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The area around Agadir reveals another secret and wild facet: at a few sea gulls flights from the most famous beaches, one can discover new landscapes, for example, the Berber country of Immouzzer-des-Ida Outananes and the waterfalls of Paradise Valley.
Its real name being “Taghrat Ankrim”, this valley is a narrow green space following the Ankrim Wadi alongside the Honey Road. There, you will find abundant vegetation composed of palm trees, olive trees, banana and fig trees under which the inhabitants of the neighbouring douars do their annual plantations.
In the sixties, the valley was the rallying point of numerous hippies who thought this place was special. The nickname of “paradise” did not come from the generation “flower power” though but it seems to have been generated by a couple of German people who, when very sick, had come to this place and had left completely healed six months later; they, then, talked to many people about this ”Paradise” valley and so a legend was born….
It is a little haven of peace, far away from Agadir excitement and activity, which you can access from Aourir, where you need to take the road towards Immouzzer des Ida-Outananes.
From Aourir, the road passes through little mountains, along gorges and goes through the villages of Alma, Tamzergoute and Taghhzout n’Makhlouf. Argan trees, cactuses and pink laurels grow all along the wadi. Warm colours shimmer on the rocky slopes of the steep cliffs. It is possible in places, to stop along the road and bathe in water holes, waterfalls or natural jacuzzis where the water is clear and pure.
In the hot season, many ramblers stop there for the day. The road can be narrow at the bottom of the gorges and since last winter’s floods, the bridges are being rebuilt. The reconstruction work spoils the landscape somewhat but it should not last too long.
The first footpath, 26km from Aourir, is not very taxing and you have to reckon on 20 minutes before reaching the natural pools. Another access is via the mountain slope and another path starts at the bottom and goes through the palm grove along the wadi.
Small bamboo huts in the middle of the palm trees – one is on the top- welcome you: you can stop at Hussein’s where it is possible to enjoy some tea along with warm freshly baked home made bread from his Berber traditional earth oven: it is served with a very refined olive oil and with home made amlou. Hussein can also prepare a tagine – but only a vegetable tagine as no fridge means no meat! At the bottom of the palm grove another strange encounter awaits you: Ahmed who sculpts little people or animals in logs of thuja trees like water bearers, snakes, elephants… He works here beside the water under a palm tree and sells his objects in that very spot to the visitors of the valley.
Like most of the Berbers in the neighbouring villages, he likes his country and tries to preserve it: just like Rachid from the hotel Tifrit, he is a member of a local association which has about ten permanent members and whose aim is to protect the area and facilitate its social development. The members of the Ida Outananes’ tribe in the neighbouring villages try to remain in their country and sometimes have to make do with little jobs, like Ahmed the sculptor. Rachid, the main contact in the area and a staunch defender of the Berber culture, will give you all the information you need about the area and the places worth visiting.
Situated at the heart of a mosaic of rocks, of villages with baked earth huts, of palm groves, Paradise Valley offers to those who enjoy a rich and protected environment, an adventurous trail of discovery of flora and fauna as well as baths. In the oasis leading to the natural pools, portions of the palm grove are irrigated, cultivated and well maintained. Palm trees mix with olive trees, with fig trees, with pomegranate and banana trees and make for luxuriant vegetation. On the more arid cliffs, one can see carob trees, thujas and argan trees.
Big flat rocks come down from the mountain and water gets trapped in them forming waterfalls or natural pools: to the visitor, it makes for a complete change of scene!
Information and activities
There are about 25 km from Aourir to the start of the first footpath in Paradise Valley: there you will find an information panel in French and in English. There is also a car park. The second footpath is at about 5 km further on and then two other accesses to the valley before coming to Tifrit.
From Aourir to Imouzzer there are 52 km.
From Essaouira, take Agadir coastal road: the journey to Aourir will take about 2 hours and thirty minutes and the return can be done on the same day. You may come back from Imouzzer via the dam of Moulay Abdellah: the newly opened road meanders through the mountain and passes along the wadi where many small Berber traditional villages can be seen: it is a detour well worth the extra time!
In the village of Asqri, at 33km from Agadir, a tarred track on your right leads to the village of Tizgui and to its magnificent palm grove in the valley. From Tizgui, it is possible to trek towards Paradise Valley as all valleys communicate.
There are numerous activities: walking or mule trekking, discovery of rural life, ecotourism, geology and rural heritage, bathing and relaxing, discovery of History through the visits of villages, of the Agadir and of the oil press…..
Collective loft or “Agadir”
You could visit the Agadir Ighargharene of Asqri: in spite of its name, a collective loft does not mean that the harvest of the whole village is put together in one place. In fact, it consists in a series of individual huts belonging to the village’s heads of families that are gathered together in one building and which are guarded by the community. It can be a place for storing food or precious objects; sometimes they harbour bee hives or water tanks. It is the most protected place in several villages in the Souss area.
This is why it is often called the fort loft. There is a lovely Agadir which stands over Tifrit small palm grove at the foot of the hotel of the same name.
The local architecture can be admired in each village: houses are built with local material like dry stones, pise or baked earth or even traditional bricks. They look very sober and the small moucharabieh windows in the walls are just like the doors: very discreet so that the privacy of the family is well guarded.
The rural souks
The souks are genuine shop windows for the display of the richness of the natural heritage and they are truly attractive for rural tourism: like the Khemis Imouzzer souk on Thursdays where one can find honey, amlou, carob, argan, almonds, stones and crystals, the whole area being famous for its ammonite. In August, a very big honey festival gathers all the bee keepers who bring in all the different varieties of honey made by the Ida Outanane.