Kenitra Tourism: Sights and Attractions
There isn’t a lot to catch your attention in Kenitra itself – the town is friendly but not exciting with a scruffy beach nearby at Mehdia. A couple of worthwhile attractions lie to the south, in the shape of the botanical creations at the Jardins Exotiques and rich bird life in the beautiful freshwater lake of Sidi Bourhaba.
Mehdia beach lies some 9 kilometers west of Kenitra. The windswept greyish stretch of sand is popular is popular with beachcombers and surfers in the summer, but remains deserted for the rest of the year. It’s easily reached by grand taxi from Kenitra, at the grand taxi lot on Avenue Mohammed Diouri.
Apart from the beach itself, the main sight here is the impressive Mehdia’s ruined Kasbah, high on a bluff overlooking the estuary. The peaceful ruins were originally built by the Portuguese, extended by the Spanish, restored by Moulay Ismail and finally demolished during the course of the US landing in World War II. The Kasbah has breathtaking views over the sea from its terraces, and taking a path down the coastal road you will pass through an interesting fish cannery.
The Jardins Exotiques, the Exotic Gardens, are the grand idyll of a French Horticulturist, a one Marcel Francois, who wanted to recreate “lost paradises” that science and technology alone could not do! The gardens were laid out in 1951 and although they have fallen into something of a decline in 1980s, they are being brought back into their former glory.
Once you enter the gardens, colour-coded paths will lead you through a sequence of regional creations. There is a formal Japanese garden, an overgrown Brazilian rainforest, a Polynesian jungle and closer to home, an Andalusian garden. Pool, precarious bamboo bridges and the rich flora from across the world make this garden a true delight, especially in spring and early summer.
Lac Sidi Bourhaba
The beautiful Lac Sidi Bourhaba is a protected nature reserve just inland from Mehdiya beach. This long, narrow freshwater lake, divided by a central causeway, is scenic spot for gentle hiking but more renown for its rich and varied bird life.
The birdlife of Lac Bourhaba is outstanding, especially between October and March. The open stretch of water is home to crested coot in spring and marbled teal in winter. Flitting reed and melodious warbler also make their vocal contribution from the northern reedbeds.
It is, however, for its unique birds of pray that the site is best known. More than 200 species of birds choose to nest or winter around here – some of them rare or endangered species. Look out for the marbled duck, with its distinctive dark patch around the eyes and marsh harriers with their characteristic low quartering fight. In winter, look for the greater flamingo, wading godwits and the beautiful African marsh owl, which often comes out at dusk.