Edit Blog Post
Published: July 14th 2009
Stay in one of the neighboring towns, not here.
A wealthy town in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, Azilal is not just a good base for reaching M'Goun and Cascades Ouzoud; it is also a pleasant and at times surreal hideaway from the heat, the harassment, and the rip offs. Stock up on food here for any treks, as the costs double or triple in the mountains. A pack of stray dogs in the town for some reason walks directly down the middle of the road in the evenings. People honk and make half-hearted attempts to avoid them, but many of the dogs are maimed from being hit. I heard two get run over in one night.
You should definitely head this way. Despite my upcoming criticisms of Tabant and some of the hotels in the region, this was my favorite part of Morocco. Happy Valley was sublime, and if you have the equipment, a trek to M'Goun is highly recommended (see photos below).
We stayed at Hotel Dades the first night. It wasn't too awful, but the toilets stunk quite a bit and the rooms were hot, especially for how cool it was outside. We paid 28 dirhams apiece, so we couldn't complain much.
Mohammed and his crew were nice enough to hang goat brains to dry in the sun outside our door.
When we returned from our trek, we decided on an expanded search. Hotel Souss has a nice hot shower for an extra ten dirhams, but the toilets were separate from the rooms, and all of the squat variety. We opted instead for Hotel Assounfrau (in the newer area of town) which was comfortable and clean. At 50 apiece, it was a bit pricier, but it provided a much needed rest.
From the Azilal bus station, it is easy to catch a van to Agouti/Tabant/Imelghas. Arrive at around 9 AM and expect to pay 35 dirhams to be squeezed into a van and perhaps sit on stools in the aisle. Grand taxis also make the trip for around the same price. The journey lasts around three hours and the mountain passes can be terrifying, depending on the driver.
Do not get dropped off in Tabant. It's horrendous. Trash is everywhere and the town is essentially an outdoor slaughterhouse. Men push goat carcasses through the streets in wheelbarrows and there are feet and other pieces of animals in the streets. Above the town is an animal market where locals purchase animals and then slaughter them in plain view. There aren't
Me and Mountains
After the worst shower of my life, I still felt a bit better knowing I would be in the mountains by the next day.
any real shops in town (or in any of these towns, for that matter), and there is only one gite as far as I could tell. Lonely Planet contends that Mohammed's place is clean, but it was definitely the worst place I have ever stayed. The real toilet didn't flush and the squat toilets were filthy. The showers appeared to have never been cleaned and the cold water was barely a trickle. The rooms were stuffy and the thin, ancient, musty mattresses were on the floor, lined next to others. We all slept on the terrace instead. LP also describes the tagine there as being delicious, but it was only adequate.
Instead, get off in Agouti, or even better, in Imelghas. There were plenty of well-kempt gites there, and Imelghas provides wonderful access to the valley (see photos).
The trek toward M'Goun begins in Agouti.
Once we got out of Tabant, this was perhaps my favorite part of Morocco. To be fair, Tabant is more of a trade center for the smaller surrounding communities and isn't trying to be much else. Once in the happy valley or on the trails to M'Goun, one is surrounded by lush
Walking through this beautiful valley was one of the best walks ever.
vegetation, pyramid shaped hills and friendly people who are living much the same as they were 200, and in some ways 2000 years ago.
There are more photos below.
Tot: 2.928s; Tpl: 0.052s; cc: 16; qc: 79; dbt: 0.0562s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb