Ifrane or 'Little Switzerland': Favorite destination for those wishing to enjoy nature and snow

In the midst of the Moroccan Atlas peaks, where the sounds of birds echo, the rustle of trees is heard, and the sound of a waterfall flows into a lake, there lies an exceptional city, called Ifrane, or "Little Switzerland", as some like to call it.

Some historical references narrate that the word "Ifrane" means caves, and it is originally a Berber word, and there are those who believe that the name is inspired by the caves scattered around its natural surroundings. Ifrane is one of the oldest Moroccan mountain cities, located at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level, on an estimated area of 3,573 square kilometers.

It is characterized by severe cold and snow that covers the slopes of its mountains in autumn and winter, and mild weather in spring and summer. It is also classified, according to international studies, as the cleanest Moroccan and Arab city.

The city that possesses the 'wealth of calm'

The city of Ifrane is characterized by its ability to give tourists precious moments of calm in light of the hustle and bustle of daily life. It is a mountainous city that takes you back to the sounds of mother nature, where all that surrounds you are pristine forests and lakes that have not been polluted or affected by the many human changes. And with all the natural richness of the "Switzerland of Morocco", Ifrane has accommodations worthy of its visitors, and affordable means of transportation.

How do I get to Ifrane?

The city of Ifrane has a regional airport, but it does not provide commercial flights, only for entertainment and private trips. Therefore, to reach Ifrane from outside Morocco, it is necessary to travel toward the city of Fez, whose airport is linked to a large number of European cities such as Frankfurt, Brussels, Rotterdam, London, and Istanbul.

And from the city of Fez towards Ifrane, the tourist will have to travel approximately 65 kilometers, by riding a public bus or taxi, and the two means together take about an hour and a half, for an amount that does not exceed 400 dirhams ($40) in general.

Accommodation in Ifrane

The city of Ifrane provides its visitors with a range of options for accommodation, starting with a list of hotels, in which overnight prices range between 400 and 700 dirhams (40 to 70 dollars), depending on the quality and services provided. There are also private apartments and guesthouses in Ifrane, with prices starting at 300 dirhams ($30).

Let's start the tour

You will certainly feel as soon as you arrive in the city that the atmosphere has become cooler, but it is also more clear and pure, so that you can inhale a lot of it, while you are at a high altitude above sea level, before you start your tour in this city and its surroundings.

And since the city is known for its environmental beauty in particular, there is nothing wrong with an appropriate start that will take you to one of the most beautiful tourist places in Ifrane, which is about 17 kilometers away from it, it is Dait Aoua Lake, which enjoys a picturesque and calm nature that encourages recreation, as it is an ideal destination for families.

The lake is famous for the presence of fish that you can practice as a hobby of catching during the visit, and why not try a boat tour with feeding flocks of ducks, or horseback riding on the banks of the lake, and taking the most wonderful pictures and scenes for memory, passing by 3 other beautiful lakes.

And from water to water always, you can take your destination towards the “Virgin Falls” (Ain Vital), which is only 3 kilometers from the center of Ifrane, and it is one of the places that should not be missed, as your eyes and ears will enjoy the water rushing strongly from the top of the cliff and crashing into the rocks.

You can also practice running and football in the same place, in addition to the seasonal sports that are organized by the Vital Sports Association for Fishing and Preserving the Environment, and are related to catching local fish species.

Towards trees and greenery, you can visit the city's national park, which consists mainly of cedar forests, where monkeys frolic and you can feed them and also enjoy their acrobatic movements.

The park includes species of wild boars, rabbits, foxes, and birds, in addition to other species such as reptiles and amphibians. However, all this environmental treasure does not mean that the city is devoid of urban features, and for this reason, one should not ignore visiting the city center, which is one of the most important tourist places in Ifrane, with huge carved fountains and European-style houses with their sharp pointed roofs, wooden windows, and illuminated trees at night. With a number of restaurants and cafes spread throughout the area, where you can taste traditional Moroccan food and delicious Moroccan tea during your tour.

Michlifen: the pleasure of skiing

Since the city of Ifrane is the city of snow in winter, visiting it without practicing many activities related to skiing remains incomplete. Therefore, the Micheliven station, which was opened in 1950, is considered the most important point for winter sports lovers, as it is located 17 km from the city of Ifrane, and at 2000 meters altitude.

Michlifen is located in the middle of cedar forests and knows snowfall starting from mid-November. This station offers 5 ski slopes for amateurs and professionals, with the possibility of skiing on different slopes. It is also possible to do other activities at this station, such as going on a hiking trip or horseback riding, in addition to riding mountain bikes to explore the mountains.

Tourist train

It is best not to pass your visit without experiencing the unique Ifrane train, which takes you on a tour between the most important streets and alleys of the city to give you the opportunity to explore the city’s landmarks and neighborhoods, as well as the local and typical handicraft shops.

The Lion of Ifrane: Hello and bye!

Some prefer to visit it as soon as they reach the city as it is one of its most famous symbols, and the best place to take memorial photos, while some leave it at the end of the visit, and in any case, the Lion of Ifrane is the one who welcomes you and who bids you farewell when leaving the city, and it is also called the Lion of Atlas, It is a statue located in the center of the city.

There were conflicting opinions and references about who carved the lion. According to the residents of the region, a prisoner from World War I named Jean-Henri Moreau was the one who carved it, a Frenchman born in Bordeaux. The same references add that the process of carving the Lion of Ifrane began in March of the year 1930 and ended at the end of April of the same year, on a rock measuring seven meters in length, one meter and a half in width, and two meters in height.

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