We arrived in Ouzoud on Tuesday after a rather strange journey. We just got a seat got on the packed bus for Azilal at 8.3à in the morning and squeezed onto the back row, where I sat next to a french girl who was the only women on the bus - apart from me - not wearing the hijab, and Marc sat next to a Moroccan lady with a baby on her lap which kept throwing up. We were planning to go to Azilal and try to find a grand taxi to take us to Ouzoud as there are no buses, but we mentioned to the condutor that we were heading to the Cascades and he unceremoniously kicked us off the bus in the middle of nowhere and said "Ouzoud here", in glorious denial of the sign which said "Ouzoud 16km". It was all ok however as we and a middle aged french tourist who was also on the bus banded together to form a confused group, and then stood by the roadside in the sun with a group of locals for 20 minutes while two cars pulled up and some sort of official made us all move our bags around
from one to the other before finally urging Marc and three other men into the back of an ancient Mercedes while I shared the front seat with the only other woman (also in hijab). The driver was the only one with an actual seat and after several tries succeeded in starting the car. We drove a few hundred metres and navigated a herd of goats then the driver got a text message and stopped the car to read it, before suddenly putting the car in reverse and backing up almost to where we started where a friend of his, presumably the sender of the text was waiting. They had a chat for a bit, shouting through the wiondows in Arabic (none of which I understood... I can read the written signs and understand quite a lot, but don't understand Moroccan spoken Arabic at all!) and then we were finally able to proceed on our way. I loved every second of it, the countryside around Ouzoud is beautiful, and although we weren't (thank god) driving on the mountain passes it was a wondeful feeling being packed like sardines in a crazy old taxi bowling along in the sun with no idea
where we were going.
Les Cascades d'Ouzoud are one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, well worth the trouble of getting there and the complete lack of any means of getting away again!
We were originally planning to stay for just one night, or maybe do a day trip; but after the first day where we walked down the hundreds of steps and saw the waterfall and swam in the pool I was determined to stay another day, and although our room was sweltering again (I cannot understand why nowhere has fans in this climate) I convinced Marc to stay another night so we could have a full day to walk down river. It is definately the nicest place we've been in Morocco, and probably one of my favourite places in the world. It's also the 4th waterfall I've swum in this summer, though it puts the others to shame. I might challenge myself to visit as many as I can before next Autumn!
Suprisingly, given how beautiful it is, there were hardly any tourists, and apart from the little local boys who spend all day climing up the cliffs to a little cave about 40 feet up
and then jumping into the pool we felt like we were almost the only people there. Down the river there are hundreds of smaller waterfalls where the river runs doan into the gorge, and there are natural pools perfect for swimming in all the way down, and lots of campsites on the hillsides where you can get amazing chicken tagines which have been stewing over hot coals all day and are unbelievably tender.
We found an amazingly beautiful pool with a relatively big waterfall to swim in, an hours walk from the main falls, and a Belgian couple from our hotel were already there swimming. We joined them and while I swam Marc chatted to the woman, Natalie. He mentioned we didn't know where to go next and asked if she could recommend anywhere and she told us they were heading to Meknes, and as they had hired a car they had two spare seats so we could come along with them if we wanted to.
We ended up leaving with them yesterday morning, and driving for 6 hours along the side of the Atlas mountians. It was nice to travel in style and it was a breath-taking drive, beginning
in the mountains and driving along the passes with lethel vertical cliffs by the side of the narrow hairpin roads, and amazing views over the mountians and valleys.
We met up with them last night and shared a bottle of wine they had managed to get hold of on the terrace and had a really nice conversation for a couple of hours. We're off to Fes this afternoon, as we really wanted to see it but didn't think we'd get the chance, as it takes 9 hours to go by coach from Marrakech, but they're driving back along the coast on Sunday, and stopping at some of the more interesting coastal sights along the way, so they've offered us a lift back to Essaouira from where we can get the bus back to Marrakech in time for our flight home. We may well take them up on it as it would be another amazing drive, and would mean we had seen almost all of central Morocco as well as the Atlantic coast.
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