A very popular destination for both for tourists and Moroccans alike is the Ourika Valley, southeast of Marrakech. The some forty miles of road to the valley is bordered by gardens, palm and fruit trees, small villages, summer houses, as well as cafes and restaurants. Local people like to visit Ourika in summer when the air is cooler than in the city and the scenery lush and green. This is a time to sit by, or even at tables in the river itself, to enjoy the delicious tajines that have been slowly cooking on charcoal burners.
In the valley itself the Ourika river descends from the High Atlas, passing by Asguine, Aghbalou, Oulmes and finally the village of Setti Fatma from where it is possible to follow the course of the river via seven waterfalls. The wild life includes painted frogs, the Moorish gecko, falcons, the crimson winged finch, poplar trees and weeping willows.
The two main towns are Oukaimeden, a popular ski resort in winter, and Setti Fatma, best known for the seven waterfalls and the four-day moussem, or festival, in August. At Oukaimden there are beginner’s slopes as well as some black runs for advanced skiers. You can climb up the rocks along the side of the river and past the waterfalls or go for a trek into the hills.
The region is inhabited by Berber people who practice and traditional way of life and despite its proximity to Marrakech, it is still considered relatively unspoiled.