Paradise Valley?

Paradise Valley?

I was doing a little online research into what to see around the coastal town of Agadir, and came across Paradise Valley. The official website for the area told of a ‘breathtaking oasis’, a ‘serene haven’ of ‘stunning natural beauty’, featuring ‘lush greenery…cascading waterfalls, and crystal-clear natural pools’. Online photos of Paradise Valley looked amazing, so I immediately added it to my must-do list.

As is was closer to my accommodation, I decided to take the back way to Paradise Valley rather than the main road from Agadir. Although it was slow going through the steep country, it was well worth if for the spectacular views.

After an hour I pulled up at the Paradise Valley carpark, and slung on my daypack for the walk through the gorge. The track descended steeply from the carpark, leaving the arid mountain country and descending into a lush valley of palms. It looked beautiful, save for the masses of ramshackle restaurants and cafes that lined the banks of the Tamraght River.

Moroccan cafe in a river bed

Reaching the valley floor, I found the food and drink joints were jammed in so close to one another that it wasn’t easy to follow the walking path.

Sitting with your feet in the water must be a thing here

At one point I lost my way, and had to be guided back to the track by the restaurateurs.

Yeah nah

Moroccan cafe in a river bed

Now I don’t blame the locals for taking the opportunity to make a living from the tourists visiting Paradise Valley, but I have to say it did detract from the aesthetics of the place.

Having made my way through the maze of cafes, I popped out at a small chain of rounded pools hollowed out by the river’s flow. It was a popular swimming spot, and was also lined with eateries, serving up refreshments and pumping out reggae from portable speakers. Tourists lay around in their swimmers sunning themselves beside the water, or whooped as they plunged into the pools from the rocks above.

At this point, I was having trouble reconciling Paradise Valley with the ‘serene haven’ promoted by the tourist website. Despite this, I was pretty sure I would find some more peaceful and undisturbed areas further up the gorge. I found a walking track and headed off upriver, leaving the crowded swimming holes behind.

The track climbed up to the top of the canyon, and by risking your life at various points you could peer over the sheer edge to the river below. After a bit the track started to descend again, affording views of another large pool, which looked deeper and darker than those at the entrance to the gorge.

Paradise Valley Agadir Morocco
Beautiful hey? Just don’t look in the bottom left hand corner. Oh, sorry…

While pausing to take in the view, I noticed something on the wall of the gorge near the pool. On the ochre-coloured rock was a bunch of graffiti; someone had spraypainted names and what looked like a picture of a windmill. I will never understand why people desecrate natural areas that they have presumably come to enjoy.

Following the track down to the bed of the gorge, I found more graffiti surrounding the pool. This, along with the not inconsiderable amount of rubbish around, was a real bummer.

Paradise Valley Agadir Morocco
What sort of person does something like that?

Leaving the pool and heading further upstream, the canyon walls glowed in shades of orange and red, and reminded me of Northern Australia.

Paradise Valley Agadir Morocco
Top End, anyone?
Graffiti on rocks Morocco

But seemingly every time I took the camera out for a shot, I would have spray painted graffiti in the frame, or rubbish, or the mess of an old campfire. Or all three.

Some graffiti might have been locals…

As far as I know, Paradise Valley is not a National Park or protected area, and I’m not sure if a management body for the place exists.

Management requires coordination and money, of course, but without it, high visitor use inevitably leads to environmental degradation.

…and some not. Oh, and Adam from Italy? You’re an arsehole

Graffiti on rocks Morocco
Graffiti on rocks Morocco

Here’s an interesting one. Someone has painted ‘Vivez la nature‘ (experience nature) on this rock. Well mate I would like to experience nature without some fuckwit like you desecrating it

Keeping water drainage areas clean is not easy, considering rubbish from further up the catchment gets washed downstream. So I understood why plastic waste was caught up in the vegetation of the gorge. But bottles and cans left around old campfires and vandalism are wilful acts, and I had to work hard at not letting the selfishness and disrespect shown by past visitors ruin my experience.

I’m sure your Mum will be along any minute to clean up after you

fireplace Morocco

After an otherwise enjoyable scramble over the boulders of the valley floor, I found a nice spot for lunch. I was even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a couple of squirrels as they made their way with light-footed agility across the rocks. I was far enough away from the tourist pools that I couldn’t hear anything but non-human sounds. Generally speaking, vandals can’t be arsed walking very far, so the further you get from a carpark the less vandalism you encounter. This was the case in Paradise Valley, and at my lunch spot there were only a few small scribbles that were easy to ignore. I had finally found a little of the ‘tranquil atmosphere’ promised in the brochures.

Paradise Valley Agadir Morocco

Just upriver from my lunch spot was a rock face and pool with an amazing flowstone. I decided not to try and get further up the gorge, as no-one wants to be the dickhead who climbs up a rock wall and then can’t get back down again.

Don’t be the dickhead

That afternoon I spent a couple more hours exploring Paradise Valley, before making my way back through the maze of cafes and climbing the steep track to the carpark.

Pretty

Paradise Valley Agadir Morocco

It’s subjective of course, but after my visit, I couldn’t honestly call the place a ‘paradise’. But it’s still a spectacular spot, and if you temper your expectations, and make an effort to seek out some peace and solitude, Paradise Valley is definitely worth a visit

Paradise Valley Agadir Morocco

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