Just a few miles south of Tafraoute, nestled amongst the desolate landscape of the Ameln Valley you’ll find one of the most intriguing sights in Morocco, the famous painted rocks of Tafraoute.
Popping against the muted hues of the natural landscapes, these ginormous granite boulders covered in bright paint feel totally surreal. Psychedelic even. And seeing them with your own eyes is an absolute must for your Morocco itinerary.
In this blog post you’ll learn everything you need to know about visiting this man-made phenomenon at Agard-Oudada. Including how to get there, where to stay nearby, other things to do in Tafraoute and of course why these things are so damn controversial.
Painted Rocks Tafraoute Morocco
The painted rocks in Tafraoute are actually the work of a Belgian artist Jean Verame. In 1984 with the help of the Tafraoute fire department, he created the vast area of art as a tribute to his late wife. The project took three months and used an incredible 18 tonnes of paint.
Most commonly referred to as the Morocco blue rocks, they are in fact multicoloured. There’s also pink, red, black and yellow and orange ones dotted amongst the blue too. In French they are known as Les Rochers Peints de Tafraout.
Naturally with the rocks being so exposed, the paint suffered significant weathering over time. Particularly the pink. But they have since been repainted to restore their former vibrance.
Blue Rocks Morocco Controversy
There’s a long stretching history surrounding the ancient oasis town of Tafraoute, so having such a modern piece of massive artwork dominate its landscape can feel somewhat at odds. Some call it vandalism, some call it art. Maybe it’s both?
But either way it’s impossible to be indifferent about them. You either love them or hate them. Blue monstrosities scaring the natural landscape? Or bold masterpieces that add a splash of excitement? Ultimately you will have to decide for yourself.
How To Get To Tafraoute Blue Rocks
By Car | To drive to ‘Les Rochers Peintes’ from Tafraoute town centre head south along the R107 and follow signposts on the right. There’s no designated parking but plenty of space.
On the way back you can pop out onto the R104 instead to see different views of the landscape.
The coordinates for where we parked are: 29.6703, -8.9751 or N 29° 40’ 13” W 8° 58’ 30”.
Please note, you can only park at Tafraoute blue rocks during the day, overnight stays are no longer permitted. Police patrol so you will be moved on or fined.
By Foot or Bike | From the town centre there’s a couple of different hiking routes that will lead you to Tafraoute painted rocks. Depending on which route you take, the distance is around 6-7 kilometres and will take just over an hour to walk or 20-30 minutes to cycle.
Top tip, make sure you have the map you are using downloaded to use offline. Also take plenty of water and snacks.
Hotels Near Painted Rocks Morocco
Elmalara | This countryside guest house with mountain views is just a 15 minutes drive from the blue stones and has fantastic reviews. Or if you prefer you can hire bikes or hike either. There’s a beaut outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant with terrace and free private parking.
Hôtel Titrit | Situated in the town centre, this family run Tafraoute hotel has a choice of either twin or triple rooms. Previous guests say that they felt so welcomed it was like visiting family. There’s secure onsite parking and from here it’s a 30 minute drive to the painted rocks.
Iskki-Asnfou | For something a little different, this charmingly rustic Berber homestay is a 45 minute drive from the blue rocks Morocco. Mohammed and his family receive consistently rave reviews about their hospitality. The surrounding area is great for hiking too.
If you’re visiting Tafraoute and the blue rocks of Morocco in a campervan or motorhome there’s a few different campsites with full facilities in Tafraoute.
But there’s also a huge Aire that is much cheaper and has an empty/fill up facility nearby. The coordinates are: 29.7208, -8.9843 or N 29° 43’ 15” W 8° 59’ 3”.
You used to be able to wild camp overnight at Tafraoute painted rocks, but this hasn’t been allowed for a number of years now. Police patrol the area so expect to be fined or moved on.
Things To Do In Tafraoute Morocco
Buy Some Babouche Slippers
Tafraoute is one of the best places to pick yourself up a pair of traditional Moroccan shoes. The stall holders in the market actually make them on site and they are so much cheaper than the touristy hotspots of Marrakesh and Fez.
There’s also lots of lovely woodwork, jewellery and other leather items on offer. Plus on Wednesday there’s a bigger market so if you’re here then you can really get your shop on.
Relax At A Local Hamman
If you’ve never tried one before, and even if you have, one of the awesome things to do in Tafraoute is to visit a local Hamman. At Complexe Jawharat you can get a 150 dhs package which includes all the necessary bathing items plus a massage.
Visit A Nearby Berber Village
Less than 10km from the centre of Tafraoute is the Berber (Amazigh) village of Oumesnat. Here you’ll find ‘La Maison Traditionelle’, a beautiful conservation of a traditional Amazigh house which is now a hotel and museum displaying typical household items.
The family that owns it are super hospitable and love sharing their culture and way of life. There’s also the Berber villages of Emintizket, Amtoudi and Ikouka nearby too.
Get Your Hiking Boots On
Set against a backdrop of spectacular shaped rock formations, the landscape around Tafraoute has some breathtaking hikes. Jebel Kest, the highest peak in the region, is not for the inexperienced, but there’s plenty of less strenuous routes.
There’s a couple of good ones here. Owing to the rocky landscape the area is also popular with climbers. Here’s some more info on that. And then of course you have cycling. Basically, if you love being active outdoors, Tafraoute is a brilliant playground.
Hit Up Local Festivals
If you happen to time your visit with either of the local Tafraoute festivals, you’re in for a treat.
Held during the second week of February, there’s the Almond Blossom Festival. Expect lots of traditional Berber music, dance and food. Then during August there is the Tafraoute Summer Music Festival. This is three day event features musicians from all over Morocco.
Detour To Ait Mansour Gorge
Less than an hour’s drive from Tafraoute (30km), you’ll find the jaw dropping Ait Mansour Gorge. Situated in the heart of the Anti-Atlas Mountains, this palm filled natural beauty is one of the gorgeous oases in Morocco. It’s a great place for swimming and you can camp too.
Rochers Peints Tafraout FAQ’s
Are There Any Toilets?
No. There are no facilities whatsoever at Tafraoute blue rocks. There were plans to open a small cafe but this hasn’t happened yet.
How Much Does Parking Cost?
Parking at Les Rochers Peints de Tafraout is free. There are signs that direct you around to the main flat area but you can park pretty much anywhere that isn’t blocking access.
When Is The Best Time To Visit?
To avoid the crowds and high temperatures the best time to visit the Morocco blue rocks is over the winter months in the morning. We were there early one weekday during January and there was no one else there.
If you are visiting over the summer months be sure to cover up and take plenty of water. There’s no shade out there and the sun is strong.
How Much Does It Cost To Visit?
There is no entrance fee to visit Les Rochers Peints de Tafraout, it is completely free.
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Yorkshire born & bred, Sarah is a professional blogger who loves to travel. Pushing her boundaries with new adventures is her jam, so you likely won’t find her in one place for too long. Also a serious Marmite addict.