Taliouine is a town located in Taroudant Souss-Massa Province, Morocco. Its surroundings have good tourist assets to plan a visit, being the country of saffron and further north, argan. There are many activities and things to see in the area. Discover all the things to do and to know in this travel guide.
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Visit saffron crops
Taliouine is renowned for its saffron crops throughout Morocco and even worldwide. This spice is the most expensive on the planet, so it is not by chance that it is nicknamed “red gold”. The crocus is a flower that requires a lot of work and precision.
The harvest takes place at dawn, where each pistil is taken before the sun is too strong. In which case, they directly wilt and compromise the harvest. Flowering is activated to when the temperature reach an accuracy of one degree, around 8°C. It only takes one degree above the flowering threshold to make it delay by 15 days.
How to visit the saffron fields?
You can visit the saffron crops by meeting the local peoples or by going directly to the cooperatives since they often organize visits. Here is one of them in the link below:
Visit the souk of Taliouine
Taliouine market is a lively place where you will find the crafts and specialties of the region, including saffron which is sold by the smallest producers. The souk takes place on Monday morning.
Where is it?
The souk is located in the old town of Taliouine, on the other side of the wadi to the south.
Hiking in Taliouine
Taliouine and its surroundings are appreciated by travelers who spend their holidays there because they offer so many hiking trails. You will be able to pass through many steep villages with amazing views.
Hiking in the wadi
In addition to the choice to hike on the heights of Taliouine during your trip, I also advise you to hike in the Wadi Zamgouzen, at the bottom of the city. It is very beautiful and full of wildlife.
You will see many birds but also many aquatic turtles (Mauremys leprosa) jumping from the rocks when you get close. Some places are even deep enough to swim.
Visit the agadirs
Taliouine and its surroundings are full of archaeological and historical sites. Most of them are old wells and agadirs.
What is an agadir?
Agadir (tagadirt) is a name taken from Shilha (tachelhit), one of the 4 main Berber languages which means “sloping” and designates a citadel or fortress. In other regions, this name can also be given for a collective attic.
The agadirs of Taliouine
You will find many agadirs everywhere in Taliouine and its surroundings. The region is full of them. These are good places to visit when hiking. It is like a sport because as their names suggest, they are positioned on steep terrain. Their locations culminated the valleys to identify external threats from afar. Thus, they offer today the most beautiful views of Taliouine.
Agadirs closest to Taliouine
If you are in the city of Taliouine, there is one that you can’t miss if you scrutinize the landscape. Indeed, on the eastern slope there is an agadir, it is easily accessible by crossing the wadi and then climbing. This is the one that is illustrated here. The second is in front of the Taliouine bridge, on the western slope.
Discover the Berber caves
Before being sedentary, Berbers (Amazigh) were nomadic. This is no longer the case today, although a tiny minority still is. These nomadic Berbers lived (and still live) in caves already existing and then shaped and landscaped.
They are often located along the wadis. What for? Simply to have water for their own needs but especially for their herds. The vegetation is more present than on the arid heights so, it makes sense to let the cattle graze.
Where to see Berber caves in Taliouine?
As mentionned, you will find them where the water passes or in valleys. There are several on the east bank of Taliouine, directly above the wadi. You will find some of them at this location:
Visit the Kasbah of Taliouine
South of the city of Taliouine, you can visit a large and sublime casbah (Kasbah de Glaoui). One part is in ruins, but the other is still in a good condition (exterior, at least). It was once the residence of the governor of Marrakech El Haj T’hami El Mezouari El Glaoui of the Glaoua tribe.
Where is the Kasbah located?
It is just after the second bridge of Taliouine to the south, towards Ouarzazate, on the right side.
Let’s now discover the surroundings of Taliouine, the things to do and places to see.
Hiking to Mount Jebel Sirwa
Jebel Sirwa (or Siroua) is a large extinct volcano with a peak culminating at 3,304 meters high. It is located on the borders of the Atlas Mountains and the Anti-Atlas. It is a popular activity for tourists traveling to Morocco and Taliouine.
The place is of great visual but also cultural richness, with the presence of traditional collective attics called “igoudars” in this area.
There are also many cobalt, gold and silver extraction mines. Saffron is also grown there. This place is accessible from Taliouine, about 35 km through the mountains.
After the Moroccan capital of saffron, let’s discover Tazenakht (or Taznakhte), the Moroccan capital of Berber carpet! They come from the weaving of the wool of a breed of sheep called Sirwa (native to the place seen above).
These rugs that some can be expensive are colorful, with wonderful patterns that differ from a tribe to another. Originally, they are not entered at random and have a specific meanings.
Where and how to see carpet weavers?
Go to local shops to arrange with shopkeepers, or go to carpet cooperatives. They organize the tours for you. Here is the address of a less visited cooperative but with reputation known for its carpet quality and its warm welcome.
Tazenakht and the caravan route
Tazenakht was also an interesting city because of its geographical position for the caravan route. It was a strategic place that served several surrounding regions, which made it a kind of hub where there was trade and barter of many spices, pottery, jewelry, cereals and other goods.
Visit Tazenakht during the souk
Tazenakht is a quiet town, except on market day when all the producers and villagers from the surrounding area go there. This is definitely the best time to visit the city which becomes full of life and even more interesting. The souk takes place every Thursday morning.
The Atlas is known to be full of hundreds different stones. Tazenakht also has many, some of which are rare and cobalt-like structures. Here is a sample (the 4 pics were taken in Tazenakht and are taken from Wikimedia Commons):
About 10 kilometers after Taliouine, you reach Assaki town, the beggining of the argan area. You will find many argan trees along the roads to Taroudant. A good opportunity to buy local products at a good price.
By luck, you will see herds of goats in the trees, as they are fond of the fruits of the argan tree.
The argan tree (Argania spinosa) is a species of tree endemic and native to Morocco. The oil is obtained from its “fruits” called “affiaches” that mature when they become yellow-orange. A shell is inside, itself containing 2 or 3 cores. It’s from these that the oil is extracted.
– Goats and argan harvesting
Traditionally, goats are used to harvest the cores. Indeed, goats feed on the pulp of fruits by selecting the ripest ones. As the cockles are not digested, the farmer only has to pick them up on the ground in the excrement.
Learn more about argan related work
Just like saffron or carpets, you can meet local producers or going directly to the argan cooperatives. You can arrange a tour there, and learn more about argan and its products.
Visit the agadirs of Assaki
Also in Assaki, a few kilometers north of Taliouine, there are many agadirs on the heights of the town. By climbing to one of them, you will see all the others.
Enough to keep you busy a day, because they are numerous. This is an exciting activity I enjoyed during my visit to Taliouine.
Visit the nearest agadir
The closest site from Assaki center can be reached in a few tens of minutes. You will not miss it since it’s clearly visible from the city. From this one, you will find all the others.
Hiking in the Tislit Gorges
A must to see if you are a nature lover and you like calm and quiet places. 40 kilometers south of Taliouine are the Tislite Gorges (or Tislit). A magnificent valley composed of volcanic rock where a wadi crosses. It is one of the most beautiful places in Taliouine area.