About Cascades d’Akchour
The Cascades d’Akchour consisted of a lower waterfall and a much taller upper waterfall (pictured above) as well as a handful of other modest waterfalls and cascades sharing the same stream as the main waterfalls. Although we learned on our visit that it wasn’t typical to do this, we also visited the Bridge of God (Le Pont de Dieu), which was an impressively tall natural bridge, on the same day as our long hike to the waterfalls. Actually, Julie and Tahia only went to the lower waterfall, while I did the physical challenge of keeping up with the local guide to get all the way to the upper waterfall and back before it got dark (more on the hike later on in this page). The Upper Akchour Falls could be on the order of about 100m tall while the lower waterfall was probably on the order of 20m or so.
First things first. One thing we weren’t well-armed with on our visit to Akchour was the knowledge of the logistics of how long the hiking truly was. So allow us to bring this down for you right now.
The mostly out-and-back hike to the Bridge of God was on the order of 3-4 hours round trip and it required extensive river walking in the Oued Farda as well as a few tricky steep scrambles and slippery bridge crossings. The out-and-back hike to the Akchour waterfalls involved a one-hour uphill walk on mostly developed trail to the Lower Falls. However, it would take roughly another hour at a minimum (probably more like 90 minutes or two hours at a more leisurely pace) to get from there to the impressive Upper Falls along a narrower and rougher trail (or 5-6 hours round trip at a more reasonable pace to do both waterfalls and come back). We did the full day’s combination of activities as a family to the Bridge of God and the Lower Akchour Falls. However, I trail ran with the guide up to the Upper Akchour Falls and back. All told, we spent about 7 hours away from the car.
For the purposes of this page, we’ll only focus on the waterfall excursion though the Bridge of God excursion was just as exciting and had its share of small waterfalls and cascades. In reality, we actually did a semi-triangular hike from the trailhead to the Bridge of God, then cutting through the main waterfall trail before going up to the lower falls, and then finally the upper falls and back.
The waterfall hike began from a dam flanked by very tall cliffs. This dam not only produced a reservoir with practically clear-as-glass water, but it also seemed to be a magnet for people wishing to go for a dip or a real short swim (though the water here was bitterly cold despite the hot weather). Facing the dam, the trail to the falls started on its left side after crossing the bridge over the river. Meanwhile, the trail to the Bridge of God started on the right side of the dam (i.e. don’t cross the bridge if you’re intending to go to the natural bridge).
While on the waterfall trail, we found that the path was wide and paved for much of the way. There were a handful of shelters, shops, cafes, and even a hotel, along this stretch of the path. Consequently, it was also very busy with families and as well as hardier hikers along this stretch. Throughout this initial stretch of trail, there were plenty of other side distractions from gorge scenery to other smaller cascades for an opportunity to cool off.
After about an hour or so from the trailhead, we made it to the Lower Cascade d’Akchour, which featured a roughly 15m-20m shadowy waterfall up against one side of the gorge wall. Meanwhile, there was a cafe with tables here, which Julie and Tahia proclaimed had a tagine lunch that was just as good as the one that we had at the Sources Oum er-Rbia (prompting her to theorize that in Morocco, the rural places tended to have fresher and better meals than some of the popular restaurants in the city centers). In addition to the cafe and falls, slightly further upstream were more clear pools and smaller cascades as well, which were quite popular amongst many of the visitors. So it was understandable why most people would be satisfied and stop here before turning back for about a two-hour round trip affair.
However, our guide and I continued further on the trail as it got narrower and undulated in a generally uphill manner towards the Upper Akchour Waterfall. At this point, there were far fewer hikers than there were down below. Plus, most of the creek crossings were either direct rock hops or pillar hops (from where there might have been bridges here before). The scenery along this part of the route showcased even more of the V-shaped rugged gorge surrounded by tall and shapely cliffs. If the guide and I weren’t in such a hurry to get to the falls and back, this could’ve very easily been an unforgettable long hike through the best of the accessible Nature that Talassemtane National Park had to offer.
That said, it was still amazing that we passed at least two or three cafes before reaching the last cafe just a few paces downstream of the final destination – the Upper Akchour Falls. I always wondered how the locals managed to bring the supplies for these cafes so far from the nearest road, but then again, I recalled seeing something similar to this phenomenon back at the Setti Fatma Waterfalls, which involved an even trickier hike over uneven rocks with plenty of dropoff exposure. The guide and I managed to do this stretch from the Lower Akchour Falls to the Upper Akchour Falls in only an hour, but I’d imagine that this stretch should require around 90-120 minutes of hiking in each direction at a more reasonable pace.
Anyways, the Upper Akchour Waterfall was at the head of the gorge with a segmented drop of roughly 100m by my estimation over travertine cliffs. The contrast between the reddish cliffs and the thin waters with the travertine formations kind of reminded me of the kind of scenery one might find in the Havasupai area of the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona. It seemed like it was mostly younger and able-bodied folks who found ways to frolick around the falls or have a well-earned meal at the cafe here. I even noticed some who managed to scramble towards the backside of the base of the falls.
As you can see from the photos on this page, the flow of this waterfall was a bit on the thin side. So I could totally envision how the later into the Summer we get, the less this falls would flow until it might dry out completely or merely trickle by mid- to late Summer. Our visit occurred in mid- to late May 2015, which happened to be a year where Morocco seemed to have received pretty good precipitation during the Winter months. In drier years, even more pressure could be put on this falls to perform by this late into the Spring.
The return hike only took the guide and I about 75 minutes to make it all the way back to the cafe area just downstream of the dam at the start of the trail. Again, since we trail ran pretty much the whole way, I’d imagine that it would typically take about 2-3 hours to finish the downhill hiking from the last waterfall to the trailhead.
The trailhead for both the Cascades d’Akchour and the Pont de Dieu (Bridge of God) were from the end of the road through the village of Akchour. It took our driver roughly 45 minutes to an hour to drive here from Chefchaouen, where we were based for a few days.
We can’t give specific directions since we didn’t drive here ourselves. So hopefully the drive times and nearest cities that we’ve provided should be sufficient to help with your trip planning.
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