All over Morocco throughout the year there are festivals in celebration of something happening -
there are the established remembrance ones for events that are on the annual calendar - such as Throne Day, the Green March day, birth of Prophet Mohammad and so on
- then there are special events happening in different areas around Morocco such as the harvesting of Morocco's famed to be best dates in the Tafilalet area so theres a Date Festival in Erfoud - or the Rose Festival in Kelaa Mgouna where thousand of roses are harvested to produce a wide of wonderful products celebrated with the Festival of the Rose harvest usually the first weekend of May.
Then each community has its own festivals to just get together in the summer and celebrate life and culture and togetherness with entertainment provided by local tribes and groups or special entertainers brought in. Morocco and its people is well known for love of music and music - along with a love for colourful and vibrant costumes, interesting instruments etc and theres an amazing range of music to be heard.
Tafraoute is well known for its Almond Blossom festival in February with the peak of the blossoming of thousands of almond trees around the area - its a beautiful time to visit but if you can time your visit with the 3 day long festival you wont be disappointed.
Another festival to aim for here in Tafraoute is in July - starting at 10pm each night til about 3-4 in the morning!, with the first night a berber marriage arrangement then various music and entertainers through the 3 nights - and people milling about, stalls advertising the local products such as the many uses that can be found for Argane of which the trees, similar to the almond but without any blossom flower, grow here in abundance. July can be boiling hot in Tafraoute but a great time to be out of doors along with hundreds of the locals enjoy the excuse to get together for long nights....
There are also moussems which are days that celebrate or remember the life of a 'saint' - someone from bygone days revered in the community and remembered - usually will have a marabout or shrine somewhere - though this is an issue that conflicts with fundamental practices of Islam.
As for the festivals be geared to join in with the Moroccan thing of being up all night - the festival here in July didnt start until 10pm each night, finishing about 3-4 in the morning - add any difficulties such as traffic jams from cars being parked pretty much anywhere and everywhere...! But in the summer heat of July the locals dont usually plan to do much during the day but rest and relax and recover and then get back out for an all nighter at the all weekend festival. this is similar format to the weddings of which there are many during the summer months....allnight, all weekend, or all week long affairs bringing families and communities together
Ammoggar Cafe is a large upstairs terrasse cafe right at the intersection in the Ammeln valley that is officially called Ammeln.
You will see a terrace with lots of pots and flowers around it and a double set of stairs - that has a wall of pottery kasbah and Tafraoute style houses on the front - going up from a parking area just before the Chez Amaliya hotel.
This actually is the area that becomes chocka block with thousands of locals during the July and whenever else music festivals and this cafe is one of the main eating and drinking areas during those periods.
Take the stairs up and the serving counter is just there. The terrace area is just excellent with fantastic views to Jebel Kest and on further down the Ammeln valley and lots of plants around the seating and walking area. Best toilets, as in clean and they are western style toilets, in the area.
Even just having a walk from Tafraoute, 4 kilometres, to here for the views while enjoying a drink would be a nice half day out.
Good coffee, moroccan tea and liptons tea are available along with juices. Drinks cost the usual 7-10 dirham per drink. When I noticed liptons tea was available he made it for me in a small tea glass but was happy to oblige transferring it into a large glass with and topping it up with hot water to make the usual sized tea I would have with a tea bag at home.
Lovely views and atmosphere up here!!
There are a number of villages around the Tafraoute area - even in what you think is TAfraoute town - up on hills that are worth a visit.
When taking routes out of town there will be signposts - usually as large concrete painted blocks with romanised name and in arabic - at the main road roadside with the village name on it....sometimes it might look like only a donkey track and this is quite likely the case! though as more Moroccans are now obtaining road vehicles most places will have even a rough piste road for vehicular transport of some sort.
One village that made an excellent drive one afternoon for sunset, and which would make a great hike up, is Amlodrar which is on the left hand side on the road to the painted rocks
Theres a huge old granary on top high up on a hill and behind it are a number of pink houses and old ruins of hourses and a new mosque.
There were very nice views over the landscape with the interesting rock formations creating an interesting horizon, including Napoleon's Hat near Tafraoute
The highest village in Jebel El kest that looks over the Ameln valley is Anergui - am told its not a frequented road as many people dont know its there - and true no traffic whatsoever on our way up or way back down....and just a few shepherd people on the steep hillsides/mountainsides with their sheep and goats on our journey.
But what a trip!! its like 45 degrees all the way, the road is quite narrow in some places but there are places for stopping to take in the dramatic views that go for miles over and around the Ameln valley and towards Tafraoute.
There were even almond trees already in blossom - especially up at the village right at the top. Along with patches of wild lavender and yellow flowers on the road sides. There is a photogenic white mosque up the top and houses with almond trees in their front yards, women in the typical black garb of Tafraoute - and even donkeys - we got quite a few good photos up there. Must be very cold in winter and guess wouldnt drive there at night in the dark at winter.
When you are on your way to Tafraoute through the mountains of the Anti Atlas, you see a varied landscape of coloured mountains, terraces, gorges, valleys and scattered villages in earth colours.
Sometimes the landscape is very green with a lot of trees, then it is barren and then you see again an oued with scattered green.
We liked these changes.
On our way from Agadir to Tafraoute through the Anti Atlas we saw a lot of villages at the hillsides, sometimes at the most unlikely places.
The Tizergane Kasbah, on a solitary hilltop, was one of the most striking ones.
We didn't visit this Berber kasbah, but it's possible. There is some restoration done and you are asked to give a voluntary donation.
Tizergane is 50 KM from Tafraoute.
The route to Tafraoute through the Anti Atlas is very scenic.
There are Berber mud-brick (pise) villages surrounded by cultivated terraces. The terraces are worked mostly by women.
Most Berbers in this area are Souss Chleuh.
The mud-brick villages made of the local natural materials form an unity with their environment. So you have to enlarge the picture to have a good look at the village.
The route from Agadir to Tafraoute leads first through the estuary plains of the Oued Sous, a flat fertile land with argan trees. The argan trees are the ones climbed by goats for the leaves.
Then the route passes through the mountains of the Anti Atlas. There are a lot of villages on the hillside. Just before Tafraoute you pass the Ameln Valley.
In Februari/march the villages around Tafraoute celebrate the almond harvest. The festivities move from village to village.