Butterflies, Birds and Stunning Scenery of Jbel Tazzeka
Nature lovers visiting Morocco are sure to enjoy exploring the Jbel Tazzeka National Park located near the city of Taza between the Middle Atlas and Rif mountains in northern Morocco. Before even entering the park, visitors can take a small detour to view the Ras el-Oued waterfall which is a spectacular sight when water is plentiful, but even when it is reduced to a trickle during dry periods, the high cliff with its moss-covered rocks and blue-green pool beneath are worth seeing.
The park’s forests consist mainly of oak trees, with flowering rockrose providing splashes of color. Butterfly species that may be spotted along the way include the brightly colored knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe), dark green fritillary (Argynnis aglaja), and skipper butterflies from the Hesperiidae family. The rich birdlife to be found in the park includes the distinctive hoopoe, wood pigeons, rollers, shrikes, nuthatches and a variety of titmice.
The first mountain pass in the Jbel Tazzeka park opens up a view of the Dayat Chiker lake which, depending on the season, will either be filled with water, or be planted with cereal crops. Around four kilometers from that point are the Gouffre du Friouato caves, one of the main attractions of the area and certainly not to be missed. Believed to be the deepest cave in North Africa, there are 500 steps to descend to where various tunnels branch off the main chamber. A narrow sloping tunnel leads out of the caves. Local guides are usually on hand to take visitors on a tour for a fee. There is another cave further on at Ain Bechar, where visitors will also find accommodation. Further still is the village of Bab-Bou-Idir, a popular summer-time destination offering a camping ground and café for refreshments.
The road up Tazzeka Mountain can be bypassed, but those who choose to travel the rather rocky path to the lookout point will be rewarded by breathtaking views of the surrounding cedar forests and will be able to see the city of Fez, located around 100 kilometers to the west. Continuing through the park in the direction of Sidi-Abdallah-Rhiata, travelers will pass through majestic oak forests and the dramatic gorge of Oued Zireg before leaving the spectacular Jbel Tazzeka National Park.