The Ounila is the verdant, narrow-sided river valley that runs between Ait Ben Haddou and Telouet, just south of the High Atlas mountains. There is plenty to discover in this beautiful Valley – by 4×4, by foot or by camel-back, depending on how much time you can dedicate.

The route of the Ounila Valley was part of the main caravan trade route to Marrakech, from sub-Saharan Africa, and the High Atlas were crossed at the Telouet Pass, beyond Telouet (centuries before the French constructed the road used today, across the Tichka Pass). Due to its pivotal location, it is unsurprising that a melting pot of cultures co-existed there centuries ago РBerber, Haratin, Jewish.

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The Valley is hemmed in by imposing sandstone cliffs and barren hillsides, and is peppered with typical pise-constructed dwellings and crumbling kasbahs (ksar). Aside from Ait Ben Haddou and Telouet, the Kasbah Tamdaght is worth a visit.

Caves (which are a network of ancient grain/cereal stores, or ‘greniers’) may be discovered in some of the cliff-faces. It is thought that the caves were originally used by semi-nomadic tribes, living in this arid region, to store their harvest in order to prepare for years with lower rainfall.

The contrast of colours is remarkable in the Spring, when the almond trees blossom, the fields and gardens are abundant, and the snow-capped mountains are visible in the distance. We recommend a night or two should be spent in the Ounila Valley as part of a trip to the Southern Oases and/or the Moroccan Sahara Desert. Please visit our Facebook page for more images of the Ounila Valley.

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