Ourika Valley: The Complete Travel Guide

Last Updated on June 25, 2024 by Safaa (founder of moroccanzest)
ourika valley morocco panoramic view of atlas mountains

Ourika Valley: The Complete Travel Guide

The Ourika Valley is among the most visited High Atlas sights. It is most appreciated by nature lovers and people looking to immerse in the local Berber life of simple living. 

Located only 30 kilometers south of Marrakech, Ourika Valley is part of the High Atlas in Morocco. Several Berber communities surround the Ourika Valley, and visitors and residents swarm there for its untouched environment and traditional way of life.

ourika valley morocco panoramic view of atlas mountains

Ourika Valley Morocco – Panoramic view

History

Ourika originates from Urika, the name of one of the Berber tribes that descended from the dynasty of Almohad. Berbers have occupied the valley throughout history. The local people speak Tachelhit, a local Berber dialect.

Geography

The Ourika valley, perched at 1500 meters, is located on the foothills of the spectacular range of Morocco’s High Atlas mountains. The valley stretches 43 miles (70 kilometers) from Marrakech to Setti Fatma’s hamlet.

atlas mountain map

Ourika Valley Weather

Climate-wise, the Ourika Valley is milder than Marrakech, known for being hot during the summer. As you climb, the air gets more breathable— 59 °F  or 16 °C below Marrakech. Marrakech locals often like to escape to the Ourika Valley during the hot months to refresh and enjoy the lovely breeze and greenery of the valley.

Nature is especially plentiful after the rainy season. During this year, the valley is beautifully lush, and you can find plenty of olive, cherry, and almond trees. You can imagine the beauty of the place when it’s blooming!

atlas mountain landscape nature

What to See and Do In The Ourika Valley?

On your way to the Valley of Ourika, ascending the approximately 6890 feet (2100 meters) altitude, you will come across abandoned towns and other lively villages vibrant with authentic Berber tribal life. Here are the main things to see and do in the Ourika Valley:

1. Visit The Berber Eco-museum of the Ourika Valley

The Berber ecomuseum is located in the rural village of Tafza. Historical photographs, traditional costumes, rugs, authentic Berber jewelry, and artisanal pottery are displayed in a way that depicts how Berber Amazigh women of the rural villages live daily. It’s very refreshing and inspiring, and thousands of miles away from our modern ways of life. Visiting these museums always brings me a new perspective on life and humanity. 

You can join many trails from the museum that will take you to the beautiful Ourika rivers and Ourika waterfalls.

ourika valley atlas mountains musee berbere

2. Visit La Safraniee de l’Ourika

Saffron, called Moroccan red gold, is grown in the Ourika valley. If you like using this spice in your cooking and enjoy its numerous health benefits, I highly recommend visiting La Safraniere de l’Ourika, Ourika’s main saffron-producing farm. It is located approximately 30 miles from Marrakech in the town of Tnin, and the best time to visit is during the fall season, as this spice is harvested between October and mid-November. If you are staying outside this window, you can still enjoy the greenery of this farm and buy its saffron products all year long.

saffron field ourika valley safraniere

Saffron picking at la Safraniere Ourika

3. Visit The Beautiful Timalizene Garden – Jardin Des Delices

The Timalizene Garden, a beautiful mountain garden called Jardin Des Delices (Garden of Pleasures), is located at the same-named douar Timalizene. Here, you will discover Moroccan aromatic plants, appreciate their smells, and learn more about their cultivation. If you’re a nature or herb lover like me, this place will feel like heaven!

4. Visit Ourika’s Bio-Aromatic Garden

The Ourika Bio-Aromatic Garden is another beautiful garden located in rural Douar Elhadad, and is a necessary stop for anyone who enjoys medicinal plants. It has various essences, aromatic species, and herb species. This is the proper area if you search for medicinal herbs for great health. Moroccan cuisine relies heavily on herbs and spices, so this is also a perfect stop if you want to learn more about Moroccan cooking. You can visit all year, but the best season for the greenery is from March to early July.

ourika valley bio aromatic garden

5. Visit the Picturesque Setti Fatma Village and the Seven Waterfalls

Setti Fatma settlement touches the clouds at approximately 4921 feet (1500 meters) above sea level and offers outstanding landscapes featuring greenery and beautiful villages nestled in the mountains. I highly recommend a refreshing hike (the weather is charming) and visiting the seven surrounding setti fatma waterfalls.

The Berber village of Setti Fatma, Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The Berber village of Sti Fadma, also known as Setti Fatma, is situated in Ourika Valley, near the seven waterfalls, in the Southern Atlas Mountains, Morocco.

How To Get to the Valley of Ourika from Marrakech?

The distance from Ourika Valley Marrakech is around 25 miles (40 kilometers). Trip time can take a couple of hours as the road goes through the mountains, and speed is limited most of the time. 

1. Get to The Ourika Valley By Car

For people who don’t know the region, I recommend hiring a driver through car rental to get to the valley. The road is not the easiest to get through and a little help from a professional will allow you to enjoy your trip without stress. 

2. Get to the Valley of Ourika By Taxi

You can take a taxi to the Ourika Valley. However, this isn’t my favorite way to get there, as taxi drivers can be very speedy and stressful. If speed doesn’t bring you anxiety – lucky you! – I recommend bargaining over the cost before getting on the taxi, as you can save greatly this way.

3. Go to Ourika By Public Transportation (Bus)

Public transit also takes you to the village of Tnine mentioned earlier. From there, you can take a taxi to Setti Fatma.

A Few Tips When Visiting the Ourika Valley

To get the most out of the region, hire a certified guide. You will enjoy your visit to the fullest and navigate the area safely, and to be honest, prices are still very reasonable. 

If you are on a budget, you can opt for group tours. If you can afford the small splurge, I recommend a private tour to get the guide’s full attention and a custom tour designed to your needs.

Bring comfy, breathable clothes, a light jacket for chillier hours, a swimsuit, decent hiking shoes, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a bottle of water, and snacks.

If you are in Marrakech and want to explore the Ourika Valley and get the most out of it through a custom private tour, I recommend this Ourika valley tour with a local guide—Omar—for a unique, unforgettable, and inspiring experience! Pick-up can be at the airport or your hotel anywhere in the Marrakech region. I can’t wait to tour the Ourika Valley region again. It’s one of those places that you will never forget.

Safaa, founder of moroccanzest

From design and decor to food and travel, moroccanzest is the space where I share what I loved growing up in Morocco, and more. It’s your destination for everything beautiful, artistic, and made the Moroccan way with love. Learn more about me here.