The eastern Ameln Valley showing Adrar Idekel and Ardrar Mqorn
The eastern Ameln Valley showing Adrar Idekel and Ardrar Mqorn

A traverse of the Moroccan north west Anti-Atlas from Ait Baha to the Ait Mansour or Teneglitche Gorge.

By David Wood

The Anti-Atlas mountain range lies just below the city of Agadir and to the south west of the High Atlas. Here you will find both adventure and tranquillity in the many 7000 ft mountains that run across its varied landscapes. David Wood shares photographs from a week-long trek from Ait Baha to the Ait Mansour or Teneglitche Gorge.

With adequate preparation it is possible to walk the length of the North West Anti-Atlas in a stay of less than two weeks and at little expense. In doing so you will walk through ancient villages and enjoy some of the most stunning scenery that the area has to offer, possibly also experiencing some legendary Berber hospitality along the way.

The photographs below illustrate what you might see along the 110 km walk from Ait Baha to the Ait Mansour or Teneglitche Gorge.

The journey is recorded as an exploratory one-week trek in the recently published Cicerone title ‘Walks and Scrambles in the Moroccan Anti Atlas’ and a detailed download is available for purchasers of the book.

Tizi escarpment.Flowers on the way to Tizi N’Takouch.Evening sunlight on the walls of Jebel TikwyeneAn early start leads by way of a steady ascent to the summit of Jebel Tikwyene. To the right summits of the parallel ridge of Targa N’Touchka form the western guardians. From here most of the north western summits can be seen.From Jebel Tikwyene most of the north western summits can be seen.The bare and sparse Taskra plateau lies ahead and will take 3 hours to cross, always in the direction of the distant Jebel El Kest. A short detour to the east at lunchtime provides superb views over the desert.At the end of the plateau the southern promontory of Jebel Taskra is soon reached suddenly revealing amazing views over the Tamza valley. The stone shelter and cooking pots indicate that this has to be one of the best places to camp in the Anti-Atlas.The Tamza Valley, seldom covered in cloud, is a hidden gem. It requires some intricate route finding through a beautiful secluded valley with abundant birdsong by a clear stream in springtime.The valley is known as ‘Samazar’ to climbers and is listed as such on many maps. The first climber to descend it mistook the pronunciation (Samazar for Tamza) indicating how hard it is to get an exact translation from Berber dialectThe area of Afantinzar and the foothills of Jebel El Kest seldom fail to impress. Here is a good place to spend the night by camping or staying in a local Gite. The crisp freshness of the atmosphere in the mornings and the quality of the light is magical.The mass of cairns on top of Amelu Wall is unusual for somewhere that is not a summit but what a superb vantage point to look towards the northern rocky mass of Jebel El Kest and its higher more distant summit, only 90 minutes away.Although the descent of this shelf looks highly improbable it is less exposed that it appears …and it does save a lot of diversionary legwork.Jebel El KestIn complete contrast to what has gone before, the trail drops into the Ameln Valley at the village of Tamalouche and sneaks through the valley sometimes following old irrigation channels, similar to the levadas of Madeira.Under the watchful eye of the Lion some may choose to surrenderNormally the eastern Ameln Valley - the exit point for the next stage of the Trek - is bathed in sunlight and the summits seem to merge into each other but when the cloud occasionally descends their true stature is dramatically revealed.An easy ascent from the Ameln Valley skyline leads to the fine upper pastures of the east flank of Adrar Mqorn. Here the path is littered with lavender dentata in springtime and the walking is joyful.Soon the plateaus are reached which can be windswept and cold even in April.The alternative long and hot road descent to the Tenegliche Gorge passes under an ancient settlement and through a wealthy village. Some eye-catching geological oddities are passed just before reaching the Gite.The final leg to more popular Ait Mansour Gorge demands a little thought and care with route-findingThe path descends to the shady road and the splendour of Ait Mansour - not far from where a welcome rest awaits in the nearby Auberge.

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