• Emmy Ciabattoni

A Pedacito Of Hiking To The Akchour Waterfalls In Morocco

We met Indiana Jones—well, Indiana Mike—at our free hotel breakfast in Chefchaouen. He’d spent the last three days hiking in the desert and climbing the second highest peak in Africa. After listening to all of his crazy stories, we decided that he very well deserved his new nickname.

From left to right—Candace, Indiana Mike, and me in Morocco
From left to right—Candace, Indiana Mike, and me in Morocco

It was nice to hear our home language again, not to mention the English accent; until now, we’d barely been scraping by with Spanish and body language. Conversation flowed over our free hotel breakfast of mint-leaf tea, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and croissants topped with queso fresco, egg, and curry spices.

Free breakfast at our hotel in Chefchaouen, Morocco
Free breakfast at our hotel in Chefchaouen, Morocco

We told him about our plans to hike the cascadas grandes (Akchour Waterfalls), and he happened to be going there that day, too. He offered us a ride, which would save over $70 and the burden of hailing a taxi, so we agreed.


In some circumstances, it wouldn’t be okay to get in a car with an absolute stranger while you have no cell service or wifi, or any means of protecting yourself. But any traveler will tell you– listen to your gut. Do you get weird vibes? Weird feelings? And are you being smart?


This man felt quiet, sincere, sweet, and a little lonely. And we were smart; we alerted the hotel receptionist of our whereabouts and ensured that information on “Mike” was available if necessary. With the blessing of our ‘house dad’, we were on our way.

The view from our hotel in Chefchaouen, Morocco
The view from our hotel in Chefchaouen, Morocco

We piled into Mike’s car ready for an adventure. Candace and I navigated the GPS while he drove. When we arrived at what we thought was the trailhead, we thought that Mike would sprint far ahead—all Indiana Jones-like—and leave us in the dust. We thought he’d run off and do his own wild thing, and leave us amateurs behind.


Instead, he followed closely behind us. All relaxed and having a good time. He even asked to stop, so we could all smoke a joint. Indiana Mike and Candace lounged in the tall grass next to a river, backpacks thrown to the side. We talked about families, and school, until everyone (including me but not smoke-wise) was pleasantly high and happy.

The trail to Akchour Falls in Morocco
The trail to Akchour Falls in Morocco

Finally, we started walking, and walking, and walking, and all of a sudden—we weren’t sure whether the trail was an established route or a goat path. We decided that a path is a path for a reason—it must lead us to somewhere worthwhile. We zigzagged back and forth over the river until it completely disappeared. We stood in the middle of a tall grass field, clueless.

 Google Maps was no help while we were lost, looking for the Akchour Falls
Google Maps was no help while we were lost, looking for the Akchour Falls

We had heard that it was “far away”, but we weren’t sure exactly how far away. We knew the small falls came with a small hike, and the big falls came with a big hike. Of course, Indiana Mike was all in. We followed their directions and kept walking.

Getting lost in Akchour
Getting lost in Akchour

Two hours later, we arrived at a wide dirt road. Completely lost, we scanned the road for Mike’s car—but after an additional thirty minutes of walking in the barren heat, we had no luck.


Thankfully a taxi driver drove by and Mike hailed him down. We hopped in and drove for about twenty seconds, where we were surprised to find Mike’s car on the side of the road. None of it made any sense.


Mike drove us to a spot where we could buy some ice cream and figure out where it all went wrong. Apparently, we started at the wrong starting point. If we wanted to start from the correct starting point, it’d take another three hours to reach the falls.


Although it was getting late, we decided to go for it. Hell, this was our only chance. We made our way up the correct trail while dodging the tourists heading down the mountain, already on their way back.

The hike to Akchour Falls in Morocco
The hike to Akchour Falls in Morocco

We watched people of all types—young, old, borderline elderly—slipping and sliding down the steep trail. Some even tumbled a bit. Old women scooted on their tooshes down the steep parts; young girls lost their balance and rolled in the dirt; it was all quite a scene. Everyone was okay, so it was pretty hilarious.


But despite all the fun, we were anxious; we weren’t sure whether we’d make it to the top before dark. If we didn’t, Mike had camping gear in his backpack and two winter jackets. Thoughts that we just met this man started creeping up. Now we were going to sleep in a tent with him? Candance and I exchanged glances that said noooo way; we’d take our chances stumbling down the trail in the dark if we had to.