Located between the Rif and Middle Atlas mountain ranges just outside the northern city of Taza, “Grotte Friouato,” or the Friouato Caves as they are more widely known, are a collection of subterranean areas that have been explored by many who have visited Taza.
As the capital city during the Almohad and Merenid dynasties, Taza has been regarded as a strategically important city due to its location between the two mountain ranges. The mountainous terrain can make for an arduous journey to the caves. Several trips via Grand Taxi may be necessary to reach the Friouato Caves, but the subterranean landscape and surrounding views make it well worth the trip.
One of the most extensive cave systems in North Africa, the Friouato Caves reach a depth of over 270 meters. However, the caves’ true limits are still debated. Much mystery surrounds the exploratory history of the caves as well. It is unclear when the inhabitants of Taza first discovered the cave system. In 1930, Norbert Casteret conducted one of the first recorded expeditions of the caves, reaching 146 meters and discovering the underground river that flows through the caverns.
A spelunking expedition by a group from Exeter University discovered other sections of the caves in 1969, locating expansive chambers and a collection of boulders. Calcium carbonate stalactites and stalagmites can be found inside the cave system along with large limestone tables. Today, visitors to Taza can, for less than 100 dirhams, explore the caves themselves, along with a local guide.
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