The imposing Ouzoud waterfalls are one of the most awe-inspiring natural sights you’ll come across in Morocco. Unfortunately, the location is a bit off the beaten track, but you can get there on a day trip from Marrakech. This article explains everything you need to know about a day trip to the Ouzoud Falls.
The famous Ouzoud Falls are located on the edge of the Atlas Mountains. They’re among the most popular places to photograph in Morocco. This isn’t surprising, because experiencing Oued River thundering down over a hundred meters into the depths is truly breath-taking. That’s not all, because Ouzoud is also famous for the Barbary apes who live in this valley, rounding off the spectacular scenery in a rather surreal manner.
The waterfalls provide a great contrast if you’re spending the majority your holiday in Marrakech or in other cities. You can easily spend more at the falls time or just visit on a day trip.
The imposing Ouzoud Falls are the greatest falls in Morocco
What will you see and experience at the Ouzoud Falls?
A journey to Ouzoud usually ends in the large car park above the falls. There, you’ll find guides waiting for newcomers, offering guided tours down to the waterfalls. The prices are relatively high (about 150 DH). However, you guide will take you on a different route to the foot of the Ouzoud falls. On the way, you’ll pass several hidden vantage points, with the opportunity to take some superb pictures.
From the car park, you can’t miss the main path to the waterfalls. In fact, you’ll see it from the souvenir shops, food stalls, cafes and little restaurants that line the paved path leading down to the foot of the great waterfall. The restaurants are better than you’d expect. In addition, the view from the terraces is absolutely unbeatable.
Barbary macaques and the waterfall close up
On the way down to the foot of the falls, you’re bound to meet the Barbary apes. They’re actually macaques and are agile, really cute and pretty sly. Over the years, they’ve learned not to fear man. Since some of them are really bold, you need to watch your belongings.
Barbary apes at the Ouzoud Waterfalls
Going down the path to the falls takes less than ten minutes. At the bottom, you’ll have a great view of the imposing waterfall. You’ll see Moroccans waiting with little boats and they’ll escort you behind the waterfall for a small tip (10-20 DH). The constant thunder of the water is a truly spectacular background noise. Be warned, you can get a bit wet on this little detour. That’s why it’s advisable to leave cameras, mobile phones and other delicate, moisture-sensitive items in a safe place on the shore.
Swimming and hiking
The Ouzoud Falls are a popular bathing spot. Many people cool off here by swimming in the pools. However, since everyone who comes to Ouzoud visits the falls, there’s quite a lot of hustle and bustle. If you prefer a more tranquil experience, head to the smaller waterfalls downstream.
A ferryman at the foot of Ouzoud Falls
For a tip, you can cross over to the opposite bank of the Oued. You’ll find a narrow path along the river and this gradually leads you deeper into the valley. At the start, you’ll see a few little makeshift cafes, but you’ll soon find yourself alone. The cascades of the river form natural swimming pools and are ideal for swimming.
The path continues on through a really stunning landscape. At some point, you can turn back and return. Alternatively, cross to the other riverbank and carry on for a few more kilometers. On your return journey, you can choose either of the two banks. If you’ve taken the path to Ouzoud, you’ll definitely go down into the valley for a while and this is very worthwhile.
How do you get to the Ouzoud Waterfalls?
Unlike other destinations in the Marrakech area, the Ouzoud Waterfalls are relatively remote for a day trip. By car, it will take you about three hours each way. There’s no direct bus route. All in all, there are four ways to get from Marrakech to Ouzoud. You can take the bus and a taxi, hire a car, go in your own private Grand Taxi or go on a group tour.
Hiring a rental car or using your own car
Travelling by car will take you about three hours and the various routes from Marrakech to the Ouzoud falls are around 150 – 190km. For example, you can drive on the N8 towards Benni-Mellal, which branches off after about 145km to the P3105 towards Aït Attab. This is a longer route. Another option is to follow the N8 and turn off on the R307 after about 120km. Follow this road until you reach the R304 towards Azilal, then take the P3105 to Ouzoud. However, the quickest way from Marrakech to Ouzoud is via the N8 and R208.
How to get from Marrakech to Ouzoud by car
By bus and Grand Taxi
Since there’s no direct bus service from Marrakech to Ouzoud, travelling by public transport or taxi can be a little more complicated than you’d expect in Morocco. It’s true to say that the Ouzoud waterfalls are very remote.
To get there, you’ll need to take a bus to either Beni-Mellal or Azilal. Buses run by private companies are cheaper and depart from Gare Routière near Bab Doukkala in Marrakech. Speak to the bus driver or the assistant in charge of luggage as soon as you can and explain where you actually want to go. The bus will then stop at the junction with the P3105. There, you’ll find a little square where the Grand Taxis stop. From there, you can travel on to Ouzoud.
The valley below the Ouzoud Falls is ideal for hiking
On your return trip, take a taxi from Ouzoud to the same place. You’ll then have to wait for a bus. To avoid a long wait, ask one of the riads in Ouzoud for the current bus timetable. The bus ride costs about 50 DH and a taxi is about the same.
The journey by bus and taxi definitely takes the longest. You might also find it hard to work out which bus to catch to travel back to Marrakech. To make the whole trip worthwhile, I would definitely recommend spending the night in Ouzoud. You can use the time during the day to go on a longer hike. You’ll get more out of this than going back the same day.
Travelling by Grand Taxi
Of course, the least stressful option is to take the easy route and book a private Grand Taxi for the entire journey to Ouzoud. This is probably the fastest way to get to the Ouzoud Waterfalls. However, it’s also the most expensive. Depending on your negotiating skills and finances, I’d expect a one-way journey to Ouzoud to cost at least 600 DH.
In Marrakech, the Grand Taxis going in this direction will be waiting between the Gare Routière and the city walls at Bab Doukkala.
Joining a group tour
Many travel agencies offer day trips from Marrakech to Ouzoud. These tours are usually by minibus. The trip doesn’t usually include a guide or any food and you just pay for the round trip. However, unlike travelling by your own means, it’s a time-efficient way of going on a day trip to the Ouzoud Waterfalls.
If you join one of these tours, I’d recommend finding out what time the minibus will be leaving to go home and then making your own way to the falls. It’s easy to explore the area on your own. Day trips to Ouzoud start at around 25 EUR per person.
|Marrakesh Travel Services
|transfer only, group tour
|transfer only, group tour
|transfer only, group tour
|Price 1 person
Staying in Ouzoud
If you travel by public transport or car to Ouzoud, you should make the effort to spend the night here. With a little more time, you’ll be able to explore the area properly. I recommend trying to get to Ouzoud as early as possible and then going on a long hike as soon as you arrive.
In the early morning and late in the afternoon, there’s far less hustle and bustle at the viewpoints and the whole place is calmer. My tip for a place to stay is the beautiful Riad Cascade d’Ouzoud. It’s located right on the main square above the waterfalls. The village also offers other accommodation options.
Conclusion: Rainbows, Barbary apes, waterfalls
Although the Ouzoud Falls are quite a distance from Marrakech and you’ll need to sit in the car for a long time to experience this attraction first hand, the experience is worth every tedious moment of the journey. My highlights from the trip include seeing a rainbow over the gigantic falls, hiking in the valley and, of course, encountering the free-roaming Barbary apes. As a destination, the Ouzoud Falls offer a wonderful contrast to the busy medina of Marrakech.
(all photos: Travelguide Marrakech)