In this article, you’ll find everything you need to see and do while in the Todra gorges and Tinerhir (Morocco), including rock climbing, where to eat, where to stay and how to get around.
The Todgra Gorges are a series of river canyons, in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco. You can find them near Tinerhir, a town full of abandoned mud castles and they’re only a couple of hours away from Merzouga, a small desert town famous for its camel trips in the Sahara.
There is something about the Todra Gorges that captured my imagination from the very first moment I walked between their huge rock walls 5 years ago. Even today, I can’t really explain how I felt when I first arrived there. Small, infinitely small, surrounded by walls that had been carved over the course of millions of years. It was a humbling experience.
These huge rock walls now attract rock climbers from all around the world who want to ascend the hundreds of routes of solid, reddish limestone.
If rock climbing isn’t really your thing, there are plenty more ways to explore this pristine region of Morocco. There is a 14 km long palm grove that extends from Tinerhir to the gorges, surrounded from one end to another by abandoned mud castles (also called Ksar).
If you love a good hike, there are many beautiful trails in the mountains beyond the gorge. You might even discover some rustic Berber villages where you can enjoy a cup of tea with the nomads of this region.
In this guide, I give you an overview of all the activities you can do while you are near the Todra gorges. I also added some great suggestions of where to stay in Tinerhir and how to get to the Todra gorges by public transport.
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Top things to do in and around Tinerhir
Tinerhir is the closest town to the Todra gorges (14 km). It serves as an excellent base to explore the region, do some rock climbing and visit its beautiful palm grove.
Here are the top five things to do in Tinerhir and the Todra Gorges:
1. Rock climbing in the Todra Gorges
Morocco has high mountain ranges going from the coast all the way to the High Atlas, making the country a prime destination for rock climbers from all over the world.
The Todra Gorges are currently one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in Morocco. This canyon became more and more popular over the last years and has more than 400 different climbing routes. Despite their growing popularity, the gorges don’t feel crowded at all.
Some routes in the gorges are very well bolted but you will also come across poorly bolted ones. A good part of the rebolting and maintenance of the routes have been done by Aventure Verticale.
- Where to rent rock climbing equipment for the Todra Gorges
You can rent rock climbing equipment directly at the entrance of the gorge at the Aventure Verticale shop. They have a huge selection of ropes, harness, helmets, quickdraws, carabiners, climbing shoes and almost everything else you could need to go rock climbing.
The shop is located in Tizgui village about 400 meters before the entrance of the gorges. Visit their website to find a complete list of the equipment and prices.
- How difficult are the rock climbing routes in the Todra Gorges?
The routes in the Todra Gorges cover a wide range of difficulty levels. If you’re a beginner, it’s a great place to learn how to climb. The rocks are solid reddish compact limestone and you can find climbing routes from the 4a to the 8c French grades directly in the gorges.
It’s good to know your climbing level before attempting to summit any of these routes. If you want to have an overview of the most popular routes and their difficulty level, check the Climb Morocco website.
Aventures Verticales has recently printed a topo of most of the climbing routes in the surrounding area which you can buy at their shop in front of the gorges.
- Guided climbing in the Todgha gorges
It’s possible to arrange guided climbs ahead of time in Marrakesh or directly at the gorges with different companies.
If you’re in Marrakesh, contact Climb Morocco to organize a guided climb to the Todra Gorges. This is an American company based in Marrakesh. They have experienced guides who are fully trained in single- and multi-pitch climbing and they can also assist you in renting the necessary equipment.
If you arrive directly in Tinerhir without passing through Marrakesh, you can also organize a guided climb with Aventure Verticale by visiting their shop at the entrance of the gorges or by contacting them online.
2. Hiking above the Todra gorges and visiting Berber troglodyte villages
If you are not a rock climber, don’t worry, the mountains surrounding the gorges have some amazing hiking trails that will bring you through beautiful Berber settlements. If you’re lucky, you might even get invited for a tea with the Berber people.
A hike I would recommend is the Todra Loop hike. It’s a good three-hour hike in the mountains above the gorge. The trail starts at the northern end of the gorges and will take you to Tizgui, a Berber village located at the southern entrance of the gorges.
To get to the trail-head, you’ll have to cross the gorge towards the northern exit until you arrive at the last merchant stalls selling necklaces and traditional Moroccan clothes. There you will see a trail leading uphill to the left exiting the main road. The first part of the trail consists of cement stairs.
Regular passage of Berber shepherds walking with their goats, donkeys, and mules keep this trail well defined. The trail will split a few times but keep taking the path that goes upwards towards the left.
After arriving at the first pass, the trail gradually heads down toward the south-eastern direction. If you continue in this direction, you will see a Berber settlement where you can enjoy tea with the few families who live there.
Once you reach this settlement, continue following the trail towards the second pass where you can descend to the Berber village of Tizgui. From there you can walk through the palm grove back to the gorges or towards the village of Tinerhir.
3. Exploring the abandoned Ksour of Tinerhir
A ksar is a North-African term meaning “Berber castle”.This term usually refers to a Berber fortified village. The area between Tinerhir and the Todra gorges is full of old abandoned Ksour ( the plural of Ksar) in different states of deterioration.
These old abandoned mud-brick castles are really fun to explore. Be careful as some of these castles are literally falling apart and parts of the walls could fall down while you are walking below in the streets.
One of the most interesting Ksour of Tinerhir is the Ksar Asfalou. It’s located on the side of a huge cliff and has a very particular architecture. This is a Ksar where Muslim and Jewish students once used to study together under the same roof. You can access this Ksar by following the paved road from Tinerhir towards the gorges for about 5 km. Then you’ll have to cross the palm grove on a trail to reach this mud castle. In doubt ask the locals, they will be pleased to show you the way there.
Another very interesting Ksar to visit in Tinerhir is called Ksar Tinerhir. It also goes by the name of the ”Jewish quarter”. It’s one of the few Ksour that continue to be inhabited in the Todra valley because it has a sewer system and electricity. This is where you can find the hostel Hike and Chill where we stayed when we visited Tinerhir.
Ksar Tinerhir aka The Jewish Quarter
4. Visiting the Mosque Ikalalne Afanour
A 30-minute walk through the palm grove will bring you from Ksar Tinerhir to the even older and much more desolated Ksar Afanour. There’s a very ancient mosque at the entrance of this mud fort called Mosque Ikalalne. This mosque is usually guarded by a very friendly old man who will be happy to tell you about its history and the current restoration projects.
Mosque Ikalane looks like a simple mud-brick building with a brown pointy cupola and is one of the few mosques you’ll be allowed to visit when in Morocco. There are no official entrance fees but if you give a small donation to the old man for the restoration work, it will be very welcome.
This is the man in charge of the restoration work of the mosque
5. Visit the Tinerhir Souqs (open-air markets)
Open air markets are a major part of Moroccan life and it’s probably the best way to discover everything about the Moroccan culture. From traditional clothes to food and spices, it’s all there in one place. Whether or not you actually have the intention of buying something, going to a Souq in Morocco is a cultural experience that should not be missed on a trip to this beautiful country.
Every Monday, an enormous Souq is held in Tinerhir 2.5 km west of the city center on the road towards Ouarzazate. It’s a huge market where you’ll see plenty of people sporting their traditional clothes while haggling over various goods. You’ll find an extraordinary diversity of products in this open-air market.
On Sundays, there is a small vegetable market in the same location while on Saturdays, it is cattle and livestock sellers who will congregate to the area.
6. Getting lost in the palm grove of Tinerhir
The 14 km long oasis in the Todra valley is one of the greenest and most lush palm groves of Morocco. No trip to Tinerhir would be complete without taking at least a bit of time to walk under the canopy of the tall palm trees that grow in this beautiful grove.
This grove is lush all year round thanks to the water of the Todra river and a complex system of canals that irrigates the palm trees, olive trees, fig trees, pomegranate trees, and other fruit trees in the valley.
The paved road that goes from Tinerhir to the gorges overlooks this valley and has many beautiful viewpoints where you can stop and admire the ksar down in the oasis. It’s also possible to walk directly in the valley by following paths that link all the small Berber villages of the oasis together.
The best time to visit the Todra Gorges and Tinerhir
The best time of the year to visit Tinerhir and the Todra Gorges is in spring or in fall between March and May or between September and November. During that period of the year, the weather is not as hot and you will be able to enjoy your time in the mountains much more. The temperature in summer reaches highs of 104°F (40°C) with temperatures rarely dropping below 80°F (26.7°C) at night.
The climbing season in the Todra gorges is almost all year long since there is always a rock wall in the sun or in the shade. However, do remember that the gorge can be extremely hot during summer. If you want to see a complete chart of the varying weather conditions throughout the year in the gorges, have a look at the Climb Todra website.
How to get to the Todra Gorges and Tinerhir
The Todra Gorges are located in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, near the town of Tinerhir and north of Merzouga. They are easily accessible from Marrakesh and great to combine with a desert trip to Merzouga.
- How to get to the Todra Gorges from Marrakesh by bus
Getting a bus out of Marrakesh is relatively easy. You can find a Supratour or a CTM bus to Tinerhir at the main Marrakesh bus station. This bus station is located almost adjacent to the train station in Marrakesh.
The ticket prices for these 2 bus companies are almost the same and the CTM timetables and ticket prices can be found here. The trip from Marrakesh to Tinerhir takes about 6 hours and a half and this usually includes a break somewhere along the way.
- How to get to the Todra Gorges from Marrakesh with your own car
If you have your own car, the fastest way to get to the Todra gorges and Tinerhir from Marrakesh is by following the highways N9 and N10. From Marrakesh, you will have to drive south in the direction of Ouarzazate on the N9 and from there towards the east on the highway N10. The distance between Marrakesh and Tinerhir is 362 km and getting there should take about 6 hours and a half.
- How to get to the Todra Gorges from Merzouga by bus and shared taxis
Merzouga and Tinerhir share many similar things. Both are towns inhabited mainly by Berbers and they are located so close to each other that it’s super convenient to explore them one after the other.
It is possible to get to Tinerhir from Merzouga by bus, shared taxis or with your own car. There is a Supratour bus leaving Merzouga every morning at 7:30 towards Tinerhir.
You could also take a shared taxi from Merzouga to Rissani. There you can catch a new taxi to Tinjdad and from there, one to Tinerhir.
- How to get to the Todra Gorges from Merzouga with your own car
The distance between Merzouga and Tinerhir is 200 km and driving there takes about 3 hours. Simply follow the highway N13 towards the north until you reach Rissani and then continue towards the west on highway N12 until you reach Alnif. From Alnif, follow the highway R113 towards the north until you reach Tinerhir.
Where to stay in Tinerhir and the Todra Gorges
There are many guesthouses along the palm tree oasis near the Todra Gorges. The prices here tend to be higher and the venues more luxurious. The upside is that you are right next to the gorges and surrounded by the trees and the peace of the valley.
If you’re on a budget, I’d suggest you stay in Tinerhir which is only 14 km from the gorges. The prices of the hostels and guesthouses in this town are a lot cheaper. In any case, it’s always possible to take a shared taxi from Tinerhir to the Todra Gorges for only 7 MAD.
Where to stay in Tinerhir
Cynthia and I stayed in this hostel for nearly two weeks and we absolutely loved it. I’d go so far as saying this is the best hostel where I have stayed in Morocco. The hostel is located in Ksar Tinerhir in the middle of the souq and next to the city center. It’s also super close to the CTM bus station and the shared taxis that go to the Todra gorges every morning.
It has an amazing rooftop terrace that offers a beautiful view on the palm grove oasis from which you can admire the sunset and sunrise. The hostel has such a fun friendly vibe and the staff was always available to answer all our questions about the region.
If you want to meet other backpackers to go explore the gorges with, this is definitely where you should stay!
This beautiful guesthouse is also a great choice for a place where to stay while in Tinerhir. It is slightly more expensive than Hike and chill but super comfortable as well. This Adobe house has 8 comfortable rooms decorated with Berber carpets and super cozy beds, a terrace where you can enjoy an evening tea, a kitchen where you can cook your own meals and a restaurant that serves traditional Moroccan food.
It is right in front of the palm grove so it’s the ideal place to feel in the middle of nature. The staff is also very kind and friendly and will make you feel at home.
Where to stay near the Todra Gorges
Staying closer to the Todra Gorges is a great option if you want to be a bit farther from the city and enjoy the relaxing ambiance and quietness of the valley.
This property is located just 1 km from the gorges in the Berber village called Tizgui. This place is ideal for rock climbers as the owner is a rock climber himself and can give great advice on the climbing conditions in the gorges.
The rooms have a view on the oasis and the river that flow through it. This hostel is very close to the trail-head of the Todra loop hike that goes over the mountains through some Berber settlements.
The common areas have very good wifi and a delicious continental breakfast can be enjoyed at their property.
This Guesthouse features a beautiful rooftop terrace with a panoramic view of the Atlas mountains. It’s located right next to the Oasis and 800 meters from the gorges. The spacious rooms of this guesthouse are very colorful and decorated with traditional Berber carpets and carvings on the walls.
The guesthouse is in a very quiet location and a delicious breakfast is served every morning on location.
This restored Kasbah really stands out among the hotels and guesthouses available near the Todra Gorges. It has three simple rooms beautifully painted with shades of bold red and mauve. The rooms are located around an internal courtyard that has a pool. This Kasbah also has a terrace with tables that overlooks part of the palm grove.
Where to eat in Tinerhir and near the Todra Gorges
In Tinerhir there are restaurants serving grilled meat, delicious sandwiches and fruit juices along Ave Hassan II and Ave Hassan V. We highly recommend Cafe Restaurant Central on Avenue Hassan II.
If you are on your way to the gorges and you would like to stop for a delicious meal, we recommend Le Petite Gorge. This restaurant is located 2 km before the gorges and not only is the food there super good (probably the best prune and veal Tajine you’ll have in Morocco), the restaurant also has a balcony with a beautiful view above the oasis and the mountains in the distance.
Where to find alcohol in Tinerhir
If you fancy some beers or a glass of wine at your hostel (first check if your hostel allows alcohol on the premises) after a long day of rock climbing or hiking in the gorges, you can buy some at a supermarket called Chez Michelle Supermarket. It’s the only supermarket that sells alcohol in Tinerhir and it also has a good selection of trekking provisions and snacks for when you go hiking in the mountains around the gorges.
Other awesome places to visit near the Todra Gorges
The Todra gorges are located near other awesome places to visit in Morocco. Here are just a few:
Merzouga is a small Moroccan town right at the edge of the Sahara Desert, not too far from the Algerian border. It’s known as the door to Erg Chebbi, a huge stretch of sand dunes south of town and it’s the ideal place to sleep in the desert in a Berber tent under the stars or try sandboarding among the huge dunes that you can find there.
Read more about Merzouga here.
How to reach Merzouga from Tinerhir
From Tinerhir it is possible to take a grand taxi all the way to Erfoud for 50-70 MAD, then another to Rissani at 15 MAD and finally one to Merzouga for 15 MAD. It is also possible to take the Supratour bus that comes from Marrakesh and passes through Tinerhir every day on its way to Merzouga around 4 O’clock in the afternoon.
If you have your own car, simply follow highway N10 towards the south until you reach highway R113, follow this highway all the way to Alnif and then continue east on the N12 until you reach Rissani, from there follow highway N13 south and you will reach Merzouga.
Merzouga is located 200 km from Tinerhir and by car, it takes about 3 hours to get there.
Ait Ben Haddou
Ait Ben Haddou is an ancient fortified mud Ksar standing between the Sahara and Marrakech. This fortified village is one of Morocco’s World Heritage Sites and was also used as a set in the TV series Game of Thrones.
Ait Ben Haddou is located just 30 km north of Ouarzazate so it’s a great idea to visit both and then continue towards Marrakesh if you are coming from Tinerhir.
How to reach Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou from Tinerhir
There are daily buses leaving from Tinerhir to Ouarzazate ( check with CTM or Supratour). Ait Ben Haddou is located only 30 km north of Ouarzazate so from there it’s easy to find a shared Taxi (they cost around 50 MAD per person
If you have your own car, you will love the landscape as you drive towards Ouarzazate and you’ll have the chance to stop along the way to take some awesome pictures. Simply follow the highway N10 towards the southwest. Ouarzazate is 168 km away from Tinerhir and getting there should take about 2 hours an a half. On your way there you will pass through the city of Boumalne Dades where you can visit the Dades Gorges.
The Dades Gorges are a series of gorges carved out in the mountain by the Dades River. This river comes from the High Atlas mountains and flows southwest before merging with the Draa River at the edge of the Sahara. It’s also a great place for mountain hikes and rock climbing and because of it’s proximity to the Todra Gorges, it’s ideal to visit both locations back to back.
How to reach the Dades Gorges from Tinerhir
There are a Supratour bus, a CTM bus and local buses that leave Tinerhir every day around noon from the bus station and go all the way to Boumalne Dades. The gorges are located 18 km north of this city and once you reach Boulmane Dades, it’s possible to take a shared taxi to get there.
If you have your own car, just follow the highway N10 towards the southwest until you reach Boumalne Dades and then drive north on the R704. The Dades gorges are 69 km from Tinerhir and getting there should take about one hour.
One small note I would like to add at the end of this guide is how useful an Arabic phrasebook has been for me to get by around Morocco. I highly recommend getting your hands on the Lonely Planet Moroccan Arabic Phrasebook. It is packed with all the essential words and phrases you will need on your trip to Morocco and will help you in every situation — from finding a hotel room to ordering tajine or joining the local festivities, this book will cover almost every situation you could imagine.
I hope this guide to Tinerhir and the Todra Gorges will help you during your stay in this rock climber’s paradise. Have you been to the gorges already or do you plan to go soon? Let us know in the comments below.
* The photos in this post were taken by Cynthia (unless otherwise stated) with a Lumix G9, the ideal camera for outdoor adventures. She used the following lenses: Panasonic Lumix G Vario Lens, 14 – 140mm, f3.5-5.6
**This article contains some affiliate links. If you book a hotel/hostel or purchase one of the recommended products through our website, we’ll receive a small commission at no extra costs for you. This way you’re helping us writing more informative and awesome guides like this. Thank you!
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