Adventure Amidst the Beni-Snassen Mountains
The magnificent Beni-Snassen Mountains are located west of the city of Oujda and south of Berkane in eastern Morocco. These stunning limestone mountains reach a height of about 1,500 meters and are a geological continuation of the Rif Mountains to the west. The Beni-Snassen Mountains are one of five sites in north-eastern Morocco to have been identified as study sites of biological and ecological interest (SIBE). It was here in the Beni-Snassen Mountains that what is believed to be the oldest human skeleton in North Africa was found.
The Beni-Snassen Mountains are named after the Berber tribe that lives in small villages on the slopes and foothills of the mountains. The mountains stand out like an oasis in the area, with slopes that are covered in small oak trees, a variety of evergreens and fragrant herbs, which are watered by numerous streams rising from mountain springs. There are also large vineyards on the slopes, which were planted by French settlers in the 1920s. It is here that the renowned Vins des Beni-Snassen is produced.
Tourists wanting to explore the area could travel from Taforalt through the Beni-Snassen Mountains to arrive at Berkane, some twenty kilometers away. En route, visitors could explore the Grotte des Pigeons, where the early stone-age skeletal remains were discovered. The next stop could be the Grotte du Chameau, which features interesting stalactite/stalagmite formations, with one bearing a strong resemblance to a camel. Before arriving at Berkane, travelers could explore the deep gorges in the limestone, known as Gorges du Zegzel. The road passes through lush medlar fruit plantations and orange groves before arriving at Berkane.
Tourists and locals flock to the slopes of the Beni-Snassen Mountains for some relaxation in charming surroundings. Eco-tourism opportunities are being investigated for the Beni-Snassen Mountains and surroundings. Eco-tourism often proves to be a huge boost for small communities that live in naturally beautiful surroundings and take pride in preserving their age-old traditions and customs. Although eco-tourism means different things to differing people there are three basic components to be considered. Eco-tourism brings visitors to areas of unspoiled natural beauty and cultural interest. Eco-tourists should conduct themselves in a way so as not to disturb the environment, while having respect for local culture, and in this way not diminish the region’s appeal for the next visitor. Eco-tourism should bring direct financial benefit to the communities that are hosting the tourists.
Certainly the striking Beni-Snassen Mountains of Morocco have all the right ingredients for successful eco-tourism – to the benefit of current and future generations.