Dades Valley

Dades, Panorama of the High Atlas

From Boumalne Dades, the road that leads to Msemrir along the valley offers an exceptional panorama, accessible by tourist car, along the Oued Dadès which has been digging its way for millennia.

From its source in the High Atlas, the Oued Dadès flows on a long journey of about 200 km, to end its race near Ouarzazate from where it joins the oued Drâa, forming a large lake due to the dam El Mansour Eddahdi.

The valley of the Dades can be divided into two distinct parts, both by their natures and landscapes:

Upstream, from its source to Boumalne Dades, it meanders in mountainous landscapes, often arid and denuded, punctuated by a succession of small palm groves garnished with seasonal cereal crops, ksour and old kasbahs typical of southern Morocco.

Downstream, from Boulmane Dades to Ouarzazate, it irrigates an immense fertile valley sheltering verdant villages and palm groves; The river Mgoun joined it at Kelaat Mgouna.

Dades gorges

The Dades Gorges, formed during millennia, from Jurassic (200 to 140 million years) to the Eocene (55 to 23 million years), are one of the most interesting of the south for its geological formations.

Garnished with sandstone and calcareous rocks, the Oued Dadès has painfully dug its riverbed, thus giving us the formation of a succession of four distinct and extraordinary defiles bordering the oued of vertiginous cliffs up to 500 m. The most impressive being that of Tissadrine shortly before the high valley of Msemrir.

The Gorges begin a few kilometers from Boumalne, after the village of Aït Oudinar. The road, tarred up to Msemrir undulates overlooking the oued in some places.

It makes us cross small green oases where we discover those old renownde kasbahs in southern Morocco, like this one of Aït Moutad, leaned against a cliff and topped with 5 towers, or those of the villages of Aït Larbi and Imdiazen.

The Dades valley’s curiosities

One of the most popular and visited sites is that of the Tamlalt’s cliffs, also called “fingers of monkeys” due to their formidable natural sculpture.

The Dades is filled with magical places offering pretexts to many excursions, along the canyons and the oued, for lovers of a nature that has preserved its wild beauty. At nightfal, luminosity and colors will make you forget the tiredness of several hours of hike.

From The Dades Valley To The High Atlas

Several official guides offices are present to advise you or propose different itineraries or excursions. One is near the Great Mosque, The winter period is more conducive for excursions to the Anti-Atlas when the High Atlas lends itself better in the summer months.

In the village of Msemrir, you can find post office and doctor, accommodation and catering.

Dades Kasbahs

The gorges of the Dades, and the road leading there, comprise several kasbahs. Among them, Slilou’s kasbah, not far from the city and built by the caid Mimoun. It is one of the highest in the region, with no less than five levels.

The kasbah of Aït Moutad, leaned against a cliff, has the peculiarity of owning five towers instead of the usual four. This beautiful kasbah is open to the public.

Continuing the route of the gorges, several picturesque villages, including Imdiazen and Tighadouine have kasbahs in more or less good state of conservation.

Gorges of Sidi Boubkar

Off pathes, the small gorge of Sidi Boubkar is located about ten kilometers from Boumalne. its access is not easy to find, it’s better to go to the guides office before venturing there.

A short hike and a big breath of air and tranquility in a magical site that has kept its wild beauty and authenticity.

Every corner of this splendid road of the Dades gorges offers a different spectacle. The ocher cliffs of Tamlalt, marvelous natural sculpture better known as ‘fingers of monkey’, leaving an unforgettable memory by its appearance.

Or even Tissadrine and its vertiginous walls overhanging from their height the riverbed of the oued Dades.

Witnesses of Jewish life in the region

Many ” mellahs ”, like those who dot the road to Boumalne or Tinghir, testify the importance and influence of the Jewish community in the region.

These mud-built structures were surrounded by high walls to separate the Jewish and Muslim populations. The term mellah derives its origin from the Arabic word ” melh ” meaning salt.

One of the functions devolved to certain Moroccan Jews and which was at its peak during the reign of Moulay Ismaïl (1672/1727), was to conserve in salt, while exposing them to the public, the heads of the central power enemies …

Boumalne, capital of the Dades valley

Built on the top of a cliff, the small town of Boumalne is a very active administrative center especially on Wednesday, which is the Souk day.

Overlooking the oued and its valley, going for a walk or using a bike is advised to discover quietly, especially at the end of the day, these cultivated plots of wheat, maize, barley, alfalfa, mixed with fruit trees, olive trees and poplar trees. It’s also a refuge for many bird species and small birds of prey.

Join the Mgoun Valley

From the small village of Ait Youl, at the entrance of the Dadès gorges, there is a mule track leading to Bou Tharar in the neighboring valley of M’Goun.

A fantastic hike in perspective, accompanied by mules, to discover the High Atlas and its magnificent landscapes.

Discover the birds valley

Ornithologists, amateur or not, will be able to make a trip to Tagdilt, near Jbel Sagho, to observe a large variety of birds staying there in the small ‘birds valley’.

For this you have to cross some of the fantastic mineral landscapes of the Sagho by taking the direction of the picturesque village of Ikniouin, then take the track of Tagdilt. Awsome trip in a magical place away from the main tourist routes.

Msemrir and the Todra’s track

In the upper valley of the Dades, Msemrir is endowed with an old ksar. It’s an important encounters and exchanges place for many semi-nomadic Berber tribes. Its tranquility and its beauty will give you some great souvenirs.

Situated on the High Atlas road, it is a must to reach the Central High Atlas, the upper Imilchill valley or, simply, the Todra gorges.

The route reaching the oued Todra and its beautiful valley is fabulous. From the verdant valley of Msemrir, take the direction of Tamtattouchte or Aït Hani. After crossing, in a sumptuous landscape, the 2,800 m altitude peak, from Tamtattouchte or Aït Hani take the direction of Tinghir and the majestic Todra Gorges.

Toward Agoudal and Imilchil

The equally magical road to the upper valley of Imilchil has two itineraries. One by the picturesque village of Tilmi and the formidable Tizi-n-Ouano.

A very high pass that leads to the village of Agoudal, which would be the highest inhabited village of Morocco (2,300 m). Then join the sweet and beautiful valley of Imilchil, perched at 2 000 m.

The second road passes, after Msemrir, by Aït Hani and avoids the Tizi-n-Ouano, often snowed in winter. This route is longer, but there is less risk of snow cover.

For this, after passing Aït Hani, we must join Agoudal by the proud Tizi-n-Tirerhouzine, perched at 2700 m, in a landscape of desert mountains with unforgettable lunar colors, declining all shades of gray and mineral structures.

Join Agoudal and finally Imilchil village famous for the festival of the “fiancés” and the legend of its two emblematic lakes.

These two seductive and varied itineraries will leave you with an unforgettable memory. Nevertheless, they often require a 4×4 and some informations from the local authorities, or the guides’ offices, about the climatic conditions in winte.

You have to keep in mind that summer storms can sometimes be very violent in these high valleys.

The Valley And Its Inhabitants

The Dades valley has always been a meeting place for the various nomadic and pastoral Berber tribes of the region. The summer grazing areas are in the High Atlas and those in the Jbel Saghro are reached during winter.

The Aït Sedrate, Aït Haddidou and Aït Atta’s tribes used to practice transhumance here, favoring intertribal exchanges, marriages and business.

Some tribes have settled there for a long time, living in places that are often difficult to access. Their flocks of dromedaries, goats or sheep, and the wool they derive from them, under generally precarious conditions, are generally their only means of subsistence.

The settlement of the upper valley of the Dades accelerated on a royal decision from the 1850s, fixing more the nomadic clans there and installing families coming from the urban zones of the south, like Ouarzazate or Zagora.

Boumalne Dadès

Boumalne Dades is an administrative center that comes alive on Wednesday, the souk day.

The city offers many services almost all in the center near the central square: banks, pharmacies, post offices, cybercafes, some hotels without charm, but at low prices and restaurants in the main thoroughfare.

Transports

Collective small buses regularly serve the upper valley of the Dades and the gorges to Msemrir. And buses or collective taxis towards Tinghir or Ouarzazate.

There are several doctors and dentists in the center or upper town, as well as a hospital center on the road to Tinghir. Service stations are located either on the road to Ouarzazate or at the exit of Boumalne, towards Tinghir.

Ouarzazate Airport

The nearest airport to the Dades Valley is Ouarzazate, 112 km away. It operates some of direct flights to Paris and more flights from many European cities with a stopover in Casablanca. On the other side of the High Atlas, the airport of Marrakech is about 7 hours by road.

Bus station and large taxis

In Boumalne Dades, buses towards Ouarzazate and Errachidia mark their stops on the Mohammed V boulevard, in front of the mosque place. The large taxis provide regular connections to Tinghir and Kelaat M’Gouna.

Supratour Bus Agency

The agency and departures are located on the Mohammed V Boulevard. Open every day from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 4 pm to 9:30 pm.

CTM Bus Agency

Agency and departures are also located on the Mohammed V Boulevard. The agency is open every day from 7 am to 10 pm.

* rates are increased from 10 to 20% during the Muslim celebrations, and from the end of June to the end of August.

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Le Jardin de la Source

Dades Valley – From 25 €

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Dades Valley – From 27 €

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Maison Amazigh

Dades Valley – From 20 €

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La Perle du Dades

Dades Valley – From 55 €

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Auberge les Jardins du Dades

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