Hiking to Akchour Waterfalls in Morocco | Know BEFORE You Go
Before we began our hike to Akchour, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into as there was no concrete mileage or elevation about Akchour reported. I have made a rough calculation and comparison of this hike to Angel's Landing in Utah. All the details about this hike I have included below but wanted to tell you about my experience of Hiking to Akchour Grand Cascade Waterfall to help you have a wonderful and prepared experience.
I had just arrived in Chefchaouen the night before with my friend Omar, after a nearly 2-hour drive from Rabat. I had been traveling through Morocco for 2 weeks with very little sleep and was completely exhausted when I started this hike.
So my first tip is to do this hike when you are well-rested and hydrated. If I had done this any other day, not while I was feeling ill, dehydrated, and exhausted - it would have been a Moderate hike with beautiful surroundings. That being said, here is my personal experience when hiking to Akchour and some of the tips and mistakes I made when doing it.
It was cooler in the mountains than I expected, so make sure to bring a jacket (especially if you were sunburned from Marrakech like I was). There were a few clouds resting on the mountainside which gave this place even more of a mysterious and magical feeling than before. When you come to Chefchaouen, you feel as if it is the calmest place on the planet. The locals are very welcoming to tourists and incredibly helpful. The locals don't get irritated with travelers like other popular destinations I have seen or lived in.
The Night Before Hiking to Akchour Waterfalls
We went to grab dinner at the old Medina in Chefchaouen, hiking up the narrow passageways to the center of town. Omar picked a café that had quite a few locals in it as this is how Moroccans pick which restaurant is the best when traveling. We sat down to order our Tagines and I was so tired to the point I wasn't that hungry anymore and just ordered some simple vegetables.
I figured I could grab some food before heading out to the hike, but many local Moroccans don't eat breakfast, and many shops don't open until 11 am and we were heading out much earlier than that. So grab a granola bar or two before going to bed the night before and make sure to include some protein.
Omar kept telling me, "the hike to Akchour waterfalls is hard Janiel, its 1 hour and 30 minutes hike" -- well he looked about the same physical shape I was in, and I had been working with a trainer, so I thought, "Oh, I'll be fine, he doesn't know what he is talking about." That was my second mistake.....
Finding Our Way To Akchour Waterfalls from Chefchaouen
We left for Akchour and had a little trouble finding the way, but after asking several locals the correct roads to take, we were able to arrive in time to start (and finish) the hike.
There are a lot of bumpy dirt roads we traveled on to get there, but I feel like that was partly because we got a bit lost on the way. As Akchour becomes more popular with tourists I'm sure there will be more and more Grand Taxis that can easily make their way to Akchour without getting lost.
You can catch a Grand Taxi in the center of town but try and get a local or the hotel/hostel/guest house personnel to negotiate a good price for you. A fair price would be around 250 Dirham (with tip included), which is around $25. Just make sure they are willing to take you back into town as well. Bring extra cash with you for the return trip to Chefchaouen and for a tagine at the end of the hike.
The road to Akchour passes through some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen in all of my travels. I literally filled my 64 GB memory card with hundreds of images of this breathtaking scenery. That is the one advantage of having a local guide and friend in Morocco, is that you can stop to take photos wherever and whenever you would like.
Arriving In Akchour
Once we got to Akchour, it was fairly easy to find the trail. There are plenty of locals there to point you in the right direction (but don't expect many of them to know English). We started hiking up the canyon (where the sign points to Akchour), and the first thing that immediately impressed me was the endless swaths of green and the waterfalls that seemed to appear around every corner.
I know you may think that I keep showing you the same waterfall over and over, but each one of these waterfalls is uniquely different and special in their own way. Each waterfall had a swimming hole, that is quite deep, and on a hot summer day is great to pause you hike and take a quick dip to cool off.
There are small eateries and plenty of places to grab a bottle of water along the way if you have the local currency. None of the shops or the tagine eatery at the top have credit card machines.
The Hike to Akchour Waterfalls
The hike to Akchour waterfalls itself is said to take around 2-3 hours. That is if you are used to the high altitude of the Atlas Mountains and can tackle the steep elevations of the trail. Yes, there are steps you can use, the trail is well maintained, but the steps are made for tall people.....not short people. So be prepared, it's like when my trainer has me doing box steps onto the 24" box step, for 2 hours.
From my own calculations from this Topographic Map of the area, it looks like the hike is around 7 km or 4.3 miles to get there with about 1,500 feet gain in elevation on the way up. If anyone calculates this differently that has been to the Grand Cascade D'Akchour from the trailhead, then please leave it in the comments below. The trail itself is easy to follow and plenty of local Berbers along the way will point you in the right direction. So comparatively it is about the same difficulty level as going to Angel's Landing in Utah (4.4 miles, 1,604 ft in elevation gain) which AllTrails rates as hard.
While I've had people tell me that they have done this hike no issues, felt it was very easy, and anyone with a basic knowledge of hiking could do it. I always like to be cautious and very detailed about the trails I talk about because you don't want to be stranded, hurt yourself when traveling in a country where you may not be used to the healthcare system.
At the first hour of the hike to Akchour waterfalls, I felt like I was getting a good workout. Then we started to get to the steeper portions, and I started to lag behind my giraffe-like friends, who at one point I was cursing in my head for their ridiculous Berber Moroccan height.
TALL PEOPLE JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH HARDER IT IS TO GO UP THE GIANT 24" -32" STEPS! It takes us a lot more effort and energy! (ok, rant over) -- I know I'm not in the best shape, but I had been working out really hard and felt like I could tackle this. They were going really fast up the hill for me, so be sure to hike with people who go at your same pace.
I was positive the whole trip, but the 20 minutes up the canyon was tough for me personally and I did become a bit grumpy and complain a few times. I didn't realize how hard it would be, even Omar started to get tired by the end of it. My legs felt like Jello, my mind growled, "I'm going to die in these mountains, just like the Spanish did when they tried to invade". I know, a bit dramatic, sorry.
I think the travel fatigue had set in full force. I had been traveling for two weeks non-stop and had Montezuma's revenge set in the week before I attempted this hike.
There were some blessed spots along the way that leveled out & I wanted to just linger longer in these areas to soak up the beauty and take more photos. Alas, this was not possible to do, as a storm was coming in and we had to get there and head back to travel to the next destination.
Seeing the Waterfalls of Akchour
We finally arrived at the Cascades D'Akchour, and it was soooo cold! The storm winds had started to set in, and I was quite sweaty so I got cold very quickly. Omar was so excited to show me the waterfall, it truly was beautiful and I just sat in one of the chairs enjoying the relief of making it to the waterfall.
I was visiting the waterfall during the Fall months, so there was water still streaming down, but during the summer months I hear it can be a little sparse as much of the water from above is used for farming and irrigation purposes - so plan your hike accordingly.
This hike is still one of my favorite hikes I have ever done and I would love to go back and tackle it again, as I know now what to expect and how to prepare. I will definitely be taking a proper swimming suit on my next visit as I just jumped in fully clothed (didn't want to go home thinking 'what if I would have').
Omar is a hilarious and kind human being, he just laid back in the water taking selfies like he was in a hot tub. He also had a Cigar that was given to him that he had been saving for an entire year, just to come and smoke in these waters and take a selfie, lol. He really lives his life to the fullest and tries to bring everyone around him on his grand adventures.
The water below the waterfalls had to be around 40 degrees F, very very very cold, especially after a hike. I didn't really want to hike back wet, but Omar convinced me, 'You don't travel to a country like this, do that hike like you did, and not reward yourself with this amazing swim. Don't waste an opportunity like this, this is when you create good memories'. Well, he sold me on the idea, and I went in for a dip. If you decide to swim, I would recommend just wearing wicking material & go in fully clothed, it's nice to have the cool clothing on you when you are hiking back.
The swim was great, and I stayed in about 15 minutes because it was actually making my legs feel so good. It was like a natural ice bath for my exhausted legs, and I really really appreciated that the next day. (If you think I'm exaggerating about this hike, there were some other Americans there that came up and looked about the same way I probably did - completely knackered. It's not just about your fitness level-- these mountain valleys are the reason the Spanish Armada was defeated here).
A Cold Swim and GREAT Food
We got done swimming and had this wonderful tagine that was cooked by the locals right there. They were so nice and let us sit by their stoves to keep warm for a bit. We ate our fill, drank the delicious mint tea & decided to head back down the mountain to get back into Chefchaouen before dark and before the incoming storm.
Once I had a little food in my stomach, and stopped being so 'hangry', I was able to keep up with the guys pretty well. Took plenty of photos on the way back down, and couldn't believe how good I felt after taking the dip in the waters of the Cascades D'Akchour. I was very grateful he took his weekend to travel up to Chefchaouen and show me around Akchour.
I have never been one to hesitate on things like that until some experiences in Dallas changed me into something I didn't recognize myself as being.
But for some reason, ever since my hike to Akchour waterfalls, the spontaneity came back to me, and it was the first time I felt happy and like giggling (like the old me), in nearly a year. So if you are ever looking for magical waters in Morocco, this is the place to be, in my own way I have now named it the 'Fountain of Youth'. Because when you leave, you really feel like you have become the young, free and your spontaneous self again.
Happy Travels my friends, and don't hesitate to go and see this wonderful Fountain of Youth in Akchour.
Where to Stay near Akchour
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My name is Janiel, I specialize in solo female travel, cultural connections, sustainable adventures, food and history to help make your travel experiences fun, meaningful, and delicious. My experience in travel, and my personal story have allowed me to get published in Fodor's Travel, Atlas Obscura, Metro.co.uk, Trip Advisor, and multiple Podcast interviews. You can find me on pretty much every social media channel YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok. To read more about me and my story click here. If you are a brand and would like to work with me, click here.