The Valley of the Roses in Morocco is often overlooked on the popular Ouarzazate to Dades road trip route. Not only is the scenery stunning; the local rose products are the lifeblood of a small Moroccan community


The southern foothills of the Atlas Mountains are a beautiful part of Morocco. Sinuous rivers cut a trail of green through the sculpted rock formations of steep sided ravines. Backed by the golden hue of a barren landscape, these oases give Morocco it’s unmistakable exotic feel.

Most of this exotic landscape is soaked up by travellers at Morocco’s popular destinations, the Dades Valley and Todra Gorge. While both are beautiful, the much less visited Valley of the Roses has scenery that can compete with the two heavyweights without the bursting number of visitors.

The Valley of the Roses has been carved by the Assif M’Goun river as it twists and turns its way down to the town of Kalaat M’Gouna. An exhilarating windy 30 km paved road runs alongside the river, with excellent views of the mesmerizing red rock / green valley combination.

But, it’s the valley’s namesake that brings life to the area – literally and economically. Each April and May the valley is flooded with local women picking roses to be shipped off to factories in nearby Kalaat. Here they are turned into everything from shampoo to hand creams; cure-alls and nasal decongestants.

It’s well worth taking the time to stop and smell the roses.

SOME GREAT THINGS TO DO IN VALLEY OF THE ROSES


DRIVE / Drive the dramatic winding road to Bou Tharar

WALK / Hike through the rose bushes along the valley floor

ROSES / Find some great value, local rose products at Rosa Bio

FESTIVAL / Be intoxicated by the Valley of the Roses flower festival

DRIVE THE DRAMATIC WINDING ROAD TO BOU THARAR

Since our previous visit to Morocco, new roads are popping up everywhere. Old bouncy gravel tracks that once required a 4WD, are now becoming high quality paved roads. The Valley of the Roses is no exception. The 30km journey from Kalaat M’Gouna to Bou Tharar is now a smooth drive on a good quality road.

And what a drive it is. Twisting and turning along the valley, the road cuts through the rugged wilderness of the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. There are several great viewpoints which we have marked on our map below to stop and well, smell the roses. The carved red rock walls contrasts beautifully with the green valley floor as mud-brick Kasbahs poke their heads above the verdant foliage.

The drive takes about 45 minutes and finishes with a windy descent through a canyon down to the town of Bou Tharar. There is not much to see in the village, except an old ruined Kasbah. However, if you want to go further you’ll need a 4WD and a serious sense of adventure. So after getting to Bou Tharar it’s time to head back the way you came. But with scenery this good, you won’t mind repeating the route.

Allow 2 hours for the drive from Kalaat to Bout Tharar and back including time to stop for photos.

HIKE THROUGH THE ROSE BUSHES ALONG THE VALLEY FLOOR

Every April and May, 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of wild flowers are collected from the Valley of the Roses. So, while the valley is beautiful in its own way, don’t expect huge swathes of colourful roses bursting out of the valley. The flowers are picked so quickly that a profusion of colour rarely builds up.

Nevertheless a short walk around the fertile green oasis sitting on the valley floor is still a great thing to do, if for the beautiful scenery alone. In the early spring mornings, the smell of roses and rush of local women energetically picking flowers is a great way to experience local Moroccan industry.

You have two options for exploring the valley floor.

Firstly, there are 2 villages that give easy access, Hdida or Taberkhachte. Just hop out of the car and stroll around the paths that ramble through the roses. There are no obvious tracks, so just find the easiest way on to the valley floor and have a wander around.

The second way is to organise a guide. Most hotels in the area will be able to rustle up someone to take you out for half a day. Alternatively, Kasbah Itran can organise a variety of guides in the area which provide a great opportunity to learn more about Berber life.

FIND SOME GREAT VALUE LOCAL ROSE PRODUCTS AT ROSA BIO

After the picking is complete, the petals are sent to factories where they are distilled into rose oil which is used to make all sorts of rosy products. Apparently this magical elixir can hydrate the skin, clear acne, slow aging, reduce anxiety and depression, and even cure a migraine. We lathered ourselves in the stuff but still look as old as we did before.

It takes a whopping 4 tons of roses to make 1 litre of rose oil. So it’s no wonder this magical essence sells for around $7,000 per litre. Fortunately, you don’t need anywhere near that much to sample some of Morocco’s sweetest smelling export.

Even if the therapeutic claims are generous, a trip to Rosa Bio – a small store located on the main road just east of Kalaat M’Gouna – is a great place to browse a bewildering selection of rose products. The store is run by the very friendly and helpful Etaia who will be more than happy to give you a quick tour of his distillery and spray you with so many products you’ll be smelling beautiful for days.

BE INTOXICATED BY THE VALLEY OF THE ROSES FLOWER FESTIVAL

If you are really organised you can time your trip for the Festival de Roses. This annual celebration is not just a chance for the locals to let off steam, it’s also used to attract overseas business. Inside tents, buyers and sellers compare products and haggle over prices. Outside, kebabs sizzle over grills and piles of dates are stacked high to feed the gathered crowds.

And of course, roses are everywhere. They are fashioned into necklaces and bracelets; shaped into garlands and draped from streetlights. A petal parade is overseen by a Rose Queen. It’s a world of pink and every little girl’s dream.

The date of the festival is tied to the harvest but is usually in the first two weeks of May. It begins on Friday, with the main events running through Saturday and Sunday. If you can’t time your trip exactly for the festival, a few days before is a great time to be in the Valley of the Roses. This is about the only time a profusion of colour is still clinging to the rose bushes in the valley.


HOW TO GET TO THE VALLEY OF THE ROSES

The Valley of the Roses surrounds the town of Kalaat M’Gouna and is on the main road between Ouarzazate and Tinghir. The well-graded road is paved and the area can be easily visited using any type of car. Allow the following times for your journey:

OUARZAZATE TO KALAAT M’GOUNA – 95KM / 1 HR, 30 MIN

TINGHIR TO KALAAT M’GOUNA – 75KM / 1 HR, 15 MIN

M’GOUNA TO BOU THARAR – 30KM / 45 MIN

If you don’t have your own car, buses and grand taxis work the main road from Ouarzazate to Tinghir via Skoura, Kalaat M’Gouna, and Boumaine Dades. If you are based in Ouarzazate you can also organise a private tour to the valley through the local tour operator, Travel Exploration.

You can find all the activities mentioned in this post in the map below.

WHERE TO STAY TO VISIT THE VALLEY OF THE ROSES

There’s a great selection of accommodation in this part of Morocco. Sleep within a renovated Kasbah or unwind in a beautiful oasis garden. With very reasonable prices and an out-of-the-way location, the Valley of the Roses is a great destination to treat yourself to a stylish stay. Keen to lure tourists to this under-visited part of the country, hotels out-do each other with innovative yet traditional cooking.

It’s a great place for a little affordable luxury. Here are some suggestions from us to help make the most of your Valley of the Roses stay.

PEACEFUL PARADISE

MAISON HAYAT


Run by a Belgian-Berber couple this lovely hotel is in the village of Imrhrane, high up on the road from Kalaat to Bou Tharar. Set in the rose gardens, the views from the terrace are as excellent as the hospitality. They can arrange guides to help you explore the area.

CHECK PRICES

TRADITIONAL KASBAH

KASBAH AGOULZI


This old house has been refurbished into a boutique hotel which maintains the magnificent Kasbah exterior. The French owner has paid attention to detail and the price includes dinner. As a bonus, there are excellent views over the valley.

CHECK PRICES

RELAXING OASIS

LES JARDINS DE SKOURA


Les Jardins de Skoura is not in the Valley of the Roses but in the Skoura Palmeraie – a 1hour drive away. But you can easily visit the valley on a day trip from this beautiful oasis hotel. We have stayed here twice and love the classic charm of the gardens and their exceptional food. .

CHECK PRICES

PEACEFUL PARADISE

MAISON HAYAT


Run by a Belgian-Berber couple this lovely hotel is in the village of Imrhrane, high up on the road from Kalaat to Bou Tharar. Set in the rose gardens, the views from the terrace are as excellent as the hospitality. They can arrange guides to help you explore the area.

CHECK PRICES

TRADITIONAL KASBAH

KASBAH AGOULZI


This old house has been refurbished into a boutique hotel which maintains the magnificent Kasbah exterior. The French owner has paid attention to detail and the price includes dinner. As a bonus, there are excellent views over the valley.

CHECK PRICES

RELAXING OASIS

LES JARDINS DE SKOURA


Les Jardins de Skoura is not in the Valley of the Roses but in the Skoura Palmeraie – a 1hour drive away. But you can easily visit the valley on a day trip from this beautiful oasis hotel. We have stayed here twice and love the classic charm of the gardens and their exceptional food. .

CHECK PRICES

WHEN TO VISIT THE VALLEY OF THE ROSES

The valley is at its most beautiful in spring when flowers line the valley floor and the crops are a bright green. So, the best time to visit is from early-April to late-May. To really see the valley in all its glory, time you visit to arrive just before the Festival de Roses, usually the first week of May.

After the summer temperatures drop, mid-September to mid-October can also be a good time to visit however, the colours will not as vibrant as in spring.

While not essential it is also worth considering Ramadan within your travel plans. Morocco is a very religious country and a month of fasting means guides are not keen to take long hikes and local cafes and cooperatives are often closed.

For 2020 Ramadan will be from 23 April to 23 May and for 2021 it will be from 12 April to 11 May.

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WHERE NEXT?

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While in the area, you can’t miss a half-day hike at the Tinghir Oasis and Todra Gorge. It’s a beautiful part of the country and – once off the main Todra tourist route – a very under-visited part of Morocco.

We also highly recommend exploring the Aït Bouguemez valley where we had a wonderful couple of days in a Berber community.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section below – we will always reply. To stay up to date with our travels, follow us on social and signup to our NEWSLETTER.

The Valley of the Roses in Morocco is often overlooked on the popular Ouarzazate to Dades road trip route. Not only is the scenery stunning; the local rose products are the lifeblood of a small Moroccan community. What to do and where to stay in the Valley of the Roses. / #morocco #rosevalley #roses #moroccotravel

The Valley of the Roses in Morocco is often overlooked on the popular Ouarzazate to Dades road trip route. Not only is the scenery stunning; the local rose products are the lifeblood of a small Moroccan community. What to do and where to stay in the Valley of the Roses. / #morocco #rosevalley #roses #moroccotravel

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