Ziz Valley runs from the town of Rich to
the edge of the Sahara Desert at Merzouga.
It was once a passage for the caravans
that crossed from sub-Saharan Africa to
The valley has an abundance of palm and
date trees and contains what is probably
Morocco's most important oasis, Tafilalet,
an enormous palm grove fed by the waters
of the Ziz.
The Ziz makes its mark in numerous places
on its journey south, before disappearing
into the sands of Taouz. First there is
the impressive Wadi Ziz, carving out of
the limestone a long corridor lined with
tall palm trees that shade the ksour and
kasbah of Ifri. Then, held back by the
Hassan Addakhil dam, it forms a vast
emerald lake. Women do their washing in it
crouching on its red-ochre shores, cooled
by the shade of the apricot trees.
the Source Bleue de Meski, a natural
spring that spills into a pool, the river
has a reputation for encouraging fertility.
Young women bathe by candlelight in the
waters of this grotto.
The drive south, through Tafilalet to Erfoud
and Rissani, is spectacular. The road
descends from the plateau to the floor of
the sheer-sided valley then winds through
a string of villages. The stark contrast
between the luscious green of the
Tafilalet and the brown barrenness of the
surrounding hills underlines the value of
the Ziz Valley in such an arid region.