Lunar beauty and fascinating rocks in the semi-desert of Saghro
Trekking in the remote and mountainous semi-desert of Saghro is an experience out of the ordinary. This trek takes us through a fascinating moon-like landscape with volcanic peaks and cliffs in fantastic shapes and colors. Verdant oases, riverbeds, and ravines afford appealing variation to the eye in this dry and remote landscape, where villages are few and sparsely inhabited.
The tour day by day
Day one: Marrakech – Tiferit
We leave Marrakech and the flat country behind us for a full-day drive towards the mountainous semi-desert of Saghro. The road winds its way up to the Tizi n´Tichka Pass at 2 260 meters where we have wide vistas over the surrounding landscape. Our drive continues through a beautiful valley with villages scattered over the mountainsides. Soon fantastic scenery opens up before our eyes, including Jebel Toubkal which is North Africa´s highest mountain at 4 167 meters, Jebel Siroua at 3 304 meters, and the M´Goun massif with its summit at 4 068 meters.
A little further on our way to Saghro we visit the spectacular fortified village Ksar of Aït Benhaddou, which is a UNESCO world heritage site on the ancient caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech.
We drive through Aït Saoune’s oases and stop a while at the market in Tansikht. Late in the afternoon, we turn onto a gravel road that takes us the last part of the way to the little village of Tiferit. We stay over our first night at the local guest house, and here we meet our mule drivers and our cook.
Day two: Tiferit – Ighazzoun (6 to 6,5 trekking hours)
Our first trekking day is rich and varied. We walk by cultivated oases lined with date palms, and past earthen-colored villages.
We follow the Ousidene riverbed, bordered by volcanic cliffs in varying shades of red and brown, and by sharp-edged, sculpted mountainsides. The rows of powerful mountain peaks are curiously flat, their tops appearing to be cut off by a great knife. The cliff walls along our way are also intriguing; with huge faces and figures, we interpret these remarkable structures.
We camp outside a little village in an open landscape with far-reaching views and surrounded by beautiful mountains.
Day three: Ighazzoun – Boualouz (6 to 7 trekking hours)
Leaving the camp in the morning we soon approach a little ravine. From here the landscape opens up again and we pass by remotely situated farms and a few solitary nomad settlements. Small ravines crisscross the landscape with their short, windblown bushes and solitary trees.
Our trail leads us up and down the mountain sides, and eventually onto a wide-stretched plateau where the famous Bab N’Ali and other remarkable cliff formations rise up in the austere landscape. Carved out by wind and rain, and glowing in warm tones of brown, yellow and red they both astonish and impress us.
Our trek continues on through the deep and narrow d´Afouar Ravine. Oleander bushes grow in the riverbeds and we spend some time looking for the green frogs that live in the pools of water.
In the wonderful little oasis of Boualouz, beautifully situated within a framework of bare cliff walls, we pitch our camp for the night. Before us, a stunning landscape unfolds with a majestic mountain slope rising towards the pass that we will climb in the morning.
Day four: Boualouz – Tassigdelt (5 to 6 trekking hours)
We start the day by zigzagging up towards the Igli Pass at about 1 800 meters and reach a plateau with unbroken views over the whole Saghro massif.
An extraordinary moon landscape lies open before us, with mountains molded by the powers of Nature.
We walk on towards the heart of Saghro with its backdrop of an incredibly beautiful mountainside. The colors of the cliffs shift in all shades of the ochre color palette. At the foot of the mountain lies the small green oasis of Igli, where we make a brief stop.
When we continue on, our trek takes us steeply upwards on the beautiful face of the mountain. Once up in the past, fresh vistas lie open for our eyes, and we enter a new and fascinating lunar terrain. Today’s stretch of the trek ends below the Tassigdelt Pass, where we stop and camp for the night.
Day five: Tassigdelt – Iferd (5 to 6 trekking hours)
Today we continue upwards towards the Tassigdelt Pass, at about 2 200 meters, and on towards the mountain Kouaouch. We reach the top at 2 592 meters without any climbing. The view is splendid from above, and we can see all of Saghro and even the M´Goun massif in the distance.
On our way down from the top, we pass through a fascinating, solitary landscape. Our camp for the night is situated in Iferd, near the place where the nomads bring their animals in the spring.
Day six: Iferd – Boulili – Marrakech (3,5 to 4 trekking hours)
Our last trekking day takes us over the stony Tagdilte Plateau with its windblown Juniper trees and we enjoy new scenic views of High Atlas and the M´Goun massif. The last stretch takes us down to a gravel road where our chauffeur meets us for the trip back to Marrakech.
The return trip goes through the Dades Valley, the Valley of Roses, and the palm groves in Skoura. In Ouarzazate, we can pay a short visit to one of the film studios where many international films are made. We drive on through the spectacular Tizi n´Tichka Pass and arrive in Marrakech by evening.