The first real town of the Middle Atlas, AZROU makes an attractive “introduction” to the region, an important but welcoming Berber market centre enclosed by wooded slopes on three sides. The town grew at the crossroads of two major routes – north to Meknes and Fez, south to Khenifra and Midelt – and long held a strategic role in controlling the mountain Berbers. Moulay Ismail built a kasbah here, the remains of which survive, while more recently the French established the prestigious Collège Berbère – one plank in their policy to split the country’s Berbers from the urban Arabs.
South of Azrou lies some of the most remote and beautiful country of the Middle Atlas: a region of dense cedar forests, limestone plateaus and polje lakes that is home to some superb wildlife, including Barbary apes. At its heart, and an obvious focus for a trip, are the waterfalls of Oum er Rbia, the source of Morocco’s largest river.