A short but enjoyable walk from Tafraoute is to head south to AGARD OUDAD (3km from Tafraoute), a dramatic-looking village built under a particularly bizarre outcrop of granite. Like many of the rocks in this region, this has been given a name. Most of the others are named after animals – people will point out their shapes to you – but this one is known (in good French-colonial tradition) as Le Chapeau de Napoléon (Napoleon’s Hat).

The painted rocks

The Painted Rocks (Pierres Bleues or Pierres Peints), 1.5km to the southwest of Agard Oudad, were executed in 1984 by Belgian artist Jean Verame and a team of Moroccan firemen, who hosed some eighteen tons of paint over a large area of rocks; Verame had previously executed a similar project in Sinai. The rocks had lost some of their colour over the years so a local man decided to refresh them in 2010, to mixed reactions from local people, many of whom disliked the project, especially after pieces of the paint started washing off into the local streams.

To reach the rock on foot, walk through the village and follow the flat piste round to the right, behind the Chapeau de Napoléon; you’ll see the rocks on your left after a couple of kilometres. You should be able to engage a young guide in the village to help you find them. By car, a smooth piste breaks off the Tiznit road 5km further on and wends its way up towards the rocks, leaving a ten-minute walk at the end, but unless you prefer this longer route, don’t follow the road sign if you are on foot.

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