Trekking the Saghro Traverse, Morocco
Between the High Atlas and the Sahara lies the Jbel Saghro, a mountain region of great geological interest. Walking through the area you can observe many geomorphological processes, which you see in Europe only on a smaller scale: e.g. intense wind erosion and the destruction of rocks by the extreme daily temperature fluctuations. The landscape has been shaped by large rivers, which are now reduced to much smaller (insignificant) watercourses.
The area is inhabited by the Aït-Atta Berber tribe, a semi-nomadic people, traditionally making a living off their herds of sheep and goats. Although the Aït Atta have built houses and constructed deep wells to endure the hot, dry summers and to cultivate the land all year round, many of them still move to the upland plains of the High Atlas in spring to return to the Jbel Saghro only in September. This migration is called "transhumance". They use camels to transport their luggage. You will see these animals during your trek.
The Aït Atta Berbers are a cheerful people and very proud of the fact that the Jbel Saghro was the region which still resisted the French protectorate when all other areas of Morocco had already submitted to the French dominance. In 1939 their resistance was broken in the battle of Bou Gafer.
During the trek through the Jbel Saghro you will be accompanied by a mountain guide and your luggage will be carried by mules. In the evenings the melancholic songs of the Aït Atta muleteers fill the air.
Day 1: Marrakech
Upon arrival at Marrakech airport you will be transferred by minibus to your hotel/riad in the centre of town on a B&B basis
Day 2: Tanzikht
Accompanied by your guide, you will be travelling south, over the high atlas mountains by minibus or jeep to the beginning of your trek through the Saghro Mountains. You cross the High Atlas via the highest paved road of Morocco, over the Tizi 'n Tichka (2260 m) where you can witness everyday life in the small Berber villages. Leaving the High Atlas behind, the light changes and you are entering a desert landscape with huge boulders and dry plains where only the rivers are bordered by lush date-palm plantations. From Ouarzazate you cross the western part of the Saghro Mountains up to Agdz, a huge palm region on the shore of the River Draâ. Near the village of Tansikht camp will be set up on a deserted plain. You will meet your muleteers who have come from the north. (BD)
Day 3: Aqqa N'Oughioule (1600m)
In the early morning the luggage will be expertly loaded on mules. Leaving the Draâ Valley behind, you are heading north into the mountains. After a short ascent you will cross a sparsely inhabited upland plain to an oasis where a nourishing lunch will be prepared, consisting of a varied salad, bread, fruit and mint tea. In the afternoon you will reach a canyon with interesting rock formations where you will camp.
5 hours walking. (BLD)
Day 4: Tangarfa Valley (1400 m)
Following the canyon you will gradually ascend to the Tizi N'Igddad (Tizi means "pass") at 1900 m. After crossing a plateau you follow the edge of the Tangarfa Canyon with superb views of mountains shaped by erosion into "sugar loaves". A long descent will take you into the Tangarfa Valley where you will bivouac near the oasis of Isfoula.
6 hours walking. (BLD)
Day 5: Tagmout (1600 m)
In the beautiful Tangarfa Canyon erosion has shaped the ancient rocks into huge sculptures. You will feel like you are walking in prehistoric times. Where the canyon is narrowing, you ascend the Tizi N'Tagout at 1950 m to have a lunch with a view. In the afternoon you will cross a plateau with superb views and set up camp near the riverbed of the Assaka River.
5 hours walking. (BLD)
Day 6: Assaka (1400 m)
A leisurely walk with beautiful views will take you in three hours to Assaka village where lunch will be taken at the place of bivouac. The afternoon is free to visit the village and meet the inhabitants. (BLD)
Day 7: Ighazzoune N'Imlasse (1300 m)
Following the Assaka River you will pass little dwellings where the inhabitants have sculptured the mountainsides with agricultural terraces to grow almond trees and wheat. Then the valley widens into an upland plain. Near the village of Berkik you will have lunch in the shade of almond trees. In the afternoon you cross a little pass with views on vertically eroded rocks. Then you descend to the bivouac place near Ighazzoune N'Imlass, situated in an overwhelming landscape. 6 hours walking. (BLD)
Day 8: Bab N'Ali (1360 m)
The views of the rock formations are amazing and remind you of huge cathedrals. In an impressive landscape you gradually ascend to the isolated rocks of Bab N'Ali which means "Ali Gate". You then descend to your bivouac near a riverbed and a tiny inn where you can buy refreshments. Lunch will be taken at the campsite. The afternoon is free to explore the river gorge, have a swim or laze in the sun.
3.5 hours walking. (BLD)
Day 9: Iggli (1600 m)
The early morning ascent takes you high above the Afourar Gorge. Then you descend into the river valley and follow the course of the river up to a green agricultural valley. From here a winding path takes you to an upland plain which is cut through by canyons. In these surroundings you will feel on top of the world. A long descent takes you to a hamlet named Iggli where the afternoon is free to search for interesting minerals. You are looking at a multicoloured rock-face where a winding path will lead you up to the highest point of this journey the following day.
4 hours walking. (BLD)
Day 10: Almou N'Ouarg
A stony mule path takes you up to the Tizi n'Iggli. The ascent to the pass is 700 m. After that you follow green meadows up and down, in rocky surroundings. Huge junipers are growing here. When the weather conditions are good, you can make a little side-trip to the highest point, the Kaouch summit at 2595 m, a viewpoint which is easy to reach. In the afternoon you descend to your campsite at Almou N'Ouarg, a favourite spot for nomads to put their tents.
6 hours walking. (BLD)
Day 11: Tagdilte (1650 m)
First you go up to the Tizi N'Ouarg (2300 m) to enjoy the view over the Dadès Valley and the snow-covered 4000 meter high peaks of the Atlas Mountains. Then a long descent will take you to the village of Tagdilt where you will spend the night in a Berber house. You will enjoy the comfort of a "hot" shower and soft cushions. Here you will have to say good-bye to your muleteers. (BLD)
Day 12: Marrakech
A beautiful drive through the oases of the Dadès Valley takes you first to the kasbah-complex of Ait Benhaddou, which you can visit. Then you continue over the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech, the magic ochre coloured city. Your hotel is located near the Djemaa-el-Fna Square, the vibrant heart of the city. The activities on the square are continually changing. In the afternoon, the morning market makes way for snake charmers, musicians, acrobats and storytellers. Open food-stalls are set up with delicious kebabs and salads. Your senses will have more than their fair share of things to see, hear and smell in the medieval medina. Fully loaded donkeys walk back and forth through the narrow streets, which smell of herbs, leather and meat stalls. You will be overwhelmed by the exuberant mix of colourful carpets, fruits, herbs and dyed skeins of wool. In the courtyards the tanners are busy working. Small gateways provide an entrance to the beautifully constructed and decorated sultan's tombs, old palaces and Koran schools. (B)
Day 13: Marrakech
A free day to explore this 900 year old city. (B)
Day 14: Departure
You will be transferred to the airport of Marrakech for your flight home. (B)
from October until June
English-speaking mountain guide, muleteers, a cook (parties larger than 5 people)
Meals as indicated in itinerary: B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner
Transportation: minibus or jeep for all transfers, mules for luggage during trek
3 Nights accommodation in tourist-class hotel on twin share basis, 1 night in a Berber house, 9 nights in tents equipped with foam mattresses
Camping and cooking equipment
Tips, drinks and other personal expenditure
Sleeping bags for mountain trek
Personal travel insurance
Please contact us for more details for any of the above