Discover the High Atlas with an expert Cicerone author
The High Atlas
Treks and climbs on Morocco's biggest and best mountains by Hamish Brown
Inspirational book packed with anecdotes and insights about the best treks and climbs in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco, in North Africa, and drawn from the author's 50-year experience. Illustrated with dazzling photographs of the mountains and also the mountain people, the Berbers. 48 routes including Jbel Toubkal, Tazekka and Igdat. More...
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Jbel Tazekka (Tazzeka) 1980m
A fine, easy walk to the high point of the glorious cedar forests of north-east Morocco.
The Middle Atlas sees far fewer mountain visitors than elsewhere, a reflection I’m sure of the lure of the big, whereas much of the area offers indescribably beautiful hills covered in cedar forest, the Cedrus atlanticum. Jbel Tazekka is isolated enough for cedars to have evolved here that are regarded as a subspecies. The area is a national park.
Meknes and Fes, two of Morocco’s imperial cities (the others are Rabat and Marrakech) lie not far away from the Tazekka rump of the Middle Atlas, and to the north, with a narrow gap between, lie the Rif Mountains. The Arab invasion came through the ‘Taza Gap’ in the seventh century, a unique chink in the mountains that form a battlement around Morocco. It was from Taza we began our end-to-end Atlas trek, which finished on the Atlantic coast at Tamri, and Jbel Tazekka was the first hill climbed on the trip. I’ve been back since. The end of March visit gave the best display of flowers – including gagea, romulea, miniature daffodils, pansies and ranunculus. Ground churned up is a sign of wild boar in the area.
The N6 major road (motorway to be built) – and railway – from Fes to Oujda (on the Algerian border) goes through the Taza Gap, and from it a loop road climbs southwards to the Tazekka heights, a fine 75km day’s motoring circuit if nothing else. There are worked cork oak forests lower down, pleasant falls and a vast cave complex which can be descended (all described in HB), but the pull for me was always Jbel Tazekka. On the last visit we were staying in rooms and tents at a farm near the Friouato cave and simply drove along the road circuit until below Tazekka. This road goes past the holiday camp of Bab bou Idir, descends to a dip (Bab Taka, 1450m, where the road to Rbat-el-Khayr heads south), then climbs again. The piste up Tazekka breaks off just 1km on from this junction.
The piste is a forestry/mast-servicing track that wends up the hill, through mixed woodland with an unusual oak (where they are reintroducing red deer), and then leads across a grassy neck and up a final thrust of conical hill covered in magnificent cedars. Just picking footpaths up through these trees is a joy – a scented coolness. The trees go right to the top of Jbel Tazekka, but there are glimpses dizzily down to the Taza Gap, hazy mountains away to the north, and the snowy Iblane/Naceur heights to the south. The track to the summit is about 8km. The actual piste and what’s shown on 100 disagree; just keep to the piste as far as the cedars.
|A day-walk from the nearest motorable road, which could even be completed in a day from Fes. Camping nearby or using local accommodation as described is a better option – enjoy the magnificiently different area. About 7km and 500m of ascent from the road.|
||100: Taza (but really a road map and the description given would suffice).|
|Texts||Fully described in HB.|
Travel to start
||Using public transport one would have to find a shared taxi up from Taza – with an opportunist return. An easy but scenic drive in hired transport or self-drive care hire from Fes.|
|Local assistance||Not needed. A park visitor centre at Bab bou Idir is worth a visit, situated by the maison forestière.|