Top places to hit up south of Fès
Whilst Fes makes a great city break away for Europeans with the easy-access of no-frill flights coming into the nearby airport, I really wanted to see what the Moroccan countryside would be like. Managing to secure a vehicle with local tour company Mint Tea Tours, I asked the owner if I could see the famous Barbary macaque which live in the nearby Middle-Atlas Mountains. Jamal said it wasn’t a problem and he would also take me to other nearby sights as well to make it a fun filled action-packed day and one I would never forget. So here are some of the sites I recommend visitors to Morocco’s third largest city to go out and explore.
Sefrou is a small town located south of Fes and is surrounded by beautiful hills and trees. The first stop on my day trip, Jamal took me to the western outskirts of the town to check out the amazing waterfall. To be honest when he told me about it before I arrived at the destination, Jamal down-played it and didn’t want me to be downhearted when seeing it. So before I arrived I was kinda expecting a small waterfall in a barren rocky land but when I approached the falls from the viewpoint, this was totally not what I was expecting. Fast flowing waterfall from the hillside crashing down into the river below, I managed to capture a wonderful natural sight which I didn’t think was possible in Morocco. Throughout the day I was discovering that Morocco wasn’t all sand and rock and that there were lots of green forests and rivers/lakes to check out.
On the way to the next destination, I stopped off quickly to check out the landscape in this area and saw lakes, plenty of turkeys, farms which harvested onions and stored them outside in an unique way and meet some local people known as Berbers which are unique to North Africa.
The next town we (Jamal and I) stopped off was Ifrane which is a town in Africa I have never come across before. It was a typical European town based on a Swiss design. It was winter when we came here but there was no snow on the ground but walking around the town, it really did feel like I was walking in a ski resort of Santa-Fees or Zermatt back in Switzerland. This made a great pit stop to buy food, collect some cash and walk along the wide boulevards but the town is also known for the sculpture of the lion in a central park. Sculptured by an Italian prisoner who was banged up in prison many moons ago, he made this lion out of limestone found in the local area. The story behind why this lion was sculptured has a few versions but what we were amazed to find out was that this part of Africa did have lions known as the Atlas Lions (as us British call them) but these days Morocco doesn’t have any wild lions which want to terrorise the streets of Marrakech and Rabat. It is a feel shame, did they did out? I don’t know for sure but I would have loved to seen lions in the wild north of the Sahara.
Finally arriving in the mountains, I saw the amazing Barbary macaque. They were everywhere, running around the nearby car park, jumping up and down from trees, on the ground waiting for food. Jamal taught me some tricks on how to give the macaque water but even better was, before we arrived here we stopped off at a market stall to buy a kilo of bananas (while all the other people were feeding the monkeys peanuts) and when we were feeding them, we had quite a lot of friendly faces trying to grab the bananas out of our hands. Even the godfather (the master of the group) trying to get first priority on eating the bananas. After a while (and seeing a few family feuds between the furry creatures), it was time to move on.
The town of Azrou was our final major stop where we had a late lunch but the views from this mountain side town of the valleys below were amazing and we managed to check out a very pretty mosque. For lunch we had to buy our meat from the nearby butchers and take it to the restaurant to be cooked (which despite paying for the meat made the meal a lot cheaper but we still gave the cook a tip because it tasted mighty dam fine).
On the way back I managed to see another beautiful lake, this time the lake known as Auoa (name after the Spanish word for water) which meant I had a peaceful end to the day trip, just seeing the calm water with blue skies from above. With hardly a soul to be seen and a few birds nearby making a calling, this is what I loved most about Morocco. To get away from the hustle and bustle of the major cities and to check out the local way of life in villages, in the mountains, by the lakeside and see the backbone of the country. I had a truly amazing day out away from Fes and I recommend anyone to check out these sights.
MINT TEA TOURS
I traveled to the places of interest mentioned in this post with Mint Tea Tours who are based in Fes, Morocco who provide private tours, excursions and shuttle services. As my trip was booked at the last minute and I really wanted to see the monkeys located in the mid-Atlas mountains, I was really fortunate to be passed onto the tour company ran by Jamal and Ellen. Even better was the fact the company has a wide range of vehicles to choose from with comfortable legroom, comfortable seats and air conditioning for the warm weather whilst all their drivers are multilingual. For this trip I had Jamal who got me from A to B very safely and his knowledge of the country, the products, the history of the area is immense, very passionate about his country and his business. For me, this has to be one of the best tour companies I have come across, used and would recommend them whilst visiting the North African country. Mint Tea Tours also help visitors plan their tours from anywhere in Morocco, not just Fes and can be contacted via their website HERE. (My opinion of Mint Tea Tours is honest and I did not receive any sort of sponsorship. I paid to use their services and I can honestly say they were that good I had to mention them. Jamal’s honesty and help went along way to make my visit to Fes a very memorable one).
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