About Dades and Todra Gorges
Boumalne de Dades and Tineghir are ideal places to stay if you plan to do some hiking, exploring on self-drive holidays or even climbing in the famous gorges of the Dades and Todra Valleys. These locations are fascinating places and scenery in their own right and a superb bonus for a break to be enjoyed en route to the Sahara.
Between Ouarzazate and Boumalne the route along the Dades Valley passes along a road lined with kasbahs (ruined and renovated); it is also known as the Valley of the Roses and El Kelaa des M'Gouna is the centre of this industry, a fortified village renowned for its rosewater, made from petals grown all around this region. Just like the Dades Gorges and Todra Gorge further to the east, this side valley with its pinkish-red cliffs is a wonderful place for hiking. In May, the rose has the place of honour in a three-day festival held throughout the area - you can see rose water being made and buy associated products or just enormous bunches of roses to dry.
At the entrance to the beautiful Dades Gorge area and overlooking the valley itself from the hillside, Boumalne de Dades is the place to stay if you are looking for great scenery and an authentic Kasbah-style base to explore the grandiose gorges to the north. The Jbel Saghro is situated south of Boumalne where you can observe some of the 150 varieties of birds already spotted in the Valley of the Birds. At the end of September, the little village of Aït Ameur, situated about 20km from Imilchil, holds the Fiancé moussem; thousands of Berbers pitch their traditional tents near this High Atlas village and join in the festivities where, as well as being a fair, marriages are arranged or celebrated on this occasion.
Tineghir is a lovely city that lies between the High Atlas mountains in the north and Jbel Saghro in the south; it comes alive on Mondays when the Berber souk is held, attracting people from all the villages in the surrounding mountains BUT you are most likely to stay here for the situation near the entrance to the amazing Todra Gorge. The gorge itself is a 30 minute short drive along the palm-lined valley so Tineghir is ideal for visiting the gorge. Majestic cliffs towering 300m are a worthy sight for any travellers passing this way for a hike, a half day visit or simply to stand and be amazed (you can get a drink and a snack, too) en route along the circuit of the south.
Tineghir also offers many cultural interests, such as the famous Jewish neighbourhood and the pottery of El Hart, the Afanour Mosque, the palm grove and El Khorbat with its Museum of Oasis. The city is built around a promontory dominated by the ruins of an old residence of Glaoui, which was a military outpost during the protectorate. The palmeraie, at 35 km, is full of small Ksours and Kasbahs. Walks on foot or by bike are offered to visitors, where they can discover community organisation, in terms of work in fields like water distribution.
Where to stay
The hotel offers a choice of troglodyte (cave) rooms, tented dwellings or the 'classic' rooms; there is a large pool and great Moroccan cuisine.
Surrounded by the Atlas Mountains and offering views of the Dades valley.
The Kasbah Itran overlooks the Dades Valley near Kelaa M'Gouna. It is a great value alternative place to stop en route between Ouarzazate and the desert further to the east.