Saghro means “drought”, and for most of the year this dramatic region with its volcanic mountains and lunar landscapes, extraordinary rock formations and ancient nomadic people, is in the grip of severe drought.
This is home to the legendary Ait Atta nomadic tribes who fought off the French until 1933 to retain their hold on this mysterious region. The Ait Atta Berbers were in Morocco long before the Arabs and the arrival of Islam in the 7th Century and were the leading Berber tribe between the 15th and 19th centuries. They became a political force in the mountainous region of Jbel Saghro in the 16th century, remaining fiercely independent. Now they number well in the hundreds of thousands. "Aït" means; "people of" in the Tamazight language.
All of this makes the Saghro a trekkers dream; This is as “off the beaten track” as it gets, as apart from maybe a few other trekkers and the possible sighting of a few MTB´s, there is no other form of tourism. The locals do not benefit from it. Summer temperatures soar to the 50´s and water has to be trucked in to houses on a daily basis. The best times to trek therefore are spring and autumn. In the winter there is often snowfall and a short spell of heavy rain to swell the underground water table. Nights are usually spent in wild camps although there are a few gites. There are some excellent locations which have been selected by the local mule-teams for their suitability. Apart from purchasing bread from remote villages, everything is bought at the trail-head and brought in by mules. Despite any preconceived limitations, food on this trek is excellent, varied and plentiful. As there is nowhere to recharge devices, you are advised to bring power-packs, or a solar charger if you wish to take photos all the duration of the trek. Most of the people you will see are nomadic, driving their flocks of sheep, goats and even camels between pastures; children can attend special schools for nomads located in remote valleys. We ask that you practice minimal impact; responsible tourism on a trek of this nature is vital, and please carry out everything feasible, leaving as little trace as possible.
6 Day Trek in the volcanic lunar landscapes of the Saghro Mountains.
Day 1: Boumalne Dades - Tagdilt - Imi n´Ouarg
The trek starts from the trail-head town of Boumalne Dades, you can arrange transport with us, or take the national bus to be in Boumalne the previous day and meet your guide on arrival. Accommodation will be organised for you either way. The guide will organise all the shopping and a meeting point for the mule-team. You will take local transport from Boumalne to Tagdilt where you meet the mule team and load up the mules. Please make sure you have everything you require as there are no places for shopping except very occasional local shops that are not always open. Please also respect the baggage weight allowance of 15kg. Once loaded up, the trek starts, at this point you have crossed the open plain between the Dades Valley and the outer edges of the Saghro range. The trek starts with a gentle walk along a dry river bed and along a sandy road passing a few houses with almonds, figs and a few vegetables. The first village you encounter as you trek towards the mountains is a curious mixture of sub-saharans from Mali and Senegal that have long since settled here and blended with the local tribes. The rest of the day is easy trekking as you gain height. Lunch in a sheltered spot by a water source. The route follows the river, often dry, but the size of the rocks and smoothness show that at certain times of the year, a huge force of water does flow through. Small homesteads with fruits and vegetables appear as you trek up the valley, mountains rising on both sides. The late afternoon brings you to your campsite in a field. Dinner in the mess tent. Wood is very scarce so campfires are very rare.
Day 2: Imi n´Ouarg - Jbel Kouaouch 2592m - Igli
After breakfast, the trek starts while the mule-team pack up; they will catch up and go ahead to prepare lunch. Continuing up the valley, boys pass on their way down to school a few kilometres below, near our lunch stop of the previous day. Today includes a long 600m ascent to the highest point of Jbel Kouaouch at 2592 metres and then descends 800m through volcanic landscapes full of amazing geological rocks and mountains. Lunch in a small grove of trees by a water source; the only trees for miles. You will pass nomadic camps in the afternoon as you continue the descent to the lunar landscapes this region is best known for and where your campsite will be waiting. Sunset and sunrise are unbelievable in this location as are the panoramic vistas.
Day 3: Igli - Tajalajt Gorge
After breakfast, you set off with the guide on a stony track that leads through this rocky landscape down past rivers of solidified molten lava and black rock. A small village in the distance and an oasis is the exit for those doing the traverse trek to N´kob. You will continue heading west, small farmsteads appear and lunch will be near a river bed, possibly in someone’s garden. The afternoon trek is in the gorge of Tajalajt, towering cliff faces soar either side of your route. The night can be camping or at a local gite.
Day 4: Tajalajt - Assaka n´Ait Ouzzine
Today you will need to make sure you have plenty of water and cover form overhead sun, the gorge is narrow and can be hot. The geological formations and strata of the cliffs are ever chamging in colours as the minerals change. Lunch in a sheltered spot. The gorge continues in the afternoon, you will reach the village of Assaka where you can camp on the football pitch, however further up the trail, there is a ruined kasbah of the same name which makes for a more romantic campsite and away from the children who can be bothersome.
Day 5: Assaka Kasbah - Tagmout *- Lmars - Tidkit
After breakfast, leaving the mule-team to break camp, you follow an old trail as it passes through more volcanic landscapes where pyroclastic flows once poured down these mountainsides. After walking in open lands with black rocks and with no sign of trees, you suddenly come across a grove of poplars and the muleteers cooking up a delicious lunch. This is a welcome respite. This side of the mountains has more flora and fauna and colours are more vibrant. You are likely to meet nomadic families with their huge herds of sheep and goats as they travel from pasture lands. You also pass a remote school for nomadic children. Small villages become more apparent as you near the campsite, the last one for this trek. *Optional traverse trek from Tagmout to Nkob if you wish to go to the Sahara.
Day 6: Tidkit - Ait Youl - Kelaat Mgouna
Today, your route lies north as you trek out through open landscapes with small farms and large vegetable fields, following dry river beds and passing underground cave dwellings used by wintering nomads. You may even meet camels here as some nomads have them. The trek ends at Ait Youl, home of one of the Muleteers, lunch will be prepared here while your transport arrives to bring you to your requested destination.