The city of Tafraoute came into existence in the 20th century when the French Protectorate consolidated a number of existing villages and douars at the south end of the Ameln Valley in the Atlas to form an administrative district headquartered in the town. However, the area has been inhabited since the prehistoric era, as is evidenced by rock art in close proximity to the town. It is a mountain oasis in the Souss region of Morocco, located at 1,200 m altitude. It is known for the almond trees the bloom in the spring, the cultivation of olives and grains, its Wednesday souk, and the remarkable landscapes formed in rose colored granite peeks that surround it. Through the millennia the rock in the area has been shaped into enormous boulders and unusually shaped geologic formations.
The Ameln valley is named for the Amazigh tribe that resides there. It's architecture is an interesting blend of vernacular architecture made from the red stone of the region, some protectorate era structures, and newer large villas, most of which were built with funds sent back to families in the region by emigrés who left the region for Moroccan cities to the north, as well as other countries. This high level of emigration from the region is generally provoked by periods of drought and the resulting challenges to agriculture and the economy of the region.
The remarkable landscape attracts hikers and climbers from around the world. A number of hotels cater to these travelers, most notably Hotel Les Amandiers, a 25 room, four-star hotel in the center of town that offers a swimming pool, meeting rooms, and a restaurant.
"The Maalem Ahmed had explained previously that there was another small group of men who would perform a piece of instrumental music for us at some point during the evening. I put this off until the end, because I knew the crowd would begin to leave at that point, and mass departures are not stimulating to performers anywhere. It happened as I had foreseen; eighty percent of the onlookers suddenly decided it was late when the final piece began: the crowd likes words; instrumental music bores it . The performers declined to identify themselves further than as members of the Tafraout Tribe, (perhaps because they did not want to run the risk of offending the Maalem Ahmed, since they were aware of the fact that his name was the only one we had asked for up to that point.) The instrumentation of this piece is as follows: two guinbris, naqous and tismamain.”
Bowles, Paul F. "Tafraout." in Folk, Popular, and Art Music of Morocco. The Paul Bowles Moroccan Music Collection. Washington, DC: American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 1959-1962.
The Paul Bowles Moroccan Music Collection (AFC 1960/001), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Courtesy of the Paul Bowles Estate and Irene Hermann / Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies.