The last two years, I’ve spent the Islamic holiday Eid Al-Adha with Moroccan friends and families. For this one, I decided to roam around a bit and see the environs of the Beni Mellal area and maybe find a blind camel.
Though I’d been in most every region of Morocco, I had yet to adequately explore the more mountainous areas, which considering Morocco is nearly synonymous with the Atlas Mountains, having three separate ranges of them within its borders, was unforgivable. I managed to find a lovely little auberge in a nearby village called Timoulilt that was nestled into an olive grove. It was near enough to Beni Mellal should we need anything, but far enough that we felt like we were alone in the world.
The auberge was super funky having been decorated by the artist/chef/proprietor who spent many years living in Spain. During one of our outings to the nearby reservoir Bin El Ouidane, we purchased some huge freshly caught mountain ash trout (or so I was told) which we brought back and he was more than happy to prepare for us as dinner for two nights. He is an excellent chef and every night dinner was amazing.
The salads were perhaps the best I’ve had in Morocco. He even set us up a private table away from other guests so we could enjoy our bottle of wine without potentially offending some of the Moroccan guests.
Bin El Ouidane
Our visit to the reservoir was in late summer, so much of the water had been depleted for the year. This exposed some of the amazing geology that is usually hidden below the water. Since it was a holiday, we essentially had the entire lake to ourselves, though we did find some men with a tour boat to take us around for an hour for 200 dirhams ($20). It was during this voyage that we overheard him speaking with a local fisherman from whom we later bought the trout.
After boating, we went to a nearby hotel on the lake for a drink on their terrace. Below are some photos of the lake.
Not far from Bin El Ouidane are some amazing waterfalls that cascade down from a tremendous height into the valley below. The town itself is quite small, but overflows with tourists during the summer. Again, since this was a holiday, the crowds were minimal, so it was a nice day to hike around. It’s possible to walk along the stream below the falls and have a view of them from below. Since our trip was near the end of summer, the water coming over the falls was negligible, but still magnificent because of the drop.
First, we descended into the valley following the stream with the hope of making to a particular village we’d heard about, but local guides on their way back with tourists told us the river had washed out the bridge. So, we crossed and headed upstream passing informal cafés set up in the middle of the water. Climbing up out of the valley, we stopped for a quick tagine lunch, watched some macaques play in the trees, then headed on our way.
Below are some photos.
The area around Beni Mellal is truly stunning. The backdrop of the mountains with the vast open plains that seem to unfold forever below make this a place to return to again and again.
Also published on Medium.