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: -5.1382

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The Cascades d’Akchour consisted of a lower waterfall and a much taller upper waterfall as well as a handful of other modest waterfalls and cascades sharing the same stream.

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.

Akchour_335_05222015 - The Upper Cascade d'Akchour Waterfall
The Upper Cascade d’Akchour Waterfall

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 (pictured above) could be on the order of about 100m tall while the lower waterfall was probably on the order of 20m or so.

In addition to its height, a distinguishing feature of the scenic upper waterfall was the travertine formations flanked by mossy green growth contrasting the red color from the neighboring cliffs.

Meanwhile, the lower waterfall featured a calm natural swimming area just upstream of its drop.

Akchour_193_05222015 - The Bridge of God (le Pont de Dieu) and the Oued Farda river
The Bridge of God (le Pont de Dieu) and the Oued Farda river

As for the Bridgge of God, it was a very tall natural bridge that was carved through by the Oued Farda (or Farda River), which was a different stream than the one responsible for the waterfalls.

Hiking Logistics

I mentioned earlier that it was atypical to visit the Bridge of God (le Pont de Dieu) with both of the main Akchour Waterfalls in a day.

The main reason why was because the Bridge of God involved a rough and steep hike that took us about 3-4 hours round trip.

Meanwhile, the hike to the Upper Akchour Falls (which encompasses the Lower Akchour Falls) took at least 5-6 hours at a reasonable pace.

Akchour_102_05222015 - The tricky scramble in the Oued Farda river to reach the Bridge of God (le Pont de Dieu)
The tricky scramble in the Oued Farda river to reach the Bridge of God (le Pont de Dieu)

That said, if you turn around at the lower waterfall, then it might just take around 2 hours round trip.

The hike to le Pont de Dieu involved extensive river walking within the Oued Farda, and it included a few tricky steep scrambles and slippery bridge crossings.

There was also a steep descent and climb to get in and out of the Oued Farda gorge.

By comparison, the hike to the second (upper) of the Cascades d’Akchour was on a much more tame trail with fewer hazards to deal with.

Akchour_282_05222015 - The Lower Cascade d'Akchour Waterfall
The Lower Cascade d’Akchour Waterfall

However, it was a much longer hike, and it was mostly uphill on the way to both waterfalls.

Julie and Tahia managed to do both the Bridge of God and the Lower Akchour Falls on the same day with the help of local guides.

On the other hand, I went against conventional wisdom (and against the advice of people trying to talk me out of it) and went all the way to the Upper Akchour Falls in addition to the Bridge of God.

It was a very long and demanding day of physical activity, and it actually involved a bit of trail running to keep up with the local guide who reluctantly went along with me.

Akchour_324_05222015 - Keeping up with the local guide who took me up to the Upper Cascade d'Akchour Waterfall
Keeping up with the local guide who took me up to the Upper Cascade d’Akchour Waterfall

All told, we spent about 7 hours away from the car.

In any case, while le Pont de Dieu (the Bridge of God) had its share of small waterfalls and cascades, for the purposes of this write-up, we’ll only focus on the hike to both of les Cascades d’Akchour (the Akchour Waterfalls).

The Hike to the Lower Cascade d’Akchour Waterfall

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.

Akchour_413_05222015 - Looking upstream from the bridge at the trailhead towards the dam. The waterfall trail crossed this bridge and kept left of this river, but the Pont de Dieu hike following the trail to the right side of this river
Looking upstream from the bridge at the trailhead towards the dam. The waterfall trail crossed this bridge and kept left of this river, but the Pont de Dieu hike following the trail to the right side of this river

That said, the water here was bitterly cold despite the hot weather.

Facing the dam, the trail to the Akchour Waterfalls 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).

Anyways, keeping left to go 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.

Akchour_228_05222015 - On the main Cascades d'Akchour waterfall trail going past some buildings and some picnic tables en route
On the main Cascades d’Akchour waterfall trail going past some buildings and some picnic tables en route

Consequently, it was also very busy with families and as well as hardier hikers.

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 drop up against one side of the gorge wall.

In the immediate area, there was a cafe with tables, 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.

Akchour_300_05222015 - The swimming hole just upstream from the Lower Cascade d'Akchour Waterfall
The swimming hole just upstream from the Lower Cascade d’Akchour Waterfall

That prompted Julie 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 clear pools and smaller cascades that were quite popular for swimming or just cooling off.

So it was understandable why most people would be satisfied and stop here before turning back for about a two-hour round trip affair.

The Hike to the Upper Cascade d’Akchour Waterfall

Leaving Julie and Tahia with our driver at the Lower Akchour Falls, I accompanied my guide on the ambitious push to continue to the Upper Akchour Falls.

Akchour_308_05222015 - Continuing on the narrow trail alongside the Akchour Stream while still trying to keep up with the local guide en route to the Upper Akchour Falls
Continuing on the narrow trail alongside the Akchour Stream while still trying to keep up with the local guide en route to the Upper Akchour Falls

Almost immediately beyond the Lower Akchour Falls, the trail became narrower and undulated in a generally uphill manner.

At this point, there were far fewer hikers than there were down at the trail to the lower waterfall 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.

Akchour_326_05222015 - Continuing along the lengthy trail through varied terrain on the way up to the Upper Cascade d'Akchour Waterfall
Continuing along the lengthy trail through varied terrain on the way up to the Upper Cascade d’Akchour Waterfall

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.

Akchour_330_05222015 - Passing through some infrastructure revolving around a cafe situated near the base of the Upper Akchour Falls
Passing through some infrastructure revolving around a cafe situated near the base of the Upper Akchour Falls

The guide and I managed to do this stretch from the Lower Akchour Falls to the Upper Akchour Falls in only an hour.

However, 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.

Akchour_351_05222015 - The Upper Cascade d'Akchour Waterfall. Notice the person standing behind the base of the waterfall at the bottom of this picture to get a sense of scale of how tall the falls is!
The Upper Cascade d’Akchour Waterfall. Notice the person standing behind the base of the waterfall at the bottom of this picture to get a sense of scale of how tall the falls is!

It seemed like it was mostly younger and able-bodied folks who found ways to frolick around the Upper Akchour Falls.

Either that or they might 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.

Akchour_384_05222015 - Following a group of hikers who crossed a series of pillars that apparently used to hold up a bridge on the hike between the Lower and Upper Akchour Falls
Following a group of hikers who crossed a series of pillars that apparently used to hold up a bridge on the hike between the Lower and Upper Akchour Falls

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 at the trailhead (just downstream of the dam).

Akchour_389_05222015 - Continuing the long descent back towards Akchour after having had our fill of the Upper Akchour Falls, and trying to get to the trailhead before dark
Continuing the long descent back towards Akchour after having had our fill of the Upper Akchour Falls, and trying to get to the trailhead before dark

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 Cascade d’Akchour Waterfall to the trailhead.

Authorities

The Cascades d’Akchour (Akchour Waterfalls) reside just outside Talassemtane National Park near the village of Akchour in the Rif Mountains of the Chefchaouen Province in Morocco. I don’t think the waterfalls are administered by any formal authority, but I’m guessing there are locals who are motivated to maintain the trails for commerce. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you may get leads from the Morocco National Tourism website.

Akchour_040_05222015 - Approaching the village of Akchour and the start of our hike to the Cascades d'Akchour
Akchour_053_05222015 - Looking back towards our parking spot as we started walking towards the dam at Akchour
Akchour_055_05222015 - Approaching the dam at Akchour. The bridge crossing the river led to the Cascades d'Akchour, but the path on the right (where Julie and Tahia were headed in this photo) actually went to the Bridge of God. For the purposes of this write-up, we'll follow the photos of the waterfall hike first.
Akchour_061_05222015 - Looking back towards the bridge leading to the trail going up to the Cascades d'Akchour
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 from somewhere upstream of the dam and closer to the hotel
Akchour_231_05222015 - The start of the Cascades d'Akchour 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 of the place
Akchour_272_05222015 - Finally made it to the first or lower Akchour Waterfall, where it was a bit awkward to try to get a good look at it
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, where Julie swore that she had a very good chicken tagine
Akchour_302_05222015 - Closer look at a few more small cascades seen upstream from the Lower Akchour Falls as my local guide and I rushed to get up to the Upper Akchour Falls
Akchour_305_05222015 - Trying to keep up with the guide Mohammed to make it up to the Upper Akchour Falls
Akchour_311_05222015 - The Upper Akchour Falls Trail was also very scenic when I managed to sneak in a break or two along this section of a mitigated landslide
Akchour_328_05222015 - Returning to the lush forested terrain en route to the Upper Cascades d'Akchour
Akchour_329_05222015 - The trail to the Upper Cascades d'Akchour narrowed and followed along the roots and embankments of the Akchour Stream
Akchour_340_05222015 - Finally making it up to the Upper Cascade d'Akchour Waterfall, which was well worth the effort to make it up here
Akchour_348_05222015 - Here's a closer and more direct look at the Upper Cascade d'Akchour with its plunge pool as I made it all the way up to its base
Akchour_353_05222015 - Last look at the Upper Cascade d'Akchour before making the rush downhill back to the trailhead
Akchour_357_05222015 - Looking downstream from the cafe area near the Upper Cascade d'Akchour Waterfall
Akchour_360_05222015 - Following my guide Mohammed back through the scenic valley on the Upper Cascade d'Akchour Waterfall Trail
Akchour_367_05222015 - Context of the trail and the steep cliffs along the Upper Cascade d'Akchour Trail as seen on the return hike
Akchour_376_05222015 - Mohammed checking up on me to see if I'm keeping up with him on the return hike from the Upper Cascade d'Akchour Waterfall
Akchour_379_05222015 - Going back across this mitigated landslide section of the Upper Akchour Waterfall Trail
Akchour_380_05222015 - Even though Mohammed and I were trail running back from the Upper Akchour Waterfall, we were still passed by this group of very strong hikers
Akchour_382_05222015 - One of the pillared stream crossings that was supposed to have held up a footbridge unless it got washed away earlier in the year (on the Upper Cascade d'Akchour Trail)
Akchour_405_05222015 - Finally made it back to the dam near the trailhead after the long descent from the Upper Akchour Falls
Akchour_407_05222015 - Looking downstream towards the footbridge leading us back to the village of Akchour where our driver as well as Julie and Tahia were waiting for us
Akchour_409_05222015 - Mohammed cooling his feet off after our strenuous trail run to the Upper Akchour Falls and back
Akchour_410_05222015 - Looking back across the reservoir towards the trail that led to the Bridge of God (or Pont de Dieu)
Akchour_072_05222015 - The next series of photos cover the hike to Pont de Dieu (or Bridge of God). Here's a look 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_067_05222015 - Here's a view over the far end of the reservoir held up by the dam at the trailhead at Akchour
Akchour_083_05222015 - Following the trail alongside the Oued Farda River towards the Pont de Dieu
Akchour_093_05222015 - Continuing along the trail past some beautiful blooming wildflowers leading us towards the Pont de Dieu
Akchour_094_05222015 - Looking ahead into the deep gorge carved out by the Oued Farda. Yep, we were supposed to go into that gorge and hike IN that river in pursuit of the Pont de Dieu (Bridge of God)!
Akchour_096_05222015 - Julie requiring some assistance to make it down this very steep descent towards the Oued Farda en route to the Bridge of God
Akchour_099_05222015 - Stream walking in the Oued Farda with our guide Mohammed on the way to the Bridge of God
Akchour_119_05222015 - Negotiating some obstacles alongside the Oued Farda on our river scramble to the Pont de Dieu
Akchour_123_05222015 - Hiking along the Oued Farda River deep in the gorge leading to the Pont de Dieu
Akchour_126_05222015 - It was neither an easy hike nor scramble along the Oued Farda to reach the Bridge of God
Akchour_143_05222015 - More hiking alongside the Oued Farda and some intermediate cascades along the way to the Pont de Dieu
Akchour_144_05222015 - This was a tricky river crossing over slippery and dropoff-exposed bridges en route to the Pont de Dieu
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 as we made the tough scramble to the Pont de Dieu
Akchour_157_05222015 - Throughout the Oued Farda en route to the Pont de Dieu, 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_162_05222015 - Context of another small cascade across from a cafe or shelter while hiking up to the Pont de Dieu
Akchour_164_05222015 - A dog decided to follow us while making our way up to the Pont de Dieu
Akchour_167_05222015 - Finally approaching the Bridge of God (Pont de Dieu) after hiking for nearly two hours from the dam
Akchour_211_05222015 - Following this group of guys back from the Pont de Dieu after having climbed out of the gorge
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
Akchour_417_05222015 - Enjoying the scenery as we were being driven back from Akchour to Chefchaouen
Akchour_424_05222015 - Enjoying more of the scenery from the road between Akchour and Chefchaouen to end off our epic day of hiking

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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.

Akchour_028_05222015 - Taking the road leading to the village of Akchour and the start of our hikes to les Cascades d'Akchour et le Pont de Dieu
Taking the road leading to the village of Akchour and the start of our hikes to les Cascades d’Akchour et le Pont de Dieu

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

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



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