Cascades d'Akchour

Chefchaouen / Talassemtane National Park / Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen Province, Morocco

About Cascades d’Akchour

Hiking Distance: 4km round trip (to lower falls only); 10-12km round trip (to upper falls); 13-15km (to both falls and Bridge of God)
Suggested Time: 2 hours (to lower falls); 4 hours (to upper falls); 7-10 hours (to both falls and Bridge of God)

Date first visited: 2015-05-22
Date last visited: 2015-05-22

Waterfall Latitude: 35.21783
Waterfall Longitude: -5.16

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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.

Akchour_102_05222015 - River walking on the Oued Farda to the Pont de Dieu or Bridge of God
River walking on the Oued Farda to the Pont de Dieu or Bridge of God

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.

Akchour_413_05222015 - Looking upstream towards the dam from the bridge fronting the dam at the trailhead
Looking upstream towards the dam from the bridge fronting the dam at the trailhead

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.

Akchour_228_05222015 - On the main waterfall trail going past some buildings and some picnic tables en route
On the main waterfall trail going past some buildings and some picnic tables en route

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.

Akchour_360_05222015 - Looking back at a wide valley en route to the Upper Akchour Waterfall
Looking back at a wide valley en route to the Upper Akchour Waterfall

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.

Akchour_028_05222015 - Dramatic scenery seen along the way to the Akchour village and trailhead
Akchour_053_05222015 - Looking back towards our parking spot as we started walking towards the dam at Akchour
Akchour_055_05222015 - Julie and Tahia taking the path on the right to get to the Bridge of God.  The waterfall trail was on the other side across the bridge
Akchour_072_05222015 - Looking back at the crystal clear reservoir held up by the dam, which seemed to be very inviting for a swim or just to cool off
Akchour_224_05222015 - We took a shortcut trail that connected the Bridge of God Trail to the Waterfalls Trail.  In this photo, we were very close to joining up with the Waterfall Trail
Akchour_231_05222015 - The start of the Waterfall Trail was developed enough that there was even a hotel along the way, shown here at the base of the tall mountains
Akchour_233_05222015 - The trail to the Lower Akchour Waterfall was quite busy and well-defined
Akchour_246_05222015 - This was one of the attractive small waterfalls that we encountered en route to the Lower Cascade d'Akchour
Akchour_259_05222015 - Even for the trail to the Lower Akchour Falls, it passed through lovely gorge scenery where I easily could've stopped and taken more pictures to try to capture the beauty
Akchour_272_05222015 - Finally made it to the first or lower Akchour Waterfall
Akchour_286_05222015 - Some of the younger folks managed to find a way to scramble to the bottom of the Lower Akchour Falls
Akchour_287_05222015 - These were the picnic tables at the cafe by the Lower Akchour Falls
Akchour_300_05222015 - Just upstream from the Lower Akchour Falls were more clear pools and cascades, which seemed to be very friendly for a swim as these folks were doing
Akchour_302_05222015 - Closer look at a few more small cascades seen upstream from the Lower Akchour Falls
Akchour_305_05222015 - Trying to keep up with the guide Mohammed to make it up to the Upper Akchour Falls
Akchour_308_05222015 - The trail to the Upper Akchour Falls was definitely longer, rougher, and a bit more narrow.  Consequently, there were also far fewer hikers than earlier on
Akchour_311_05222015 - The Upper Akchour Falls Trail was also very scenic when I managed to sneak in a break or two
Akchour_324_05222015 - This was a particularly dramatic part of the Upper Akchour Falls trail as we passed through this wide and scenic valley
Akchour_326_05222015 - Still keeping up with Mohammed the guide as we literally trail ran to the Upper Akchour Falls
Akchour_330_05222015 - Approaching the last cafe near the Upper Cascade d'Akchour
Akchour_335_05222015 - Approaching the Upper Cascade d'Akchour where some folks were also having a well-earned dinner from the cafe nearby here
Akchour_348_05222015 - Here's a closer and more direct look at the Upper Cascade d'Akchour with its plunge pool
Akchour_351_05222015 - Here's a slightly more contextual look at the Upper Cascade d'Akchour as I tried to show the cliffs above the falls
Akchour_380_05222015 - Even though Mohammed and I were trail running back from the upper waterfall, we were still passed by this group of very strong hikers
Akchour_384_05222015 - Most of the bridges in the Akchour area seemed to only have their pillars left. I wasn't sure if this was intentional or if they had been washed away. In any case, you have to treat these like rock hops across the streams, but you can't miss or else it could be a very painful fall
Akchour_389_05222015 - Even on the return hike, the scenery was simply beautiful
Akchour_405_05222015 - Finally made it back to the dam near the trailhead
Akchour_417_05222015 - Enjoying the scenery as we were being driven back from Akchour to Chefchaouen
Akchour_067_05222015 - Here's a view over the far end of the reservoir held up by the dam at the trailhead
Akchour_094_05222015 - Looking down into the deep gorge carved out by the Oued Farda. Yep, we were supposed to go into that gorge and hike IN that river!
Akchour_096_05222015 - Julie requiring some assistance to make it down this very steep descent towards the Oued Farda
Akchour_126_05222015 - It was not an easy hike or scramble along the Oued Farda to reach the Bridge of God
Akchour_144_05222015 - This was a tricky river crossing over slippery and dropoff-exposed bridges
Akchour_151_05222015 - The water on the Oued Farda was crystal clear as well as very cold so that helped to offset the heat of the day
Akchour_157_05222015 - Throughout the Oued Farda, there were small cascades like this one
Akchour_196_05222015 - Perhaps what was even more amazing was that there were cafes situated along the river hike like this one
Akchour_167_05222015 - Finally approaching the Bridge of God after hiking for nearly two hours from the dam
Akchour_217_05222015 - After visiting the Bridge of God, this was the crossing of the Oued Farda on the connecting trail to the Waterfalls Trail


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.

Chefchaouen was about two hours drive or so from Tangier and about 3.5 hours drive from Fes.

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.

Checking out the impressive upper waterfall after a rigorous hike just to get here

Checking out the area around the lower waterfall, which includes a cafe as well as other cascades and swimming holes further upstream

Bottom up and back down sweep of the Bridge of God as well as some tiny cascades further downstream

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Tagged with: chefchaouen, rif, talassemtane, national park, akchour, morocco, waterfall, africa, bridge of god

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