The Ourika valley day trip from Marrakech departs daily.
There is a choice between shared group trips and private trips.
A group Ourika valley day trip includes an in vehicle guide to show you the area, as well as a driver. A group day trip helps you to save money by travelling together with other people on pre-arranged trips. The vehicles used for shared group trips are usually 16 seat modern and air conditioned Minibuses, with a driver. The group trips usually pick you up from your Marrakech Hotel at around 9am.
A private Ourika Valley day trip allow you more freedom to enjoy the day on your own schedule. With a private trip, you can choose exactly where you stop to visit in the valley and how long you stay at Setti Fatma, during the excursion duration. The other advantage to private trips is that the vehicle and the driver are for your exclusive use for the whole day. The vehicles used for the private Ourika valley day trip is varied according to the number of people you book for. The vehicles are modern and air conditioned 4×4 vehicles or, if you are a larger group, a modern Minibus, with air conditioning.
A private Ourika valley day trip also allow you to select your ideal start time. So, if you would like to start your excursion earlier or later than the 9am usual start, this is possible.
The Ourika valley is located approx 30 to 40 minutes drive from Marrakech.
Travelling towards the Atlas Mountains, the valley starts in the rural countryside and heads towards Setti Fatma, in the mid of the Atlas Mountains.
At Setti Fatma, you can find the 7 cascades, small waterfalls which are reached by a 20 minute uphill walk. The cascades themselves, whilst having a lot of history attached to them, are small and, during the winter season are sometimes frozen.
Most visitors to Morocco find driving in Marrakech confusing due to the heavy traffic of the city. However, once you escape from the city centre and head out to the countryside, the driving becomes easier, but you still have to pay close attention to the roads.
Pay attention on the roads
Throughout the rural area surrounding Marrakech, the roads are rather straight and direct, until you reach the Atlas Mountains where they are narrow and winding. Paying attention on the roads is paramount, watching out for children and families who walk at the side of the roads and animals (such as Donkeys and their carts) who also can be seen along the roads regularly.
Heavy and large vehicles are usual along Morocco’s rural roads, and usually either travel at slow speeds or surge ahead. Overtaking can be dangerous, and other traffic will want to pass you at faster speeds too. Driving on Moroccan roads is not the faint hearted, without experience.
There are public buses which depart from Marrakech to Setti fatma. The price is reportedly 50 dirham per person.
Alternatively, you can take seats in a shared Grande taxi (or hire the entire taxi of 6 seats), probably for about the same per person price as the bus.
Remember, however, planning is key if you are going to take the public bus. Be totally sure that you know the exact departure times from Setti Fatma to get back to Marrakech, else you may have to accept a more costly option of return, than you anticipated.
Whilst the bus seems to be a lower price option, the opportunities are fewer than if you take an organised excursion. The bus would take you directly to Setti Fatma. Whilst you pass through the rest of the valley, you can’t easily get off and explore at different places you see en route, which you could if you take an organised excursion.
At Setti fatma, there are 7 cascades. The first 2 cascades are easily reachable by a quick walk uphill. Both of these falls are small, but still worth it in the summertime.
To get to the other 5 Waterfalls, you probably should hire a local guide to escort you, show you the safest routes (which sometimes include climbing over rocks and crossing seemingly rickety wooden bridges) and of course, to ensure that you get back down from the highest point safely, before sunset.
A local guide, which can be hired at Setti fatma would most likely cost about 50.00 Dirham per person, depending upon how many people are in your group.
Food at Setti Fatma
There are many Cafe’s at Setti Fatma where you can purchase lunch. The Cafe’s do tend to adopt tourist prices….basic meal offerings for a higher price than you would expect.
However, the setting of being besides and overlooking the River in the countryside perhaps makes it all worth while on a nice sunny day.
Alternatively, you could purchase Bread, Cheese,Boiled eggs, crisps etc, from a supermarket in Marrakech and take a Picnic to enjoy by the river.
Ourika valley also offers other options for food. Once you escape from the tourist trap type food prices of Setti fatma, there are a range of restaurants along the Route to Ourika which may offer you greater value for money.
Other options for sightseeing in the Ourika valley include a visit to an Argan Oil community co-operative, to see the production of Moroccan Argan oil products.