The Ouzoud Waterfalls
Though chiefly associated with rolling sand dunes and desert vistas, Morocco also features some spectacular sights that one wouldn’t expect to see in a North African country. Case in point: the Ouzoud Waterfalls. Located in Morocco’s Azilal province 95 miles north-east of Marrakech, the Ouzoud Waterfalls (or “Cascades d’Ouzoud” in French) present a striking picture of beauty that is all the more unexpected compared to the ruggedness of the surrounding country.
The Ouzoud Waterfalls are a complex network of waterfalls that cascade one into another through 3 major and several minor drops. From top to bottom, the chain of waterfalls stretches 330 feet. The brilliant white of the stirred-up water contrasts dramatically with the rich red sandstone outcroppings of the El Abid river gorge. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region, the Ouzoud Waterfalls offer visitors a number of options to best view this astonishing natural wonder.
From the base of the falls, a path winds between ancient olive trees that have given their name to the falls – “Ouzoud” means “olive” in the Berber language. For those who prefer a bird’s eye view, there are a number of small roads that lead to the summit and then descend to the bottom. Be sure to watch carefully as the sun sets: that’s when extended family groups of the local monkeys visit the falls to play amongst the splashing waters and rising mists.
As befits its importance to Morocco as a scenic destination and as recognition of the fragile ecosystem around the Ouzoud Waterfalls, local, regional and national government bodies are spearheading conservation projects intended to protect the area and prevent its exploitation. Should you be lucky enough to visit the Ouzoud Waterfalls, perhaps as a side trip from a vacation in Marrakech, do your part by not discarding litter. Preserving the Ouzoud Waterfalls for future generations to enjoy is a gift to both future visitors and sign of respect for your gracious Moroccan hosts.