One of the most beautiful areas of Morocco is the Dades Valley. This region, sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of Morocco, is a wonderful place to explore!
Exploring the Beautiful Dades Valley
Imagine standing in the shadows near the bottom of a deep canyon. Below you, the clear, clean water of a river flows. Nearly black in the shadows, the water glistens wherever the sun touches it. Above and around you, multi-colored canyon walls reach up to the bright blue sky.
It’s hard to imagine that millions of years ago this land lay at the bottom of the sea. But now this canyon – Dades Valley (Also called Dades Gorges) – spends much of the year free from much water at all. The Dades River, responsible for cutting these canyon walls, seems more like a creek than a river at times during the dry season.
But when you see Dades Valley at the right time of year – when the storms come and snow melts off the High Atlas mountains, filling the river to full capacity that sweeps away all vegetation in its path – you can almost imagine that the sea has returned to claim it once again.
What might really surprise you is that Dades Valley is one of the many places you can explore when you visit Morocco.
Not Just Deserts and Camels
If you tend to picture Morocco as a country filled with walled cities, footpaths of sand, sweeping dunes, camel rides in the desert, and busy marketplaces filled with amazing Moroccan handicrafts of all varieties, you aren’t wrong.
But, Morocco is so much more than that. Morocco is around the size of California, in the United States, and it is every bit as geographically diverse. So, if you want a break from the desert and the dunes and the busy marketplaces, you just might find what you are looking for in Dades Valley.
The Enchanting Dades Valley
A valley filled with palm groves and oases – Dades is home to many small villages surrounded by lush growing land. Groves of figs, almonds, and walnuts grow here, as well as an abundant supply of the Damascus Rose, from which the craftspeople extract the rose oil for which this part of the country is known.
The Dades Valley is sometimes called The Land of a Thousand Kasbahs. And while there may not literally be a thousand of them, there are many stunning kasbahs in the area, built there because of the protection the valley offers.
The Valley is a place of beauty and natural wonder. But the most dramatic area to see is the Todra Gorge. Although there is a winding, treacherous-looking road that zig-zags through the gorge, if you truly want to appreciate the breathtaking beauty, a nice hike is the best way. There are many trails through the gorge that offer you stunning views of the colorful cliffs, towering rocks, and the way the shadows play on the rocks. In fact, seasoned travelers will tell you that the best time to hike through Todra Gorge is in the morning just as the sunlight is beginning to light up the floor of the canyon. And if you love your camera, Todra Gorge is a photographer’s dream location!
Things to Do in Dades Valley
When visiting Dades Valley, one of the best things to do is just relax and appreciate the beauty and splendor of this enchanting place. Spend time with the locals, enjoying the food and hospitality they offer. But as you wander, here are a few things you might enjoy:
Musee des Sources de Lalla Mimouna
This incredible private museum is the life’s work of Zaid Abbou from Tinejdad. Located at the springs of Lalla Mimouna, the small museum features artifacts of traditional Moroccan life collected for over 40 years. You’ll not only learn a lot, but you’ll also come away with a greater appreciation of human ingenuity.
Located in the oasis of Skoura, Kasbah Amridil is one of the most incredible kasbahs in Morocco. Built in the 17th century, this living museum will teach you much about traditional life in a kasbah. A place of great beauty, Kasbah Amridil was once featured on the 50 Dirham note.
Festival of the Roses
In the village of Kalaat M’gouna each spring, there is a three-day festival celebrating the beautiful Rose of Damascus, which grows abundantly in this area of the Dades Valley. Usually held in May (dates vary) at the end of the rose harvest, the festival includes singing, feasting, dancing, and a beauty pageant.
Rose Distillation Unit
Located in Kalaat M’Gouna, this cooperative of five farms processes the beautiful Damascas Roses that are grown in this area. They make rose oil and rosewater and then use them to make many other products like perfume and lotion that you can purchase in their shop.
Located in Auberge Royal Palmas, Berber Carpets is a cooperative where you can immerse yourself in the art of the beautiful handmade carpets of Morocco. Watch weavers working on the beautiful carpets that you can purchase for your own home. Carpets range from simple and inexpensive to elaborate creations that cost quite a bit more. But every carpet is unique, beautiful, and well worth the money!
Ksar El Khorbat in Tinejdad
This mid 19th century fortified village has been restored using traditional techniques. In addition to private homes, there is a museum, a women’s handcraft workshop, a guesthouse, and more. Consider spending a day here relaxing at the guesthouse.
Skoura Cultural Center
A wonderful place where locals sell handmade items, particularly made from palm fronds. You’ll find things like hats, mats, and baskets, all sustainably sourced from the local palm groves.
And if you happen to be in the area in September:
Three Day Marriage Festival
Share in the happiness as happy couples commit to each other during a three-day marriage festival in Imilchil, and add your blessings and hopes for them all to have long and happy lives together. What a great way to spend some vacation time!
Let Us Help You Plan Your Trip to Dades Valley
Here at Roaming Camels, we have a number of great tours across Morocco that include the Dades Valley. We are also always on hand to help you plan a custom tour personalized just for you. So if you’ve been dreaming of a Dades Valley vacation (or any other Moroccan adventure) be sure to contact us so we can help you plan your perfect vacation!