Living Large (and Small) at Ouzoud Falls

Ouzoud Falls Quench Thirst for Adventure, Beauty, and Relationship

Yesterday I was ambushed by monkeys, then drenched by a waterfall.

The first incident felt like being on the set of Scarface as Tony Montana’s compound was seized by Sosa’s drug cartel. What followed was like playing opposite Harrison Ford in yet another Indiana Jones movie filmed in Morocco.

Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but life here is sometimes like the movies–  a mix of realism, magic (like the sandstorm that blew up outside my apartment as I wrote this as if on cue), and moments of Monty Python. Yesterday’s road trip was to Ozoud Falls, located150 kilometers from Marrakech, in the province of Azilal.  We began at 8 AM in a van arranged by Ismail Amzilo of Morocco Desert Adventures.   Our journey was cathartic providing fright, wonder, and laughter. It quenched thirst for adventure, beauty and relationship–especially because it was shared with a community of coworkers that functions like family when living abroad. Together we weathered the long ride (3 hours each way fraught with bathroom stops behind bushes and in some scary Turkish toilets).  Still we pressed past queasy stomachs, even rain that prevented the full hike we’d planned, but in the end were rewarded with much fun including a couple of surprises.

So about those monkeys…while seated on a café terrace watching the waterfalls and waiting for tajines,


Monkey #1 climbed out of the rocks onto the bamboo ledge that wound around our table. His eyes were fixed and unreadable as he slinked toward us like a model on a New York runway while we, the paparazzi, breathlessly snapped photos. With one swift leap, he dove into trees behind and below our table and was gone.


We all sat down again, thrilled with the close encounter. Emily was sitting beside me, her back leaned against the bamboo where the monkey had disappeared. Suddenly, with the stealth, stoicism, and surprise of the assassins who scaled the walls surrounding Tony Montana’s mansion, the monkey’s paws, then terrifying grin appeared beside Emily’s ear. At our screams (and my unfortunate “Oh Shit!”) he again vanished. Emily moved to the other side of the table, and I scooted close to her, while Bethany and Jon said they weren’t afraid and would keep watch.

Clockwise from head of table: Jen, Rachel, Eliza, Jon, Ali, Bethany, Audrey, Emily, Ben, Jason, Julie


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While we finished dessert, a large female monkey– Big Mama– appeared on the ledge at the other end of the table. She stared, unblinking, at us, then began her strut down the runway.


Jumping up, we again grabbed cameras. One…two…three…four steps…


a quick leap to the right…and she POUNCED on the middle of the table. Brazenly grabbing the breadbasket, she took off, rebuked by Jon who had seen his 3rd grade teacher bitten on the butt by a monkey at school. That poor woman had rabies shots and stitches.

Thankfully, the ones we saw on the trail the rest of the day were smaller and not aggressive. And though Jon’s story (and another he told in the van about an alligator who bit an elephant’s nose) had us worried about the man we saw with a monkey perched on his shoulder, I hoped his turban would protect his ear should the creature take a nip.


We headed down to the platform where we posed, snapped poses, and were posed with.

Photo by Julie TuSpaz
Photo by Julie TuSpaz







And then our descent began down what seemed to be hundreds of steps–a great workout considering a storm looming prevented our mountain climbing.

New customers had taken our seats on the ledge. Wonder if the monkeys made an encore appearance?

At the bottom were more photo shoots before we boarded a Moroccan-style gondola for our ride into the cascades.




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Photo by Jon Wommack

Back on the van we heard a story from one of our tiny troopers about giants wearing flip flops.  The waterfalls made us all feel small again with their Jurassic Park size and spray.  As our guide rowed us into them, I’m not sure I’ve laughed that hard since carnival rides with my sister at the Wilson County fair or Opryland’s Grizzly River Rampage. And there were two more surprises.  Who says life isn’t ponies and rainbows?  Yesterday we enjoyed both.

Our tiny teller of tall tales
Photo by Julie TuSpaz
Photo by Jon Wommack
Ride home with our tiniest trooper

Morocco Desert Adventures is on Facebook.  For tour information, Ismail can be contacted at

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Great photos!
    And I love the chairs on the boat to take you up under the falls!

    1. Cindy McCain says:

      Thank you, Linda! The boats are really cool.

  2. We have plans to visit Morocco in January, 2016, a land that seems more and more foreign and exotic the more I learn about it! Ozoud Falls sounds like a not to miss place but I’m not sure about that monkey on the table … Especially when you threw in the story of a teacher who need rabies shots! Anita

    1. Cindy McCain says:

      Hi Anita–so glad you are coming. Morocco is so exotic, mysterious, diverse. Love that from Marrakech I can be in the mountains in one direction and on the beach in another in only a couple of hours.

  3. Michele Peterson (A Taste for Travel) says:

    I always think desert when I think of Morocco so am amazed to hear of such a spectacular waterfall. Ouzoud Falls sounds like the perfect day trip — minus the monkeys who I know from experience can be aggressive! In India once swooped out of a tree and grabbed my glasses and took off while I was waiting for a train. It was only though the swift action by a young local boy that I was able to get them back!

    1. Cindy McCain says:

      Hi Michele–yes, before moving here I had no idea Morocco had monkeys other than the ones in the square. I’m glad you recovered your glasses! In Ecuador we had to guard our cameras and jewelry. These are much bigger than those were.

  4. What an eventful day in Morocco! Even though the Ouzoud waterfalls look like a gorgeous destination, I think you’ll remember the monkeys and your fellow travelers’ reactions even more.

    1. Cindy McCain says:

      You are right, Kristin! Travel is very bonding! 🙂

  5. Crazy stuff with the monkey, but it made for a good story. The waterfall is gorgeous.

  6. Shelley says:

    Monkey thieves and a beautiful waterfall in one day! Looks like a beautiful area.

    1. Cindy McCain says:

      Hi Shelley–yes to both!

  7. The falls make a beautiful backdrop the photos of your “family.”

    1. Cindy McCain says:

      Thank you– they do indeed!

  8. That gathering and meal at Ouzoud Falls looks like at least as much fun as the monkeys!

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