The Cascades d’Ouzoud is the largest and most dramatic waterfall in Morocco. You may think, as a co-worker of mine did, that this isn’t saying a lot (Morocco isn’t generally associated with waterfalls). But that would be a mistake, as this is a waterfall worthy of attention anywhere in the world.
Our riad sits at the top of the falls, near enough that we can see the morning mist rising above the falls as we eat breakfast. From the door of our riad, we can go in either direction to actually view the falls itself. Because it is morning and because the path is obvious, we start on the east side of the falls. The sun will be shining on the falls from behind us – it should be beautiful!
A low bridge takes us over the stream that feeds the falls as it tumbles past our riad.
You can step into falls here, the shallow stream giving little hint of the sudden plunge it is about to take . . . until you get to the very edge.
This vantage also provides a spectacular view down the gorge to the mountains beyond.
The path along the east side of the canyon is high above the river, providing good views of both the falls and glowing green fields.
While it is a lovely path, you can’t get down to the water from this side. For that you have to go back past our riad, down the friendly café-lined streets, and follow the roadway to a path that will eventually lead to the falls. There are a variety of spots along the way where you can get a look – or at least a glimpse – of the falls and the surrounding hills.
The best “overlook” is practically under the falls itself.
Once you are in the gorge itself, the zigzagging pathway is lined with little shops and cafés. Most are closed today, as it is still early in the season, but a few are looking for business and as we continue toward the bottom of the falls I watch for the ideal combination of delicious-smelling tagine and great views of the falls.
Lonely Planet advises visitors to avoid all of these businesses – especially the restaurants – because they are an eyesore and contribute to the pollution and erosion along the river. I’m sure that is true, but some have stunning views of the falls and they provide a nice break in the long hike down and back up. I can imagine this place crowded with Moroccan families on a hot summer day. Wouldn’t it be better to help these businesses improve their practices to allow a safe mix of nature and commerce and provide a little something for everyone?
Besides, lunch at a table with a view of the falls sounds pretty ideal.
First though, we need to get all the way down to the bottom of the falls.
On a warmer day those boats would be really tempting, but right now lunch seems like a better idea.
We start back up the hill until we find a spot that seems to offer an appropriate mix of good food and stupendous views. Amazingly, we snag a table with a view and proceed to spend a couple of hours sitting there, enjoying lunch, relaxing, and just admiring the water.
It is a great way to spend an afternoon.
The Cascades d’Ouzoud is located about 90 miles northeast of Marrakech.