If hiking or serious High Atlas Mountains trekking has you worried about too many ups, with the almighty knee-busting downs, do not fret. By definition, Morocco offers up a number of superb hikes, so you’ll have no problem choosing a route. Depending on the number of days, how little oxygen you slurp, personal fitness and the weather, there’s an option for everyone. One Morocco trek getting scores of attention recently but nothing like the high-season throngs of Mt. Toubkal is the MGoun summit along the Ait Bouguemez Valley.
If you’re looking for a photo-tunity of the real Morocco: a place where Berber children run alfresco; a place where workman still cultivate terraced fields; a place where humble subtlety and friendly smiles still hold value, then hiking Morocco’s Ait Bouguemez Valley in the Central High Atlas will quench your hankering. Plus, the sedimentary ridges and naturally carved gorges esoterically red and pink with roaring rivers (OK, they’re crossable) make this a key destinations.
Visitors who come to trek in Morocco start in Marrakech. For this Ait Bouguemez Valley hike, you’ll want to start at Tabant. If you contact a Morocco tour operator, then they can set you up area guides, often previously arranged from Azilal. Maps are hard to find and sometimes even harder to read (on a 1:100,000 scale). Your Morocco travel agency can connect you with private transport from Marrakech to Tabant. Here’s what you can expect.
Though the hike can be done in a different amount of days, here it is broken up into points. You can combine points or treat them as a day each (point 1 = day 1, for example). At any rate, you’ll head out from Tabant with your guide towards (Point 1) Tighremt N’ Ait Ahmed. This will take you up 1,000 meters at 2,900 meters down to 2,230 meters to Assif M’Goun. Most people spend the night here as a water source is nearby. The next point (Point 2), heads south towards Assif n’ Oulilimt, another great place to pitch camp.
The next day (Point 3), head southwest towards the Tessaout Plateau, where Tizi n’Oumsoud (almost 3,000 meters) converges with the side-route to Ighil Tinoughrine (3,200 meters). You can, again, camp here with spring water sources available. After spending the night in the Tessaout Plateau, (Point 4) you’ll head south for a longer day hike toward Amezri, walking along the Tizi N’dern (3,200 meters) valleys and gorges the whole way. Here you can either camp or sleep in a local gite (locally run, minimalist hotel).
(Alternative route: will take you longer) The next day, you’ll walk along the Oued Tassaout river, (Point 5) you’ll head more west passing through Ichbbakene towards Assif n’Tifticht (about 1,800 meters), after which passing through the Tissili Valley towards the town with the same name. Head northeast towards Sebt Ait Bou Wlli, spending the night in Agerssif, catching a ride back to Tadant the next morning.
(Same route: continues after Point 4) From Amezri (Point 5), head north towards Rougoult and spend the night here or camp at Sebt Ait Bou Wlli. (Point 6) Here, you can take transport to Agerssif or Imelghas or right back to Tadant. There’s plenty of local transport or possible large taxis for hire. Either one, however, are not your standard New York cab prices.
Though there are some other diehard routes, some requiring mountaineering or canyoneering experience you’ll find your walk a far cry from long lines and vendors. With plenty of mountain massifs in the back- and fore-ground, you’ll be happy this hike isn’t one constant uphill conflict. You’ll have opulent inspirations with energy to boot for farther, alternative day explorations. Contact a tour operator who will be able to set you up with mules, guides, and cooks. You’re sure to have the Morocco trekking experience of your life.
by Terry Hollowell, Journey Beyond Travel