Travel To The Valley of Roses in Morocco

They say that when the desert wind blows, the scent of the roses of the M'gouna reaches as far as Marrakech. Who does not have the patience to wait for the wind, can take the road that leads to the South, between the peaks of the High Atlas. At the foot of the High Atlas mountains that approach the Sahara, we find an unexpected place, the Valley of Roses. Here, in spring, the whole area is dressed in pink and breathes a wonderful smell. It is a delight for both sight and smell.

Crossing the Tizi n'Tichka pass (2260 m), we proceed to the oasis of Skoura. The ocher gives way to the brown red of the rocks. Soon, the landscape becomes harsher. We visit the kasbah of Amerhidil, one of the most impressive fortress constructions in Morocco. We get to Skoura, the first great oasis of the Dades valley. Here, among the date palms, eucalyptus and oleander, the spectacular ksar, the castles of land of Morocco, rise up .

On the route of the kasbahs, about 90 kilometers from Ouarzazate, in the Dades Valley, there is a fortified town known by the name of Kelaat M'Gouna. It is the main access to this beautiful valley and one of the last oases in the area before reaching the infinite sands of the Sahara. While this town is the starting point for hiking trails and excursions, it is, above all, the Moroccan capital of the rose.

We continue to El Kelaa M'Gouna, the capital of roses, where the secret of the master perfumers of Provence is jealously guarded. The rose gardens stretch as far as the eye can see, for over 50 kilometers, along the banks of the Dades. The valley extends from Kelaat M'Gouna, to Bou Tharar, which is about 30 uninterrupted kilometers of rose cultivation.

In Bou Tharar, from the magnificent and imposing Ksar de Bou Tharar, which dominates the beautiful oasis, we admire the spectacle of the collection during the morning. The rose found in this valley, called rosa damascena, is resistant to cold and drought, and one of the most perfumed and sought-after species in the world. According to the legend, it was introduced by chance in some of the caravans of pilgrims that returned from Mecca some 300 years ago.

After breakfast, visit the oasis of Skoura. Going back to the north-east the river valley of Dadès and M'Goun, we reach El Kelaa. It is a small town surrounded by thousand kasbahs and incredibly green fields. It also stops at Bou Tharar, a village of lace land, with its four-storey fortress. Then we head straight to Boumalne. We have dinner and stay again overnight in a kasbah.

Rose petals are used mainly to make rose water, soaps and cosmetics. In Kelaat M'Gouna there are stores dedicated to their production and sale. When we ask, they also explain the distillation process. We visit some of the distilleries and purchase rose water and other products. Walking through the rows of flowers is in its own way a wellness therapy.

We also attend one of the most popular rose festivals in Morocco. For three days, from Friday night to Sunday, visitors from neighboring towns and a multitude of tourists come to Kelaat M'Gouna to enjoy the music and the colors in the balconies, terraces, gardens and streets. They flood with flowers.

We attend shows and open-air concerts by Berber groups, exhibitions of agricultural and artisanal products, mainly jewelry and carpets, and competitions. The Queen of Roses is also chosen for which, the most beautiful women in the area dance in the streets dressed in their best caftans and adorned with petals.

Many of the kasbahs in the valley have been renovated and have been converted into beautiful accommodations, decorated in the Moroccan style. Here we spend some quiet and relaxing days enjoying the beauty of the surroundings.

At the exit of the town of Kelaat, there are, for example, Kasbah, with spectacular views over the valley, hammam and panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains. About 7 kilometers away is a Kasbah on the banks of the M'Goun River and surrounded by a beautiful garden. From the parking lot we walk about ten minutes to the kasbah.

In the village of Agoulzi, about 9 km away, we move to a Kasbah situated on top of a cliff overlooking the Atlas Mountains in the distance. The rocky hills in the foreground and the green oasis of the Roses valley below. Another one, about 17 kilometers away, is in the valley, in Hadida. It has a hammam, terrace, garden and barbecue area.

Next day after breakfast at Boumalne we leave for an excursion into the rich Ksour valley, villages of pressed land. The oldest buildings are three to four centuries; some are inhabited, others in a state of neglect. We go all the way to the Dades gorges, one of the most spectacular in Morocco. We have dinner and stay overnight in a kasbah in the lush oasis of Skoura.

Next day after breakfast, we cross the chain of the Atlas to return to Marrakech. We do it along a different route, which starts after Skoura. We cross the Tessaout torrent, in the Berber heart of the High Atlas, and descend towards the valley to Demnate. We arrive in Marrakech in the late afternoon. We complete our discovery of the thousand faces of the May rose that comes from Damascus.

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