About Ouirgane Day Hikes (1-3)
Relatively easy guided walks with lunch. Tassa Ourigane, Oued N'Fis, salt mines and the Tinmal Mosque, charming hidden valleys and Berber people.
Activity code: ITCTtoRAK08 / ITCTtoRAK10 / ITCTtoRAK13
Difficulty: GRADE ONE - walking mostly on paths at lower levels, sometimes rocky, seldom flat, for about 6 hours each day. Good shoes would do but take boots if you are used to them. Suitable for anyone who leads a reasonably active life. NB. Hiking always involves some effort.
Duration: 1 Day
These fully guided day hikes offer a wide variety of scenery in and around the foothills of the High Atlas, near Ouirgane & Marigha. They are designed to start by walking directly from your accommodation in Ouirgane, e.g. Chez Momo or Marigha, e.g. Kasbah Tatfi. All hikes include an experienced English-speaking guide, full back up if required and provide a good day's walking without a VERY early start. Also included is a lovely fresh picnic lunch or a warming tagine option in winter months.
All hikes are individual, tailor-made reservations so can be arranged for any number of people on any start date.
A beautiful day's walking in the Tassa Ouirgane National Park. Essentially, this walk takes you up and down a maximum of 600 metres and is not at all strenuous. It includes charming hidden valleys and opportunity to meet the mountain Berber families in their own environment.
This is a quite leisurely walk (although not a short one) which allows you to enjoy the countryside around Tinmal and Ijoukak which is, to a large extent, "off the beaten track" - definitely one for the history enthusiast, too.
A lovely, gentle walk in the foothills of the High Atlas. Essentially, this walk takes you into charming hidden valleys to witness the traditional life of the mountain Berber families in their own environment.
Please do not hesitate to contact us to book one of these hikes or to enquire further about the itineraries, locations and terrain. A more detailed description of each one is included below in the "Itinerary" section.
* If vegetarian or vegan, please pre-advise.
NB: all our prices are for land arrangements only (starting and finishing in Ouirgane), please contact us to arrange accommodation in Ouirgane / Marigha or Marrakech (hotels and riads) as well as flights from your preferred airport.
A pleasant start at 9am with your Moroccan Mountain Guide walking towards the east through fields of corn and flowers to follow alongside the river’s course up and down small hills dotted with red juniper, passing by isolated Berber hamlets until you reach the salt mines at Marigha. Here the Berber people have been mining salt by their traditional method, unchanged for centuries. You may see them riding from village to village, selling their salt from the back of their donkeys. You should also, depending on the time of day, get to see the Berber women sitting on their haunches for a chat after gathering wood.
From here your guide will lead you into the immense Tassa Ouirgane Valley via a piste which leads through more fields and orchards of apple, peach, cherry and apricot and near the vast forest of Takherkhourte until you reach the picnic spot at the village of Tassa. Once refreshed continue on to appreciate a tremendous panoramic vista of the entire valley and of the Forestry Station - which protects the area’s horned mountain sheep - and now on through the woods and sight of the Toubkal Massif National Park with its distant range of High Atlas peaks, down the slopes to ford the river and take the small path on the other side of the valley through stands of juniper and tall fir trees to the foothills of the Adrar Takherkhourte (2309m). From here your guide will take you towards the northwest through orchards of peach, plum and pomegranate and vineyards to go through the villages of Tourourd and El Khemis until finishing up at your starting point in Ouirgane at around half past five in the evening.
Meet up with your Mountain Guide in Ouirgane [or Marigha] at 9am to drive with him to the Berber village of Ijoukak. Here, at the juncture of the Oueds n'Fis and Agoundis, alight from the vehicle to set out for a 5 hour hike. The route begins down what can best be compared to a country lane, in the foothills of the Jbel Erdouz (3579m), passing the Berber villages of Souq Ijoukak, Tagountafte, Souk Larbaa and Ikhfe N'Boul until you arrive, after the first half an hour, at the riverside tribal kasbah of the once-powerful feudal chieftain Sultan Caid Goundafa. The inner part of this now decaying palace-fortress, with storks nesting on the ramparts, still retains traces of its original Hispano-Arabesque decoration and seems to have been built either in the late 17th century (or late in the 19th century, depending on whom is telling the tale).
This area is the traditional land of the Berber Goundafa tribe, one of several powerful tribes who strove to control the High Atlas Mountains in the 19th century. This feudal warrior of the old tradition constantly waged war with the neighbouring Glaoui clan, who burned down his kasbah of Talaat n'Yacoub. As a result, this castle of Agadir n'Gouf was built. It was here that the Scottish author R.B Cunningham Graham had been detained at the Sultan's convenience. In the 1920s, this became an outpost of the French Foreign Legion. Continuing on your guide will bring you to the partially ruined Goundafa stronghold of Talaat n'Yacoub. From here continue this easy walk down alongside the river, following the contours of the high valley of the Assif Nfis, amidst stands of olive, walnut and almond trees until you come across the hauntingly beautiful hidden Valley of Ijoukak, with its stream of clear, cool, slow-moving water full of trout, lined with hillside hamlets, orchards and ancient terraced irrigated fields.
After a further half an hour, you will reach the small, remote stronghold settlement of Tin-Mal high up on the opposite bank of the river, set amidst brown slopes, green shrubbery and seasonally snow-capped mountains. Here your guide will take you to visit the fortress (and one-time state treasury) with its high walls and strong towers, the sole survivor of the once holy 12th century city built by the founder of the Almohad (Unitarian) dynasty, Mehdi Ibn Toumarte. This is the only mosque in Morocco - other than the mosque of Hassan II in Casablanca - into which a non-Muslim may enter - except on Fridays. You may enter the mosque, built by Abd el Moumen between 1153/54 (and sacked in 1276) through a small, sturdy door in the corner of the main tower. Now roofless, deep shadows thrown by the surviving bas relief pise columns and carefully restored arcades and horseshoe arches contrast with the large sunbaked wall. Intact amongst the ruins witness the fine examples of the ancient, intricate and variety in Almohad decor of rosette, scallop and palmette. Cedar from Azrou is now used for the ceilings; a special lime has been imported from Spain; no cement or concrete is used and the several cupolas have been restored in some areas with richly decorated stalactite plaster work.
In the actual village there is another small kasbah in ruins, a Medersa and an old water tank which produces a regular supply of the French gastronomic delight - edible frogs. And you might buy a litre of Tin-Mal olive oil from the olive press and mill down towards the river, where your guide will prepare your picnic on the river banks. Refreshed, set off towards the south down the valley of the Oued N’Fis through stands of juniper, Barbary fig, apricot, cherry and walnut tree, bypassing many Berber hamlets on the lower slopes of the Adrar Adafelt until you reach the town of Mouldikht at the beginning of the cork-screw road up through the Tizi n’Test (3080m). Here rejoin your vehicle for the long drive back up the delightful valley to Ouirgane.
After an early breakfast set off at 9am from your hotel with your Moroccan Mountain Guide towards the south along mule tracks near a long salty stream to arrive some 90 minutes later at the village of Marigha Izdern (1205m) and on to Imareghan Noufla (1224m) with its age-old stone oil presses still using the traditional grinding round of donkeys or mules. From here, with the Adrar Takherkhourte (2660m) to your right, trek for another 45 minutes alongside scattered fields of maize, seasonal wild flowers, olive tree stands and occasional Berber hamlets to the little village of Tinzert ('nose' in Amazigh, the Berber language).
Here, surrounded by mountains, you’ll come across a centuries-old salt mining industry - cavernous wells from which the local peasants draw water into large salt flats so as to evaporate out the water. Doubtless you may see the womenfolk riding from hamlet to hamlet, selling their salt from the back of their donkeys - or on to the local entrepreneur. You should also, depending on the weather and time of day, get to see the Berber women in their brightly-coloured clothing sitting on their haunches for a chat after gathering wood and hay, which they still carry on their backs.
Salt has been a currency for ages, more precious to these people than gold and once a prime destination of the caravans from Mali and Mauritania. Some 35 minutes trekking past this special village your guide will prepare your field picnic near stands of olive, walnut and almond trees. Afterwards continue walking for 45 minutes up to the top of the Tizi n'Tarabaza (1706m), affording a magnificent panoramic view of the Plateaux of Tarabaza, Khik and Moulay Brahim; of the distant Tizi n'Test, Jbel Oukaimeden and the Oussertek Valley.
Later the route continues downhill for some 60 minutes along zig-zagging mule trails alongside ochre sandstone and milk-white limestone hills to the village of Tagadirt n'Oussni in the Ait Mizane Valley where your guide will rendezvous with your transport taking you back to your hotel.
Day Hike to Tassa Ouirgane with English-speaking guide and lunch included, starting from your accommodation in Ouirgane or Marigha.
Date range: , Option: Tassa Ouirgane National Park
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All prices are per person
All prices are per person
"Everything worked like clockwork. The drivers and guides were punctual, very kind and informative. We had good advice about the places we stayed from them and the riad staff. We enjoyed everything about the trip. Thank you very much!"
S Walker-Stokes, March 2019