Dades Valley is the main route stretching between the great Sahara Desert and the ancient trading oases of the Tafilalet region. The valley is filled with palm groves, gorges, and elaborate ancient kasbahs. The river Dades flows through valley, making it lush with greenery. The dramatic gorges of Dades was carved out by this river that originates in the High Atlas Mountains and flows southwest before emptying into the Draa River at the edge of Sahara.
Millions of years ago, this valley was the bed of a deep sea which ebbed away to reveal the rock formations. Large quantity deposits of sediments were found around the giant coral reefs that are now compacted into a variety of sedimentary rocks such as sandstone and limestone.
The valley is popularly known as the “Land of a Thousand Kasbahs”. The most impressive kasbah that gravitates many tourists to the region is the kasbah Amridil, which is located an hour away from the valley, in the Skoura palm groves. The kasbah was created in 17th century and was restored to almost its original form, offering an escape from the present and into the past of the region. The kasbah is an important monument of the kingdom. You will find it on the 50Dhm note as well.
Things to Do in Dades Valley
The panoramic view of the valley invites quite a generous number of tourists to the place. Stretched from the High Atlas Mountains in the north to the Jbel Sarho in the south, the flora and fauna, rock formations, gorges, river, kasbahs, and verdant palm groves offer a pleasant escape from the heat of Sahara Desert. Exploring the valley offers many historical insights about the place, whether it is about sea that ebbed away or the kasbahs that were built to protect the valley from invasion.
The Dades Gorges commence from north of the Boumalne du Dades town. A wabbly road swirls you from the town to the gorges. While, most tourists restrict their exploration till the road, the best views remain hidden until you set out on foot and discover the rock formations more closely.
There are many hidden canyons strewn into the gorges. One of the most famous one is called the Gorge de Miguirne. There are rock poles and swimming pools near this canyon where you can take a dip and relax for a while.
Explore Fossils, Rock Formations, and Valley of Human Bodies
However odd it may sound, exploring through different types and sizes of rocks in Dades Valley is an experience that is hard to find elsewhere. Once submerged into a deep sea, the place is full remnants, deposits, rocks, and fossils that date back to hundreds of millions of years ago.
At the very start of the valley, there are geological formations referred to as Monkey Feet and Monkey Toes. These formations earn the bizarre moniker from their inexplicable wind-worn silhouette.
A little farther from the Monkey Feet formation is yet another valley known as the “Valley of Human Bodies”. Many famished travelers have died there of hunger and turned into stones, thus earning the valley this grave name.
The high mountains and other geological formations house many fossils, especially those of trilobite – an arthropod that survived for eons before getting extinct by the end of Permian Period. Other than the fossils, you will find small rocks with many fossil graphic prints that are every bit as fascinating. To be standing on the rocky land and wondering it was once the floor of a deep sea is truly exciting.
Saunter Around Sightseeing the Kasbahs of the Valley
Popularly referred to as the Land of a Thousand Kasbahs, Dades Valley is a home to many ancient buildings that were built to protect the valley against invasion. These pinkish square houses create a picturesque contrast against the green river bed and brown bare hills. Many of these houses were built in 12th century and still stand strong, while others are crumbling down under the weight of time. Either way these small fortresses serve as a window for the visitors who want to sneak into the ancient past of Moroccan lifestyle.
The most famous kasbah is Kasbah Amridil, which is located in Skoura. It can be recognized from its print on the 50Dhm note and the movie Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves.
Located just 48 minutes away from the Dades Valley is the Todgha Gorges that were carved by the both Todgha and neighboring Dades Rivers. This wadi is a series of limestone river canyons that are flanked by as much as 400-meter high walls.
Todgha Gorges offer a hundred hiking trails to set your foot on and get indulged in the extreme sport. Towering the hiking trail are the splendid pink cliffs that are tinted green and gold. Stretched across approximately 1,000 feet above, these cliffs create a stunning panoramic view.
Oasis of 1000 Palms – Skoura Palmeraie
About an hour and half away from the Dades Valley is the vast UNESCO-protected palmeraie of Skoura. Referred to as the “Oasis of 1000 Palms”, it offers a tranquil place with numerous lush palm groves to rumble around and unwind after a long trip into the rocks and canyons of Dades. The verdant canopy is enclosed by a 15-mile patchwork of gardens that still use the ancient khettara system of locks, levers and canals to water the plants.
You can birdwatch in palmeraie, which is a home to a variety of unique birds. There are pisé guesthouses in the lush place where you can spend the night. While you can wander around the palmeraie on foot, there are bicycles also that are available on rent.
Dades Valley is a fascinating place to be if you are visiting Morocco. From scenic beauty and cultural heritage to fossils and sediments, this region has it all. Apart from the mentioned activities, you can also hire a hiking guide or go for a 4WD trip in the valley.