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davidx Setti Fatma - A travel report by David
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Setti Fatma,  Morocco - flag Morocco -  Marrakech
16904 readers

davidx's travel reports

Setti Fatma and the wonderful Ourika Valley

  15 votes
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I loved Marrakech. I’ve done a report. BUT it’s great to escape for a day and where better than this? The valley provides both shade and excellent scenery and a great sense of peace after the traffic and tourist bustle of the city.

Cooling down.
Cooling down.
I booked a place in a minibus for 200 dirhams in Marrakesh from Sahara Expeditions. We drove through mainly arid plains, but with some olive plantations for about 30km, a heat haze [the temperature was in the high 30s Celsius (high 90s Fahrenheit) in November 2007] obscuring the High Atlas Mountains. At about this far we entered the Ourika Valley. This is where there are a string of villages going up the valley for some 37 km where Setti Fatma is reached. The valley can be followed further but the road is really only suitable for four by fours or creature-drawn wagons beyond this point. There are restaurants galore which are mainly on the road side of the river but with rough bridges across enabling visitors to eat really close to the water on the other side. Perhaps the main attraction is the walk up to the seven waterfalls, very steep but with willing guides. The trip we took did not allow time for this but there was a guide urging us to go to the first waterfall. Correction – the word ‘us’ is misleading. I had been telling a woman from New Zealand about my health to explain why I might not go right up with them. I saw her talk to the guide and following this I was clearly excluded from his invitation – rightly as far as I could gather from the report of the three women who did go; a Californian, a New Zealander and a Scot – sounds like the start of a joke.

Favourite spots:
At the Berber house
At the Berber house
My favourite place was not actually in Setti Fatma at all but this is more about the Ourika Valley as a whole. Soon after entering the valley, we stopped to visit a Berber house. I know that if this happens every day, in a way it stops being a typical house but there were still many typical features. The house is constructed mainly from mud bricks and is about three storeys high. In a room well within the house and close to the kitchen, two cows were in undisputed possession. Chickens wandered in and out. After enjoying the great views across the valley where lush vegetation gave way to arid slopes of the mountains up to something in the order of 8,000 feet, we went to the salon for a drink of mint [masses of it] tea. The whole family seemed to have gathered for this and a considerable number of children was included.

What's really great:
For sale or ? There's
 nobody to see them.
For sale or ? There's nobody to see them.
While the international trio were making for the waterfall, I had a guide of my own to take me to the place that had been selected as a suitable alternative for me, the village of Setti Fatma itself. Seeing this, which really was an ordinary Berber village (since it was situated well above the road and I was the only visitor in sight!) was something very special even if to say I had a special liking for it might seem a bit over the top.

Looking up the valley
Looking up the valley
Mine was a day trip but it seemed that some of the restaurants had a limited number of rooms. I’m sure Sahara Expeditions could arrange something for you.

My hangout
My hangout
I may be cheating a bit here but I did hang out, whilst waiting for the international trio to return – and it was cool, in both senses on a day that was far from cool as far as temperature was concerned. I was taken to a carpet warehouse between the road and the village, provided with two cups of mint tea or ‘Berber whisky’ as they laughingly call it and invited to rest on a sort of sofa. The proprietor explained that he did not go in for the hard sell, something that would have given him unique status in the area! He knew that ‘you are on holiday and you don’t want to buy a market – but I should like to show you a few.’ He did and then asked which I liked best –and then which ones I wouldn’t even consider. ‘If we did find that there was one that you like, I should be prepared to offer you a special price – and they are all unique, made by women to no pattern – and thus a great investment and you would be doing help to the women of our family and - - -.’ Lucky there was no hard selling or I might have succumbed!!!

The 'international trio' waiting for lunch; the fourth seat was mine.
The 'international trio' waiting for lunch; the fourth seat was mine.
I don’t think I ever bothered with the name of the restaurant where we were clearly expected to eat. The international trio and I ate together near to the river. A monkey tied with a shortish rope rather spoiled the natural atmosphere but the food was good, though considerably more expensive than eating at the Djemma al Fna’a in Marrakesh.

Other recommendations:
Across the river
Across the river
At one point early in the valley there is a co-operative for the making and sale of argaan oil, made from the nut of the argan tree, which is now only found in part of Morocco. You can see the whole process from the cracking of the nuts through to the sale of the oil, some for culinary and some for domestic purposes. It’s far from cheap but many buy, not only because it’s excellent stuff, unique to this area but also to support this enterprise by Moroccan women. I read that the tree dates back into pre-historic times and used to cover much of north Africa.

Published on Tuesday November 13th, 2007

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Thu, Nov 29 2007 - 09:01 AM rating by murrayskinner

David, I enjoyed your report and laughed at the "lack of Hard Selling" atthe warehouse. Great insights. Thank You!

Wed, Nov 28 2007 - 11:49 PM rating by downundergal

Another intrepid report injected with some humour.

Tue, Nov 20 2007 - 10:04 AM rating by jorgesanchez

eres el rey de los reports excelentes...

Mon, Nov 19 2007 - 06:32 AM rating by cool_imad

very interesting, nice pictures too..

Sat, Nov 17 2007 - 06:15 AM rating by joe_schmidt

David, excellent narration and interesting story with some added information and very good pictures. I really enjoyed this one! I appreciate this style very much.

Sat, Nov 17 2007 - 04:35 AM rating by rangutan

Very good "off the beaten track" daytrip story.

Fri, Nov 16 2007 - 10:59 PM rating by mtlorensen

Another fascinating report! Interesting your photo of the rather rustic village, rugs in the foreground and satellite dishes on the roofs!

Fri, Nov 16 2007 - 11:14 AM rating by frenchfrog

your report depicts the true colours of the country, well done, many thanks for sharing, good info.

Thu, Nov 15 2007 - 11:34 AM rating by marianne

Your discription has made me want to visit Ourika valley, we skipped it when in marrakesh. Did you buy Argan oil? We bought it when in Agadir. I suppose you know that the goats eat the nuts first, they digest the pulp and the undigested kernels are collected to produce the oil. Although these days the animal digesting the nut is often skipped, and the oil is 'human made' instead of animal made'

Thu, Nov 15 2007 - 04:20 AM rating by bineba

Great report. We also went to the Ourika Valley for lunch and our driver also took us to a carpet place, even after we explicitly told him that we weren't interested in buying one.

Tue, Nov 13 2007 - 10:06 PM rating by zrusseff

Very enjoyable - living life vicariously through the travels of fellow globospiens: that's me. A good chance to learn about my beloved planet Earth. I have to look up Argan nut on the internet. I am curious about different fruits, vegetables, plants. Thanks for your sharing your vast store house of travel experience.

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