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Discover the High Atlas with an expert Cicerone guidebook author - Sample Route

Cover of The High Atlas
17 Apr 2012
24.0 x 17.0 x 1.6cm
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The High Atlas

Treks and climbs on Morocco's biggest and best mountains

by Hamish Brown
Book published by Cicerone Press

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.

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The High Atlas mountains of North Africa offer some of the finest trekking and climbing in the world, with hospitable guides, a good climate for much of the year and an almost untouched mountaineering potential. Once you’ve experienced the contrasting landscapes, romantic cities and welcoming people of Morocco, it’s easy to become hooked.

A narrative of the author’s explorations over half a century, this is a guidebook like no other and could have been written by no one else. It describes some of the biggest and best mountain treks and climbs, routes long and short, difficult and easy, illustrated with pictures that show the rich culture of the Berber people. It is sure to be the inspiration for many fascinating Moroccan expeditions.

All the biggest and best summits including...

  • Jbel Toubkal (4167m) – the highest mountain in North Africa
  • Tazekka – covered right to the top by magnificent cedar forests
  • Igdat – first climbed in an extraordinary feat of mountaineering by Joseph Thomson in 1888
  • Ouaougoulzat – a popular ski-mountaineering destination
  • The improbable ascent of the Cathedral rock tower
  • Tizi Mkorn – between the desert gorges of Dadès and Todra
  • The peaks around the rim of the Tichka Plateau
  • Activities
    mountaineering, scrambling, trekking
  • Seasons
    If you can cope with snow climbs, winter into spring is a good time to visit; spring is the perfection, with blossom and life awakening, and as late as June alpine flowers will still be colouring high ground; by July the temperature is soaring and tends to stay so until the autumn equinox; autumn is harvest time, and storms are less likely, but you'll find a burnt-up landscape; November, December and January are the least good months
  • Centres
    Marrakech, Fes, Imlil, Ouarzazate, the Bou Guemez, Tinerhir and Boumalne des Dad├Ęs
  • Difficulty
    routes suitable for any experienced mountaineer, as long as they respect the altitude and the strong summer sun
  • Must See
    Jbel Toubkal the highest mountain in North Africa; Tazekka; Igdat; Ouaougoulzat; the Cathedral rock tower; Tizi Mkorn and the Tichka Plateau; the colourful Berber culture and people
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Index of route maps
Overview map   


Geography and climate of the High Atlas   
Trekking routine   
Planning your trip   
Getting there and getting around   
Local guides   
Local language and culture   
Health and safety   
Using this guide   

Middle Atlas and Eastern High Atlas   

1    Jbel Tazekka   
2    Jbel bou Naceur, Moussa ou Salah and Jbel bou Iblane   
3    Jbel Ayyachi and Jbel Masker   
4    Jbel Hayane   

Central High Atlas   

5    Jbel Msedrit   
6    Jbel Laqroun   
7    The Cathedral (Mastfrane)   
8    Mouriq   

Mgoun Ranges   

9    Aroudane (Aioui)   
10    Jbel Azurki   
11    Ouaougoulzat   
12    Adar n’ Ouchane, Jbel Anzig, Jbel Amezrika and Imejdag   
13    Jbel Tigounatine   
14    Tizi Mkorn   
15    Ighil Mgoun (Oumsoud)   
16    Jbel-n-Nig Oumassine and Jbel Tazoult-n-Ouguerd (Aslad)   
17    Jbel Aklim   

Western Central Atlas   

18    Jbel Tizoula   
19    Jbel Rhat and Tignousti   
20    Jbel Anghomer   
21    Tissili n’ Warg   
22    Jbel Tastwiyt group   
23    Adrar Tircht (Jbel bou Ourioul)   
24    Adrar Yagour   
25    Adrar Meltzen   

The Toubkal Massif   

26    Kik Plateau edge   
27    Jbel Toubkal   
28    The Ouanoukrims   
29    Aksouâl   
30    Adrar n’ Inghemar   
31    Angour   
32    Taska n’ Zat   
33    Tazaghart   

West of the Tizi n’ Test Road   

34    Jbel Gourza   
35    Jbel Erdouz   
36    Igdat   
37    Adrar-n-Oumzra   
38    Jbel Tabgourt   
39    Jbel Ikkis   

The Tichka Plateau   

40    Amendach   
41    Takoucht   
42    Flillis   
43    Moulay Ali   
44    Imaradene (Tassiwt)   

Further West   

45    Ras Moulay Ali   
46    Mtdadene   
47    Jbel Awlim and Jbel Tinergwet   
48    Azegza   

The Southern and Northern Ranges   

Appendix  A    Glossary   
Appendix  B    Texts, books and maps   
Appendix  C    What to take   
Appendix  D    The highest summits   
Appendix  E    Contacts   

Index of route maps  
Overview map  
Geography and climate of the High Atlas   
Trekking routine   
Planning your trip   
Getting there and getting around   
Local guides   
Local language and culture   
Health and safety   
Using this guide   

Middle Atlas and Eastern High Atlas   
1    Jbel Tazekka   
2    Jbel bou Naceur, Moussa ou Salah and Jbel bou Iblane   
3    Jbel Ayyachi and Jbel Masker   
4    Jbel Hayane   

Central High Atlas
5    Jbel Msedrit   
6    Jbel Laqroun   
7    The Cathedral (Mastfrane)   
8    Mouriq   

Mgoun Ranges   
9      Aroudane (Aioui)   
10    Jbel Azurki   
11    Ouaougoulzat   
12    Adar n’ Ouchane, Jbel Anzig, Jbel Amezrika and Imejdag   
13    Jbel Tigounatine   
14    Tizi Mkorn   
15    Ighil Mgoun (Oumsoud)   
16    Jbel-n-Nig Oumassine and Jbel Tazoult-n-Ouguerd (Aslad)   
17    Jbel Aklim   

Western Central Atlas
18    Jbel Tizoula   
19    Jbel Rhat and Tignousti   
20    Jbel Anghomer   
21    Tissili n’ Warg   
22    Jbel Tastwiyt group   
23    Adrar Tircht (Jbel bou Ourioul)   
24    Adrar Yagour   
25    Adrar Meltzen   

The Toubkal Massif   
26    Kik Plateau edge   
27    Jbel Toubkal   
28    The Ouanoukrims   
29    Aksouâl   
30    Adrar n’ Inghemar   
31    Angour   
32    Taska n’ Zat   
33    Tazaghart   

West of the Tizi n’ Test Road 
34    Jbel Gourza   
35    Jbel Erdouz   
36    Igdat   
37    Adrar-n-Oumzra   
38    Jbel Tabgourt   
39    Jbel Ikkis   

The Tichka Plateau
40    Amendach   
41    Takoucht   
42    Flillis   
43    Moulay Ali   
44    Imaradene (Tassiwt)   

Further West   
45    Ras Moulay Ali   
46    Mtdadene   
47    Jbel Awlim and Jbel Tinergwet   
48    Azegza   

The Southern and Northern Ranges   
Appendix  A    Glossary   
Appendix  B    Texts, books and maps   
Appendix  C    What to take   
Appendix  D    The highest summits   
Appendix  E    Contacts   

Index of route maps
Route 1:                    Jbel Tazekka   
Route 2:                    Jbel bou Naceur, Moussa ou Salah and Jbel bou Iblane   
Route 3:                    Jbel Ayyachi and Jbel Masker   
Route 4:                    Jbel Hayane   
Route 5:                    Jbel Msedrit   
Routes 6-8:               Jbel Laqroun, Cathedral and Mouriq   
Routes 9-13:             From the Bou Guemez and Dadès valleys   
Route 14:                  Tizi Mkorn   
Routes 15-19:           Ighil Mgoun, Oumassine, Jbel Tazoul-n-Ouguerd/Aslad, Jbel Aklim, Jbel Tizoula, Jbel Rhat and Tignousti   
Routes 20-22:           Jbel Anghomer, Tissili n’ Warg and Jbel Tastwiyt group   
Routes 23-25, 32:     Adrar Tircht, Adrar Yagour, Adrar Meltzen, Taska n’ Zat  
Routes 26:                Kik Plateau edge 
Routes 27-31, 33:     Jbel Toubkal, the Ouanoukrims, Aksouâl, Adrar n’ Inghemar, Angour and Tazaghart   
Routes 34–36:          Jbel Gourza, Jbel Erdouz and Igdat  
Routes 37–48:          Around the Tichka Plateau   

Sample Route

View Sample Route Map

Route One
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.


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