After exploring the incredible Blue City with the best tour guide possible, Hind, an exchange student from Chefchaouen who lived with me and mum the summer I was 15, we are all off to Akchour for a more outdoorsy adventure. Hind says it’s one of the most beautiful spots in Morocco, and, after splashing around in the emerald green pools and hiking beneath the natural rock bridges myself, I can honestly say that it’s no exaggeration.
All the details: Cascades d’Akchour
Getting there: If you don’t have a Hind to drive you around to all the best spots in Morocco, you can still get to Akchour via taxi. Your riad should be able to organise one for you; expect to pay around 250Dh for the ~50min drive from Chefchaouen (which you can split with everyone in the taxi). You’ll probably need to pay extra to have the taxi wait for you at the waterfalls while you enjoy your hike, so be sure to negotiate this in advance, as well.
What to do: There are a number of hikes you can do when you arrive. The main falls were actually dried up during our visit, so we asked one of the vendors there and he directed us to the lower falls (30min). After returning and enjoying a snack, we also hiked to God’s Bridge, which was simply incredible (45min).
Top tips: Neither of these hikes are very demanding, but you’ll want runners on to navigate the uneven trail and slippery rocks. When you’re done exploring for the day, grab a table by the river and dig into some positively amazing tajine.
Akchour is less than an hour’s drive from Chefchaouen and we reach it comfortably, faces pressed to the window, taking in the scenery from the back of Hind’s father’s car. Once parked, we set ourselves up at one of the little tables in the shade and enjoy a piping hot cup of mint tea before leaving Hind’s father to watch our belongings and venturing up one of the trails towards the falls. The larger waterfall is all but dried up due to the relentlessly dry summer heat, but some lower falls are still plenty wet, so we set out on a half hour walk that brings us to one of the Cascades d’Akchour.
Neither Katy nor Hind fancy a swim, so I hop immediately in alone, shorts and all, to cool off from what would ordinarily be a simple walk (but has been thoroughly complicated by the 40C heat and scorching sun). There are a few Moroccan families also splashing about and jumping off one of the rocks into the pool, but the waterfall is distinctly void of tourists. It’s this local vibe that contributes heavily to my positive impressions of this gorgeous spot, as I feel like we’re discovering an authentic piece of the country and really getting off the main tourist path. All thanks to our wonderful local friend!
After my swim, Katy, Hind, and I journey back down to our table to enjoy a rest in the shade, and Hind’s father buys us a whole bucket of these little yellow seeded fruits, which the vendor sets on our table, peels open with his knife, and hands out almost faster than we can eat them. After buying a couple more large bottles of water, Hind and I set off again, this time in the opposite direction towards God’s Bridge. Katy’s hip is still troubling her, so she stays behind to read in the shade while Hind and I follow one of the local vendors past several turns before being pointed in the right direction to continue our hike.
While not terribly steep, the trail crosses frequently through rivers and is covered with loose rock, so it’s probably best that Katy’s sat this one out in her dress and sandals, not to mention her sore hip. Despite a few slips, Hind and I make it to the main event, God’s Bridge, after about 40 minutes, and I am suitably blown away by the natural rock bridge that has formed high above a series of sapphire pools and sparkling waterfalls. The photos really don’t do it justice, but that doesn’t stop me from taking several dozen shots from virtually the same angle anyway.
Eager to see more of this incredible bridge, Hind and I scramble around the rocky edges of the pools, fully climbing at times, wading through water up to our thighs at others, and eventually reach a large pool beneath the bridge where the temptation to swim is just too great. Again, there are a few Moroccan families also enjoying an afternoon swim, but there are definitely no tourist crowds. Which only leads me to believe that people mustn’t know of this spot, because if they did..!
I’m reluctant to ever leave our gorgeous little oasis, but I’ve got chicken tajine on my mind, so I eventually drag myself out of the water, we retrace our steps across the slippery rocks, and then descend another half hour back to our table. We enjoy yet another fabulous tajine (I honestly haven’t had a bad one yet) and chatter for well over an hour before we make our way back to the car and call it a day.
Every day I spend in Morocco, I am increasingly awed by the stunning landscapes, whether it is the desert, mountains, waterfalls, or just bustling medinas. I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that I had no idea I’d see lush swimming holes and waterfalls here, but the country continues to surprise and impress me, and is rising quickly to the top of my list of favourite destinations. For anyone travelling Morocco and visiting the magical Chefchaouen, planning a day trip out to the Cascades d’Akchour is an absolute must!