About climbing in Akchour Valley
Located in Northern Rif Mountains in Morocco (25km away from Chefchaouen blue city), climbing in Akchour valley ranges from multi-pitch climbing on huge limestone cliffs to single pitch sport and traditional routes. The routes that we climbed were very well bolted. The most impressive wall was in front of the Cafe Rueda - 400 metres cliff with multi pitch climbing. Absolutely breathtaking! Singing donkeys, mint tea, wild dogs, veggie tagine and magical jellabas! Oh my, these things will make your heart smile! Oh, and did I mention unpolished routes?
Tips & Things to know:
1. How to get from Chefchaouen to Akchour valley:
25 km away lies the majestic limestone cliffs of Akchour. In order to get there, you can take private taxi, which is more expensive or shared Grand taxi, which is the cheapest option. These taxis leave once they are full (4 or 6 people depending on the car), but even during the lowest season they fill in quite quickly, so you shouldn't wait more than 15-20 min.
2. Stay in a climbing guesthouse - Cafe Rueda
Climbing guesthouse Cafe Rueda is located in Al Oued, 6km away from Akchour village. Most of the rooms have majestic views of the cliffs (photo on the right - view from our room!), the owner is welcoming, talkative and friendly. The restaurant on site makes delicious veggie tagine and lentil soup.
We eat mostly plant based and they were very accommodating with that. Tagine was huge, and it was perfect and very filling for two hungry people after a long climbing day. Cafe Rueda also has a hand drawn topos as well as guidebook published in 2016.
3. Climbing season is between November to March
Summers are HOT!
We visited Akchour valley in the end of March, beginning of April. Early mornings and nights were refreshing and chilly. However, it was slightly too hot to climb in the sun during the day. Find a crag in the shade during the afternoon. We burnt our faces, as we didn't have sunscreen. Make sure to take that with you!
4. Take healthy snacks with you before arriving to Akchour valley
When we stayed in Cafe Rueda there was only one tiny shop in the village that had white bread, chocolate, olives, jam and some unhealthy snacks. Stock up before arrival!
5. Visit Akchour Waterfall and God's bridge on your rest day Most of the tourists visit Akchour because of the waterfall and God's bridge. It takes around 2 hours one way to get to and is a perfect rest day activity. You can swim under the waterfall, too! It was even more epic than this photo on the left.
6. Learn few phrases in a local language
When I travel I always like to learn some phrases, words and expressions in a local language. To be able to interact and connect with local people more and just simply to be able to order tea and soup or ask directions in their language. Moroccans absolutely loved it. They would have this huge smile on their face and put their hands to their hearts and say how much they appreciate that we speak Moroccan Arabic. If that person was a taxi driver, baker or the owner of a local guesthouse they would also give us quite a local price, too!
Thank you - Shokran; How are you - kīf halek; or also - labas; Hello (or literary May the peace be with you) - As-salaam Alaykum; to respond to As-salaam Alaykum you say: Alaykum As-salaam.
7. Visit and stay for a few nights in the blue city of Chefchaouen (before or after climbing in Akchour)
There are no cars in the old medina, just narrow, tiny winding alleys and walkways, blue little houses everywhere you look. Tiny shops that are selling dried fruits, nuts, bread, mint leaves, baked bread, some fresh fruits and a lot of unhealthy snacks too. People wearing colourful djellabas, drinking super sweet mint tea, cats laying in the sun. Wandering in the old medina and observing the daily life passing by I felt as if being transported back in time. Or to some other magical reality. Chefchaouen is surrounded by hills and mountains and it is beautiful to go for a hike outside the city, too.
8. How to get to Chefchaouen from Tarifa, Spain (Ferry + bus/ grand or private taxi) Only 45 minutes ferry ride from Tarifa (the most southern point in Spain) you arrive to Tangier. Very often ferries are late, so keep that in mind if you plan to catch a bus afterwards. When we travelled to Morocco there were two ferry companies operating from Tarifa and around 14 ferry departures every day. The price was around £50 for the return ticket. Prices are a bit cheaper if you go from Algeciras (Spain) to Tangier Med, but Tangier Med is around 50km away from central Tangier and the ferry takes longer from Algeciras. And! Ferries also tend to be even more late for departing compared to Tarifa - Tangier. So, hands down to the ferry from Tarifa to Tangier Ville.
From Tangier you can take a public bus to the blue city of Chefchaouen operated by CTM. This would be the cheapest option, but probably the slowest, too. If you are in no hurry though, it can be a very interesting cultural experience. Another two options to get to Chefchaouen: private taxi (the most expensive option) and the public grand taxi (the best option in my opinion!). Both taxies and busses are located next to each other, 3km away - walk up the hill from the port of Tangier.
We took a grand taxi from Grand taxis stand. There are also lots of drivers shouting various destination names. Easy! The driver will wait until the car is full. Meaning... Four people sitting in the back of the car and two people in the front seat (yes, plus the driver!). In total 7 people in a car that was 'supposed' to be for 5! Another interesting cultural experience.
9. Drink mint tea and eat tagine
We would start our mornings with mint tea and Moroccan pancakes in the sun. The tea is VERY sweet, so make sure to ask no sugar, if that's what you prefer. Even if you say little sugar - usually two sugar cubes still end up in your tea. And tagine... the delicious veggie tagine. We ate tagine in several different restaurants in Chefchaouen & Tangier, but hands down goes to Cafe Rueda, who made the best veggie tagine we tried in Morocco!
10. Have fun, cuddle dogs, and have a beautiful time in this little hidden paradise of Morocco!
These furry wild fellas in the photos below joined us in the early morning and kept us company throughout the whole day in the mountains and on the rocks. They walked with us, stayed by our side while we climbed and came back to the village later in the evening. Free, wild and full of energy to share. Thank you little doggies, you made our day!
P.s. Don't forget to purchase Travel Insurance that covers rock climbing activities. We used World Nomads and chose their Explorer option. If you purchase insurance from this link, I will get a little commission at no additional cost for you.