Tourism & travel, Leisure and well-being, About the city

Heading out for a hike 1/4: A walk in Talassemtane Park

NATURE Need a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery? The Chaouen region is known for its hiking. A bit of advice, think twice about heading out alone as you could easily get lost as the paths aren’t always clearly indicated.

Tips for a successful hike :

1.              Pack a bag: change of clothes, towel, basic toiletries, sunscreen, hat, torch, first-aid kit, sunglasses.

2.              Hiking boots

3.              Energetic snacks for the day (preferably dried sweets): dried fruit, dark chocolate, cereal bars, dates

4.              A camera

 

Three-day trek

Talassemtane Park has routes with lodging in gites along the way.   A regional program has been put in place to promote national parks and hiking trails.   So a list of gites are there to welcome visitors and at a modest price (approximately 150 dhs per night) and guides can stay and eat free.

The departure point is from the small village of Akchour, not far from the Pont de Dieu.   Heading towards Afaska, it will take approximately six to seven hours depending on your pace.  

In the middle of the day, plan an hour to 1.5 hours for a lunch break, to refesh, take off your shoes and put your feet in the water.   That is, if the river is high enough.   This path is quite difficult since it’s mostly uphill.  

You’ll arrive at the first stop at gite Chouihat Afasska in the heart of Talassemtane Park where a local family warmly invites guests into their home.    The lodge is decorated in colours of the region – azur blue.   Four rooms surround the communal area where you’ll be welcomed, each room sleeping three or four people.    And the hosts offer a variety of menus (depending on the day) and will be served at your convenience.

The next day you’ll wake up to breath-taking scenery, in the heart of the mountains, far from city life. After a local breakfast, the path takes you towards Taourat.   This route is easier, a bit less interesting, but the water runs along the path to refresh your walk.   You’ll need to plan for five to six hours for this part of the hike before arriving at your lodge in Taourat where network and hot water are not always guaranteed.

Once again the view of the mountains will take your breathe away, and don’t hesitate to stop for photos along the way. In the evening, the host will serve a tajine, aux chandelles, to share with you and your guide.

The return!

Last, but not least, the return from Taourat to Akchour, hikers cross many cut branches, dense and thorny paths, to end at a refreshing body of water.

Don’t be afraid to get wet or put your feet in the water. You’ll cross a small waterfall and then a larger one where locals tend to spend their Sundays, with a picnic.   After four or five hours of walking, you’ll be back at the original departure point.

What a relief!   Tired, blisters on your feet, aches everywhere, drained of any physical energy, but a feeling of accomplishment takes over. You’re ready for a hammam and ready to head back to the office.   And head back out again a few weeks later.

Text and photo Zineb Bennouna
Translation Mandy Sinclair