Tafraoute: A Calm Place in The Mountains
Tafraoute is a tiny town in the Anti-Atlas mountain range of Morocco. In this post I’ll tell you why it was one of the highlights of my time in Morocco.
Tafraoute was the one place that I knew I’d definitely visit even before I’d reached Morocco. I’d read about the famous ‘Painted Rocks’ and seen pictures of the ‘Van Valley’ where many people in campers flock to escape the winter each year. I was pretty excited to explore this area and I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s about a four hours from the city of Agadir (if you’re in a slow van) and the drive is spectacular!
Lots of roads like this
Past the goats in the trees
And through this valley
I was awestruck for the entire drive. I’d never driven through any kind of landscape like this.
The town of Tafraoute is tiny but but you’ll find everything you need.
The backdrop of the mountains is visible around every corner.
Grab a pair of ‘Babouche’ shoes
One thing you’ll notice as you walk around Tafraoute are the amount of shops selling shoes. They are everywhere, on every street!
These brightly coloured goat leather slippers are called ‘Babouches’. They’re traditional dress in Morocco and still widely worn. Tafraoute is famous for making these shoes so you can get a really good deal here. I picked up two jazzy pairs for about 80Dh (~£6.60) each.
Location: 29.721308, -8.983206
If you drive just past the village of Tafraoute you’ll see a large area dotted with many vans. This is a guarded area where you can stay for 15Dh (~£1.20) a night. I really liked it here and stayed for about a month, it was way less hectic and stressful than the other places I’d stayed.
The van valley is about 10 minutes walk from town so it’s convenient for nipping in and getting supplies. The guardian is really friendly and I never felt hassled by him. I’d frequently see him walking around at night making sure that people and their vans were safe.
One thing that I really appreciated here was the camper service point. Just like in Europe you can fill with filtered drinking water and empty your chemical toilet for 20Dh (~£1.60). It’s by the mosque about 300 meters from the van valley. This was the only one I saw during my stay in Morocco. It makes life so much easier when you can go to one place and not have to haggle about anything.
Need some work done on your van? It’s cheap here!
There are many mechanics in town who will do pretty much any kind of work on your van for a very reasonable price.
I got some painting and welding done at Chez Mohammed.
My rear bumper was completely rotten so I had it rebuilt. I also had some touch-up painting done on other areas of the van. All of this cost 1300Dh (~£107) which, as anyone who’s received a quote for this type of work in England will know, is an incredible price.
However, the pay off for getting this work done at a bargain rate is that it isn’t up to the standards you’d pay for in Europe. I found I had to be quite observant about how the work was being done and keep checking that they were definitely doing the work that I wanted (In the most friendly way I could).
Hamada, who was working on my van, did a great job but didn’t paint the inside of the bumper that he’d rebuilt and I only noticed this when I’d moved the van away from the garage. In the end I just primed and painted this myself. It didn’t take too long and was way easier than driving back to the garage and trying to get them to spray it. Either way I’m glad I double checked!
The Painted Rocks
Location: 29.672284, -8.972909
A short distance from Tafraoute are the famous ‘Painted Rocks’. I wasn’t quite ready for how surreal this was in real life. The whole thing is absolutely bizarre but impressive, if just in scale. Apparently they filled fire engines with paint and then sprayed the colour on. Even if that’s not true, it’s a fantastic mental image.
These are just some of the reasons I decided to stay around this area for nearly six weeks. On top of the weather, cheap garages, abundance of shoes and surreal rocks I met lots of other people travelling in vans.
I hadn’t met many other travelers in the North so it was great to hang out with some other like-minded people and laugh about the madness of Morocco.
It also gave me a bit of space to get used to life in Morocco. Once I didn’t have to worry about finding somewhere to park, life became much less stressful and I found that I was enjoying my time here a lot more.