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Tiznit

98km (61 miles) S of Agadir

Between the Atlantic coast and the southern fingers of the Anti-Atlas mountains, this young city has an easily navigable medina, is historically renowned for its silver jewelry, and is a world away from the bright lights of Agadir.

Tiznit's pink-walled medina was built by Sultan Moulay Hassan (Hassan I) in 1882 to establish a base from which he could stabilize the unruly south. Eight kilometers (5 miles) of thick walls were constructed around 12 existing kasbahs, Jewish silversmiths were relocated into this "new" medina, and the town quickly established itself as one of the major trading centers of Morocco's south. Thirty years later, and in response to the beginning of French occupation, El Hiba the Blue Sultan -- named after his flowing blue robes that are still worn today by men of the south -- declared himself sultan of Morocco in Tiznit, and proceeded to fight the French until his death in 1919 in nearby Taroudannt.

Tiznit today is a peaceful, easygoing town, and the medina, if perhaps a little too open and lacking the bustle of other medinas, is a delight to walk around. Despite the immigration of the town's Jews to Israel, its reputation for producing quality silver jewelry lives on, and a browse through the Souk des Bijoutiers, or jeweler's souk, is highly recommended. Enter the medina through the main gate, Bab Jdid (you'll see the cluster of banks opposite), and the souk is 50m (165 ft.) to the left. In keeping with this young medina, the souk's shops are all modern and well lit, so don't expect a maze of little stores down twisting alleyways. There are more than 100 shops here, and the majority of customers are locals. There's a fair bit of tacky gold on show, but there are also plenty of shops selling authentic antique Berber jewelry, as well as more recent creations of bracelets, belts, brooches, earrings, ceremonial daggers, and necklaces. Bijouterie Aziz has two locations, at shop nos. 5 and 22, and offers fine examples of all. A farther 100m (330 ft.) or so into the heart of the medina is Tiznit's Grande Mosque. Its minaret is more typical of the Saharan style in Islamic West Africa, with wood perches sticking out of the sides to assist the recently departed on their climb to paradise.

Getting There -- Buses for Tiznit (2 hr.; 30dh) operate throughout the day from the recently built gare routière on the edge of Agadir on rue Chair Alhamra Mohammed ben Brahim. The gare routière in Tiznit is on the Tafraoute road, about a 15-minute walk along avenue Hassan II from Bab Jdid (sometimes called Bab Mechouar). Long-distance grands taxis in Agadir are located on the southern edge of the city on the corner of rue de Fes and rue d'Essaouira, and arrive in Tiznit (1 1/2 hr.; 45dh) at a parking lot at the junction of avenues Mohammed V and du 20 Août, 100m (330 ft.) from Bab Jdid. Chartering a grand taxi from Agadir for the day might be an option if there are a few of you, perhaps adding in a visit to La Médina d'Agadir along the way; plan on paying at least 500dh.

If you're driving yourself, the road to Tiznit is well signposted heading south out of Agadir. Once you enter Tiznit, head straight through the roundabout (keeping the medina's walls on your right) until you come to the busy junction of avenues Hassan II and du 20 Août, which continues on through Bab Jdid. Major Travel Services (MTS) in the Complex Manader, boulevard du 20 Août (tel. 0528/827429 or 0669/837345), offers a half-day tour to Tiznit for 350dh adults, 125dh 12 and under. They also offer a full-day tour to Tiznit and Tafraoute for 1,050dh adults and 490dh under 12; the cost includes lunch.

Taghazout (Tarhazoute)

21km (13 miles) N of Agadir

Each day, just after dawn, a fleet of bright blue-and-white boats splutters back into Taghazout's bay, and villagers greet them on the shoreline to inspect the morning's catch. Everyone helps to haul the boats onto the beach, and for the rest of the day, not much else happens except for a bit of net mending and beach football. This is the Taghazout of old that can still be seen today -- but you'd better visit soon. The village and its surrounding beaches, discovered long ago by surfers who reveled in the choice and variety of the surrounding breaks and European camper-vacationers seeking some winter sun, are attracting the attention of tourism developers drawn to such a pristine coastline so close to Agadir. The Agadir-Essaouira road now cuts through the village, and an area of land just to the south has been earmarked for a future large-scale hotel and tourism complex.

Getting There -- Bus no. 14 departs irregularly throughout the day to Taghazout (15dh) from the main local bus station, located next to Agadir's long-distance grand taxi rank, on the southern edge of the city on the corner of rue de Fes and rue d'Essaouira. Grands taxis (25dh) departing for Essaouira will stop at Taghazout, or you could charter one for the day (400dh). The cluster of houses and apartments on the beach side of the road makes for a pleasant stroll, finished by a cheap meal of fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants located on a beachside promenade that runs the length of the small bay.

Where to Stay & Dine -- Auberge Amouage (tel. 0528/200272 or 0670/809785) is toward the southern end of the promenade and fries up an excellent plate of calamari or fish for only 40dh. If you feel like staying, they also have a range of simple, clean rooms for 100dh to 200dh double. Serving similar fare at the northern end is the more rustic Café Resto Come Back (tel. 0528/200260). Fifty meters (165 ft.) back on the busy road are some more restaurants, surf-rental shops, and the bus/grand taxi stop. If you have your own transport, the drive north from here up to Cap Rhir (60km/37 miles north of Agadir) passes a few small villages along an almost constant stretch of beach and surf.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.