Explore The High Atlas
OUIRGANE is an up-and-coming destination due to its proximity to Marrakesh and its stunning greenery, red-earth hills and pine forests, all of which combine to make it worth an overnight stay (or longer). It’s a wonderful spot to rest up after a few days of trekking around Toubkal and makes a pleasant base in itself for day walks into the surrounding foothills, mountain-bike forays or horseback riding. The village hosts a small Thursday souk.
Both Ouirgane and the lush Marigha town and region heat up in the summer due to their indented position among the peaks, which means that while it’s cooler than Marrakesh, it’s still best to visit (or plan activities) here from March to May and mid-September to December.Read More
Day treks in Ouirgane are best done with a guide. One recommended walk that you can request from a local expert is to start in Marigha, head south to the village of Marigha Izdern (1200m) and on to Imareghan Noufla (1220m), which has some of its stone olive oil presses still in use. From here, you’ll head onward to Tinzert; enjoy the view of the Takherkhourte Peak (2500m) in the distance. From Tinzert, continue to Tagadirt n’Ousni and the village of Tamgounssi and down to Asni for transport back to Ouirgane or to Marrakesh. The total walking time is four to five hours.
At the time of writing, the National Park Office had nearly completed a five- to six-hour trail connecting Ouirgane to the Toubkal refuges, which then gives access to the summit. The trail is rated as moderate, is easier than the current established route from Imlil, and is sure to become a main thoroughfare once it is open to the public. For up-to-date information, ask at local hotels.
To the Azzadene Valley and Imlil
Walking from Ouirgane to Imlil is an overnight treat full of stunning views and steady climbing. From Ouirgane (or easily followed on the road connecting Imarira and Tassa Ouirgane), head east towards Tassa Ouirgane, where the well-trodden path will take you along the edge of the beautiful Azzadene Valley. When you reach Azerfsane, head south along the major river valley, Assif n’Ouissadene, finally connecting to the town of Aït Aïssa (Id Aissa) after five to six hours, which has a couple of small gîtes offering basic accommodation (50dh) and meals (50dh).
From Aït Aïssa, continue south to Tizi Oussem where you’ll change direction, heading east over Tizi Mzik, through Azib Mzikene, and finally into the Mizane Valley and on to Imlil. This second day’s walk also takes about five to six hours.
Biking the Marigha Circuit
Exploring the area around Ouirgane by bike is a great way to see more of this rich region via the backroads. One of the best circuits is the Marigha Ciruit, an 18km route that should take about three hours to complete.
Head southwest out of Ouirgane on the paved road to Taroudant. At a sign for Chez Momo II, take the left turn. Further, the paved entry becomes a gravel road as it heads uphill. Keep right and at the crest of the hill, you’ll have a superb view of the Ouirgane barrage.
The views of the Azaden Valley come into view as you continue uphill and the piste finally gives way to flat riding; continue along the same piste to the village of Agouni (which means hungry in the local dialect). The piste opens up at the edge of Agouni to an area once inhabited by a local Jewish population. The buildings are painted white (a rare feature, interpreted locally as holy ground), and the site comes to life every August for a private moussem celebration.
Behind the Jewish village, the piste splits – continue straight (slightly left) to stay on course. It’s possible here to detour up to the stunning village of Tikhfirst, 4km away, by turning right and following the piste steeply uphill – sublime views over the countryside await. Local families are known for their tea-making (tip 10dh per person), so this makes a nice point to refresh before heading back downhill.
Continue on the road past the Jewish settlement; within a few minutes you’ll reach the village of Anraz, where the piste becomes a smooth single-track trail. You’ll bike for a short distance through shady homesteads as the trail becomes a road again after half a kilometre at the village of Torrort. From here, take the piste downhill to cross the bridge over the Assif n’Ouissadene. Just after this point, there’s an intersection where you’ll see a sign for Takhrkhort National Park. Turn left here towards Tassa Ouirgane; a right turn will take you, a few minutes later, to some of the best views of the entire ride – from here, backtrack to take the parth to Tassa Ouirgane.
From the intersection, head north along the well-maintained road, which connects to the Taroudant and Marrakesh road after about five kilometres. Here, turn left to return back to Ouirgane.