Lying across the centre of Morocco in a diagonal line for approx 1,000kms, the High Atlas Mountains have long been a mecca for trekkers and with many of the highest peaks within easy reach of Marrakech, this area has become renowned for spectacular trails and high adventure. Between the High Atlas and its southern desert regions of the Sahara lie the challenging peaks, volcanic rocks and remote valleys of the Jbel Sarhro. This is an area of stark black jagged rocky pinnacles, lunar-like plateaux, deep gorges and remote villages with breathtaking views across arid landscapes tumbling towards the Dades Gorge and Valley. The best time to trek this area is between November and February as the summer months are too hot and water is scarce. The High Atlas may be covered in snow in the winter, but the Jbel Sarhro range will remain open to spectacular hiking and clear weather at this time.
These mountain treks require some degree of trekking experience, and you should be confident of your fitness and ability to last the distance i.e your endurance level must be able to cope. These areas are remote, high and command considerable respect.
Marrakech – Tizi-n-Tichka Pass – Tagudilt Village :
After breakfast in your Marrakech hotel/riad your driver/guide will pick you up by private vehicle to begin the tour, travelling over the iconic Tizi-n-Tichka Pass, the highest vehicle pass in Morocco (2260m/8727ft), passing along the way traditional villages as they cling to the hillsides. As the road drops down to the interior, we drive through the regional commercial centre of Ouarzazate, then east to the town of Skoura. Some 50kms from Skoura, we stop for lunch at the small town of Klaa El Mgouna, an area famous for its roses in the spring (the rose festival is in May). When refreshed, continue to the crossroads town of Boumalne du Dades, a traditional market town clinging to the cliffs above the river. We then travel to the village of Tagudilt where we spend the night in the Berber guesthouse, and meet the mule team.
Travel time: 9hrs
Tagudilt – Almou Nourg :
After breakfast our trek begins by walking across the almost flat plateau surrounding Tagudilt then begins to climb to the Azarzim Pass, breaking for lunch before we reach the Pass. After lunch we head over the Pass and hike until we reach the home of Azib Almou N’Ouarg, a local shepherd, where we have dinner and camp.
Hiking Time: 6hrs
Almou Nourg – Igli :
Today we climb to the summit of Jbel Sarhro (2,592m/8504ft) – meaning the Dry Mountain and known locally as Adrar Kouaoutch. On reaching this high point, look back on what you have just accomplished and reward yourself with a well earned morning tea break; take those once-in-a-life-time pictures to remind yourself of the breathtaking scenery that surround you in this isolated, remote region. Descending, we stop for lunch at the village of Tassigdelt, then continue down to the small hamlet if Igli with its fields, palmeries and almond orchards. We camp here near the villagers, the fiercely independent and semi-nomadic people of the Ait Atta Berber tribe.
Hiking Time: 7.5hr
Igli – Bab N’Ali :
After breakfast in the camp at Igli, the trail winds through a small gorge alongside the Afourer River, then down the verdant valley to an area renown for one of the most spectacular rock formations in the Sarhro, the pinnacles of Bab N’Ali. Here we break for lunch. After a rest, we continue on to a waterfall, then loop back to spend the night at Bab N’Ali. You may be lucky enough to enjoy a breathtaking mountain sunset as the day ends.
Hiking time: 6hrs
Bab N’Ali – Assif N’Irrazzoun :
From Bab N’Ali we follow the river down the valley until we reach Irrezzoun N’Imlas where we stop for a picnic lunch. The area around here is less arid or lunar-like as that of the higher plateaux and peaks, with the trail now passing through small farms and palmeries, and orchards of almonds and figs, until we reach our camp for the night.
Hiking time: 5hrs
Assif N’Irrazzoun – Handour Village :
After breakfast at Assif N’Irrazzoun we break camp and continue the trek through small Berber villages until we reach Handour where we have lunch and spend the afternoon relaxing. You spend the night here in the Berber guesthouse. There is time to take a shower if you wish after the exertions of the last few days, wash your clothes or just enjoy this pretty, old village by walking around and meeting the locals.
Hiking Time: 4hrs
Handour – Marrakech :
This morning you will, probably very reluctantly, say farewell to this remote and fascinating region – an area that will remain with you long after you return to you homes and the hectic pace of life that is today’s modern world. Your transport will take you back to Marrakech via the city of Ouarzazate and the Kasbah Taourirt, now a UNESCO designated heritage site, sometimes used for film backdrops. You will then drive again over the spectacular Tizi-n-Tichka Pass of the High Atlas Mountains, and once again drop down to the plains on which sits Marrakech, the city that so readily waits for you to further explore its history, culture, its colour and excitement.
Travel time: 8hrs