Ifrane Morocco

Ifrane, Morocco Guide


Ifrane (Amazigh: ⵉⴼⵔⴰⵏ, Ifran; Arabic: إفران) is a city and urban commune of Morocco located in the Middle Atlas Mountains, at an altitude of 1,713 meters. It is the capital of the province of Ifrane, in the administrative region of Fez-Meknes, and has a population of 30,000 inhabitants.



Ifrane Morocco


Ifrane is so-called “Little Switzerland” because of its climate and landscape, as well as its cleanliness – it is the second cleanest city in the world in 2020.




1 Toponymy and etymology
2 History
2.1 Prehistory
2.2 Contemporary period
3 Geography
3.1 Location
3.1.1 Climate
3.2 Biodiversity
3.3 Ifrane National Park
4 Tourist sites


Toponymy and etymology


In Amazigh, ⵉⴼⵔⴰⵏ ifran means hiding places or caves (plural of ⵉⴼⵔⵉ ifri). The region is indeed known for its natural caves dug in the Jurassic carbonate layer in the form of karts, and which extend to the regions of El Hajeb and Sefrou. They are the ones that gave their name to the city. Due to ignorance, the name Oufrane has been associated with Ifrane, whereas the latter refers to a city located in the Moroccan Anti-Atlas. Historically, the old name of Ifrane is Tourtite Turtit, which in Amazigh means garden [1] [archive]. The development of Ifrane and its region owes much to natural potential, especially the cedar.


History of Ifrane, Morocco




The human presence in the region goes back to the Neolithic period as testified by caves such as those of Tizguite as well as archaeological remains dating back to the Prehistoric period, 50,000 years ago, the discovery of Aterian camps (characteristic culture of the Paleolithic of the Maghreb) by the group of researchers of the Institute of Sciences of Archaeology and Heritage (INSAP) in Michlifen near Azrou in Ain Leuh (cave ifri Ouberid), Zerouka, Ghabt, Al Bahr and Itto and El Hajeb and the remains found (bones, objects. ..).


Contemporary period


Ifrane will be inhabited later by a population from the two large Tamazight-speaking Amazigh tribes of Morocco, the Aït M’guild and the Aït M’tir and part of the Aït Seghrouchen, nomadic tribes that move between the green pastures of Timahdite and Azrou to the borders of the Zayanes country.


Given its geographical situation in altitude oriented due north which makes its landscapes comparable to those of Europe, the creation of Ifrane is the work of the Secretary General of the Protectorate in Morocco, Eirik Labonne, in 1928. Three dates are to be remembered:

Creation of a summer camp for French settlers: Vizier order of September 16, 1929.
Creation of the municipality: January 14, 1947.
Creation of the province.
The choice of the colonial power falls within three frameworks:

Exploitation of natural resources;

Creation of a “European city” to compensate for the disorientation of the French and European community established in Morocco, especially in summer (coolness): Maurice de Gandillac is a witness to this1 ;
To have a strategic base: The garrison of Timahdite constituted a strategic military asset that served as a link between Taza and Tadla in order to facilitate military interventions and to identify Amazigh tribes hostile to the colonial presence, notably the tribe of Zayanes under the leadership of Mouha or Hammou Zayani, Mouha or Said of Elkssiba and other insurgent centers in the Middle and High Atlas renowned for their hostility towards the Iroumines (Christians) and their quality of warriors nurtured by their attachment to the land, especially after the defeat of France on November 13, 1914 in Khénifra in the battle of Elhri.
Al Akhawayn University of Ifrane was founded by royal decree in 1993 and officially inaugurated by King Hassan II of Morocco on January 16, 1995. It is currently the only Moroccan university following an American education system and having more than 40% international staff.






Ifrane, a city in the central Middle Atlas, is characterized by its European urbanism. It is the capital of the province of Ifrane, whose area is 3 573 km ² and which is administratively composed of two municipalities (Ifrane and Azrou), five caïdats (Tizguit, Dait Aoua, Ain Leuh, Timahdit and Irklaouen) and eight rural communes (Tizguite, Dait Aoua, Ain Leuh, Sidi El Mekhfi or Sidi Addi, Timahdite, Ben Smim, Oued Ifrane and Tigrigra. According to the new administrative division, the province is part of the region of Fez-Meknes.


Climate in Ifrane


Ifrane has a very humid and temperate climate with an annual rainfall of 1,118.4 mm and an average annual temperature of 11.4 °C.


The northern slopes of the Middle Atlas Mountains are the most watered region in Morocco after the Rif mountain range. Rainfall occurs mainly in winter. The Middle Atlas Mountains are then on the path of disturbances from the Atlantic.


At an altitude of 1665 meters, summer in Ifrane is short but pleasantly warm2, dry and sunny. The average maximum temperature rises from 22°C in June to over 28°C in July and August before quickly falling back below 25°C in September.


In winter it snows a lot in the city. Ifrane officially holds the record for coldest day on the African continent with a temperature of -23.9°C on February 11, 1935.3




The region of Ifrane is a rich geographical area by its faunal and floristic biodiversity, but its S.I.B (Sites of biological and ecological interest) and its national park are under strong pressure due to the degradation of the forest, overgrazing and unwary visitors qualified as potential polluters.


Ifrane National Park


Ifrane National Park is home to the largest cedar forest in the world. It includes a group of biodiversity sites (Tizguite Park, Val d’Ifrane, Vittel springs, Dait Aoua, Dait Hachlaf, Dait Ifrah and Afourgah).



Tourist sites. What to see in Ifrane Morocco


Its construction by the French, which began in 1929 as a seaside resort, was inspired by Alpine architecture.


It has a large Royal Palace, Al Akhawayn University, a military academy and many luxury villas that are dotted around the city with well-kept trees and walkways. It is an entertainment city for summer and winter sports.


In the center stands a lake surrounded by forests, next to which it is possible to contemplate the Lion of Ifrane, a stone sculpture that tourists like to photograph. As a reminder of the protectorate, there are still some original houses, the post office and the church.
The Ville Jardin neighborhood, from the colonial era (called Riad), has summer houses and tourist complexes.


The popular districts are to the north.


The Tourtite International Festival stands out for its cultural activities, with a variety of music, art, nature and sports. The Cedar Songs Festival celebrated in summer. The Miss Snow Festival which coincides with winter, with many activities.


Ifrane is a good place to spend the night or to serve as a stage of the desert circuit thanks to its good geographical situation, even if the hotel offer is limited. However, let’s highlight the luxurious and expensive Michlifen Ifrane Suites & Spa, the modest but central Grand Hotel Ifrane, Hotel Chamonix and the decent hotels Farah Inn and the Residences de Ifrane.


In summer, many national tourists come from the neighboring cities of Meknes and Fez. It is also the seat of the prestigious International Summer University. Throughout the year, it is possible to practice horseback riding at the Royal Club.



Ifrane National Park


An impressive forest of cedars, a natural monument and the largest in Morocco. It covers all the surroundings of Ifrane and Azrou, at an altitude of 1 500 – 2 000 meters. Its forest of more than 50,000 hectares, the largest cedar reserve in Morocco and in the world, is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Incredible cedars over 100 years old, grandiose walnut trees and imposing holm oaks darken the road and give it a mysterious air. Visit the lakes of Dayet Asaua, Dayet Ifrah, the Valley of the Rocks, the Virgin Falls and the summit of Jbel Hebri, next to the winter resort of Michlifen.


Wildlife abounds: monkeys, wild boars, hares and partridges. Trout fishing.


Lakes Route


There is a circuit of lakes, taking the road to Fez, taking a detour at 16 km to Dayet Aoua, an ideal place to eat and watch birds. Continuing on the local road between pines and oaks to Dayet Ifrah, one can admire a beautiful landscape not often visited. On the way back to Ifrane, passing by the road 707, you can admire the Valley of the Rocks composed of large rock formations.




Ski resort at 2,036 meters above sea level, 17 km away. It can be reached by road 707, after passing the port of Tizzi n Treten at 1,934 meters. This area is a plain dotted with forests and stones forming strange shapes. The resort offers various services and there is a villa of the Ifrane Ski Club.
Nearby, there is the Jebel Hebri resort, 2,014 meters above sea level and 22 km. It does not offer any particular service. It is accessible from Azrou by the road to Midelt.


Before arriving at Michlifen, taking a local road that goes east and crosses a high plateau where sheep graze, we reach Boulemane, 55 km away.


Zaouia of Ifrane


Located 5 km along a local road that runs along the Tizguit River.
The first settlement in the region with remains of primitive Hebrew tribes and a shrine to its founder, the revered Sidi Abdesselam. It is interesting to see the troglodyte houses.


Beni Smim


At 8 km in the direction of Azrou, we find this rural commune, with hotel Tamanoucht. The women of this region make natural chamomile essence.
Its water is very appreciated and bottled under the name of Water of Benismim.
During the protectorate, the tuberculosis sanatorium of Bensmim was built at this place, surrounded by forests. It is now abandoned.




17 km away, N-8 southbound, a mountain town of about 50,000 inhabitants. It is located at an important crossroads linking the region with the desert, via the road to Midelt, Er Rachidia, Erfoud, Merzouga and Marrakech at 400 km by the road to Khenifra, Beni Mellal and near the imperial cities of Fez, Meknes at 80 km.


City with a moderate hotel offer, with however the modest Hotel Panorama and in the forest, the modern hotel Le Palais des Cerisiers.


Book a hotel near Azrou


Azrou can be used as a base for visiting the Middle Atlas Mountains and the desert, or taking a trip to Meknes and Fez, which are not far away.


Immouzer Kandar


26 km away in the direction of Fez is this small summer center and small village in the Atlas Mountains located at an altitude of 1400 meters. It is a place of great natural beauty and cool climate, nationally renowned, with a lively main street and a central lake.



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Ifrane Morocco, the Guide
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