Sights

Using the 'orange' town of Berkane as a base is the best way to explore the Beni-Snassen Mountains.

From Berkane, take the national road to Taforalt (Tafoughalt), which passes through beautiful mountain scenery. Taforalt is a somewhat haphazard settlement that arose around a former French military installation, but the northern end, which you come upon first, contains a charming strip of cafes and restaurants; one of these is Club Taforalt. You can stay at the nearby Auberge Taforalt.

Soon after you enter Taforalt from Berkane, turn left at the post office, then immediately turn left again and follow signs to the Infokiosk, which has a small but informative display on the natural history of the park, and an observation platform with heavenly views of a distant mesa. If you’re lucky you will catch sight of a big-horned Barbary sheep from the adjacent reserve. They generally arrive around 4pm, when it is cooler.

About 2km back down the national road is a right turn signposted for two grottes (caves). Grottes des Pigeons (1km) is the site of an active excavation by Oxford University and has revealed human remains from the Pleistocene era, including some early human jewellery (80,000 years old).

Another 5km brings you to Grottes de Chameau, a multistorey cave complex with three entrances that have been closed for years because of flooding damage. Three kilometres further brings you to the pretty Zegzel Gorge and a beautiful serpentine drive. Don’t miss the chance to sample the cumquats, a local industry. Even the Romans remarked upon them.

The source of the Charaâ River provides a worthwhile detour. Follow signs to the tiny hamlet of Zegzel, 2km up a side road. At the end there’s a popular picnic spot near where the river gushes out of the cliff. Not far from here, a spectacular ridge road cuts east to Oujda. You’ll need a 4WD vehicle, a good map and an early start.