Travel Report: Setti Fatma, Morocco.
October 2008. The picturesque Moroccan village of Setti Fatma sits neatly nestled in a canyon beneath The High Atlas Mountains. This small community is part of The Ourika Valley, one of the country’s prettiest regions. When S and I came here in late 2008, it was primarily for some respite from the manic energy of Marrakesh. Reachable from the city in just under two hours by car, Setti Fatma was the perfect opportunity to kick back a bit and see another side of the country.
Setti Fatma is a traditional Berber settlement of around twenty three thousand people. Home to a bunch of lovely, low-level hiking trails, what started out as a farming village has now morphed into a popular tourist spot. As a result, most locals here work in their own restaurants, guesthouses and craft shops. Others live as English-speaking hiking guides. The main community sits snugly on the edge of a gentle section of The Ourika River. It’s certainly a beautiful location and we were fortunate enough to come here in the off-season when there wasn’t much going on.
The walking trails of Setti Fatma aren’t too taxing, so this isn’t a place for thrill seekers and hardcore adventurers. For the most part you’ll be dealing with one-way, well signposted routes that are easy to climb, hence you can do the whole thing in your everyday trainers.
Setti Fatma, Morocco.
Our route that day was a simple 60 minute walk up to Setti Fatma Falls, a collection of fine waterfalls set into the valley. The path winds in and around some striking boulder formations.
There are a dozen or so souvenir stalls as you make your way up. Most of these guys sell traditional Berber crafts, with a focus on jewellery. It was a sleepy October afternoon so consequently the vendors were half hearted in their attempt to draw us in. From what I’ve read, it gets rammed here in the summer, when locals can make enough money to see them through the year.
Amusingly, we also came across a few drinks cabinets, where bottles stood on stone shelves carved out of the mountain itself. Trickling water from an above stream keeps the drinks cool and completes the cute look. Don’t forget to negotiate if necessary, prices can get crazy if they suspect you’re a soft touch.
The Ourika River.
The waterfall hike also takes visitors across a particularly pretty and fast-flowing section of The Ourika River. There are no safety barriers, or even a smooth path to the water, so clamber down at your own risk.
There are seven waterfalls scattered around the valley at Setti Fatma. Some of these are located in wonderfully secluded spots, with a drop of around twenty to thirty metres from top to bottom. However, these waters actually play second fiddle to the hugely impressive Ozoud Falls, four and half hours east of here.
Back down at ground zero, we met some fellow travellers who were getting ready to go up. Sharing a table at a riverside restaurant, we sat exchanging travel stories over tea and coffee. It was a truly beautiful corner and we had it all to ourselves.
There’s no better way to celebrate a hike in Setti Fatma than with dinner down by the river. The lamb tajines we ordered that day were fantastic, stewed in a rich gravy with fresh vegetables and potatoes. While easily done as a day trip from Marrakesh, many people like to stay right here in the village to take advantage of the fresh air, the quiet and starry nights. To see a range of options, head to booking.com.
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