The Tinghir oasis stretches for some fifty kilometers, the most impressive part of which is the Todgha Gorges, carved out of the rock by the river of the same name, giving rise to 300-meter-high limestone cliffs. The splendid canyons impress with their spectacular peaks that plunge right down to the riverbed, making them a paradise for climbers and hikers alike.
The Todgha Gorges play a key role in the valley, not only in protecting the course of the river that irrigates the fields and paradise-like palm groves, but also because of their symbolic function and identity for the region’s population since the dawn of time.
Morocco‘s grand canyon
The Todgha gorges create a gigantic, verdant rift in the middle of an arid zone, which the local population has succeeded in developing thanks to ingenious, ancestral irrigation systems known as tirgiwin, or canals in Amazigh or seguias in Arabic. From the river, they feed the valley and its villages, supporting a polyculture of olives, apples, almonds, apricots, cereals and alfalfa. The valley has also preserved its many centuries-old ksours and kasbahs, which stretch along the wadi. In short, a veritable cultural heritage reminiscent of the region’s glorious past.
As for the peaks of the gorges, they offer backdrops worthy of Western films. From the heights, panoramic views stretch for hundreds of kilometers, as far as the desert to the south and the High Atlas to the north. From the road overlooking the magnificent oasis, you can capture precious images of the magnificent landscapes, rivalling in contrasts from the ochre-red of the walls to the blue-green of the valley.
Often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Morocco, the Todgha Valley is renowned for its breathtaking cliffs and challenging trails. On foot or by mountain bike, there are numerous hikes to choose from, ranging from a few hours’ stroll around the valleys to treks lasting several days in the farthest reaches of the region.
Between cliffs, ravines and rivers, adventurers will explore a spectacular and grandiose natural environment, and discover the cultural diversity of the local farming populations, including those of the nomadic tribes. A number of climbing spots are equipped, but you’ll need to be accompanied by a professional to negotiate them.
Highlights include Ait Tizgui, which dominates the entrance to the gorge, the 2100m-high Agart Noro pass and the village of Tamtatoucht, the Rose du Todgha.
The Todgha valley has a long history of silver mining, and historical sources mention the minting of its coins by Jewish craftsmen in the 8th century.
It was in this context that the first Moroccan monetary workshop (Dar as-Sakka) appeared, near a silver mine, under the authority of the mid-Radid Kharijite Emirate of Sijilmassa, which minted coins for the Idrissids in 788, as well as for the Aghlabids of Ifniqiya (present-day Tunisia). The Idrissids also minted in the town of Ziz in Tafilalet in 793.
Todgha was made up of several fortified Ksours, each independent of the others and including a number of mellahs. The town of Tinghir was built around the remains of Todgha and has inherited its memory, hence the great symbolism of the gorges for the locals.