Ouzoud is an incredibly beautiful, peaceful, charming village in Morocco. Most people get the chance to visit Ouzoud by taking a day trip from Marrakech, but there are quite a few other options you should consider. Click here for more information on how to get there and what to do.
Whether you choose to take a day trip, or spend a few nights in this tiny Berber village, check out these 13 things to know before you go to Ouzoud.
Wear Comfortable Shoes.
You’ll be walking a lot, so be prepared with sneakers or comfortable shoes.
Be mindful that you’re in a Muslim country. Many tourists wear super short shorts, mini skirts and bikini tops to Ouzouz. I’ve even seen a few men walking around without shirts on, and while no locals will ever say anything, it’s extremely disrespectful to walk around half naked, even when hiking or on your way to swim in the river or underneath the waterfall. There are many devout Muslims in this small village who would not be rude or judgmental, but this is their home. You wouldn’t want a bunch of strangers walking into your home with their asses hanging out.
Take a private tour.
Get herded along like cattle with a group tour for only $3, but $35 for two for a four hour private tour, you can control the pace, choose where you want to stop to take photos or enjoy the view, and enjoy a spectacular view of the famous Ouzoud Waterfall with a local guide from the village who loves sharing his secret spots. Your guide take you to visit tagalyte caves, meet some friendly monkeys, and explain the history of the Berber Village.
Sure, it’s cheaper to do the group tour, but unless you’re a student backpacker on a really tight budget, the few extra bucks you spend not only gives you a VIP, super memorable experience, it really helps locals in a country where $200 a month for working 60 or more hours a week is normal- in a big city like Marrakech, so your small tourist dollars go a long way to help a family.
Most tourists who arrive on a mini-van don’t get to choose their guide, but if you arrange for a private tour, I strongly suggest using Jalal from Morocco Dreamtime Tours. He is passionate about his village, and absolutely loves sharing his secret spots with his guests.
Don’t do a day trip.
Stay overnight. No one will tell you that you’re going to fall completely in love with this Berber village until you get there and see for yourself that this magical place will put you under its spell. The touts only care about getting you on the bus; that’s how they make their money, so they don’t give a damn whether you spend 4 hours or 4 years in Ouzoud. They already got paid. But trust me, or go read Tripadvisor reviews and you’ll see over and over again that they only negative thing people write about their trip is that it was too rushed and too short.
The incredibly charming and romantic Hotel Challal d’ Ouzoud has rooms as low as $25 a night. You would be crazy not to spend at least one night here. But be sure to ask for a room overlooking the magical, fairytale-like garden below.
Go during summer.
Moroccan weather is pretty perfect almost all year long, but go during summer so you’ll enjoy swimming, boating and hiking during the day, and get to hear live music most nights.
Bring a Swimsuit.
Unlike many tourist destinations, you won’t find a shop where you can just buy a bathing suit at the last minute here. This is a modest, Muslim community. So remember to bring your swimsuit, or at least shorts and a t-shirt and jump in the river, or if you dare, swim close to the falls.
Take the Boat.
Pay $2 for a cool boat ride right next to the falls. Boat rowers usually take a few minutes to stop the boat and will offer to take pictures with the falls behind you.
The nearest ATM/ Bank is 36 kilometers/ half hour away and you can’t always flag a cab down here, so be sure to bring cash with you.
You cannot really find alcohol here (unless a local helps you). Ask your local guide, but be delicate. There are some devout Muslims who don’t drink and may be offended. Jalal, my favorite local guide, is really cool and will know where to get you some wine or other alcoholic beverages, and will show you the most amazing, scenic spot where you’ll be free to dink ’til your heart’s content.
Cafes on the Cliffs.
For a great view at lunch, eat at one of the cafes on the cliffs overlooking the cascades. Most of the restaurants have the same menu at about the same price (100 to 150 dirhams, or about $10- 15), so ask your guide to suggest his favorite spot overlooking the falls.
Dine at Challal.
For dinner, choose Cafe Challal d’Ouzoud and dine in the fairytale-like garden. It’s incredibly romantic, and the perfect location on the path to the waterfall.
Most of the restaurants in Ouzoud offer entire meals of tagine, the popular traditional dish of Morocco, but I was able to request special dishes at Chellal d’Ouzoud, like spaghetti bolognese, and sunny-side up eggs rather than the typical Berber omelet. Normally, I hate soup, but I was stunned at how good the vegetable soup was here, thick and hearty, and incredibly cheap at only 15 dirhams, or, about $1.50.
Whatever you order, you’ll be amazed at how cheap the tasty meals here are.
Choose the Right Guide
Choose a guide who will take you off the beaten path to amazing, Instagram worthy pics. Jalal is a guide whose passion and love for his village is obvious. He loves to take his guests to secret spots that other guides don’t know about, or, they just want to do their tours as quickly as possible. Group tours are only 30 dirhams or about $3.00 for a 4 hour tour, but I strongly suggest you consider taking a private tour so you can stop as often as you like to take the most amazing Instagram photos, browse at the little shops along the way, or just take your time walking back up the steps to the top of the waterfall.
Remember to Tip Your Guide!
I’ve talked to a few tourists who told me they prefer exploring on their own rather than to hire a guide. I get it, you want your freedom to take your time and perhaps you don’t really care to learn about the history of Ouzoud, or the slaves or locals who lived in the caves along the mountains. And maybe you don’t need to be taken to lesser known spots to get the best Instagram photos to brag about your amazing vacation to make all your friends jealous.
But your $3 goes a long way to help not only the local guides, but often times they’re supporting entire families from the insignificant fee they charge tourists.
I took several tours with Jalal, both a group tour and a private, modified tour because a former accident makes it difficult for me to hike or walk for longer distances.
Each time, I witnessed Jalal helping other community members. Residents of Ouzoud, (and much of Morocco,) often live in severe poverty. To see this man who has very little sharing with people less fortunate was heartwarming. I saw him give money to people who were homeless and disabled, and I watched him take 10 of the 29 people he had from his group tour and allowed two other local guides who didn’t have any tourists to work with them on that day share the work in order to all go home with at least some money for the day.
When I asked him why he did that, he said, “Well, one of the men has children, and he could really use the work, and the other one had not had a tour in a few days. It’s good to help others.”
Your tour fee, and especially your tips, help not only the guides, but often ends up helping the entire village, so remember to be generous.
Have you ever been to Ouzoud? Share your tips below.