After my two
spring fly & ride one-weekers I decide to continue riding for a few more days and log some new tracks for my Morocco guidebook. We tried this in a 4×4 Duster in February but that was a wash-out due to the previous week’s bad weather. Now in April, Ramadan was not proving a problem so, depending on energy levels and the heat, I’d try and pack another six days in.
It’s not just simply recording a GPS tracklog; I need to jot down details and annotate waypoints, etc.
There’s weeks of riding to do; I’m just concentrating on the blue area left (western High Atlas) and maybe the purple area (Jebel Saro).
It rained in February and water’s still streaming from the hillsides
High Atlas village
I ride out of Ijoukak along my regular tour route
Sigh, another day on a 310GS but wishing it was a 300L ( soon it will be)
Up at the 2550-metre watershed (8400′) it’s balmy.
High Atlas village 2
And another. I should make a series of postcards
Wildflowers are out. Spring is here and will be greener than normal
I’m heading for Toubkal, but not along this road near Igli. I’ll take a much longer track through the hills.
I can’t resist nipping down to the Assif Tifnoute river. Crossing this to make a fun short cut has been a fixation of mine for years. As you can see the concrete ford got washed out long ago.
Here’s a map I drew in 2021 when I was here on the Africa Twin. ‘Crossing exists?’ is the washed-out ford and to which the answer is: ‘not really’.
An alternative crossing developed just downstream. We were on that far bank a few weeks ago in the Duster, but a new flood-carved bank on this side is now a few feet high. Slithering down it to the river bed, the crossing could be done, but today it’s too hot to try on a podgy 310 as I’ll not be able to get back up
That done, I head back north up a parallel valley, following a new route
Anywhere the mountainous terrain permitted a bit of cultivation (good soil; water), a village developed. I suspect this all happened around the Arab invasion in the late 7th century when the Berbers fled to the hills. Before that there were much easier places to farm.
Soon the bedrock turns to granite; granite sand is nice stuff to ride; the hard angular quartz grains lock up to make good grip compared to rounded sandstone grains. Well, that’s my theory.
A hot backwind blows up the valley; I’m wilting and the fan is humming. I barely ride 10 minutes without a jotting stop
Result! I reach the three-way junction …
… I located with the group a week ago, but from another direction.
The deserted market square of Taouyalte. I like it when distinctive online aerial imagery translates into a tangible place
Chummy chappy in the village shop; I buy bread, tuna and a litre of sugar-saturated orange liquide
They say it’s impolite for tourists to eat conspicuously during Ramadan daytime, but there’s no one around. They’re all at home siesting till dusk.
I continue northward, higher up into the arid hills
A green splash of barley terracing
I hop off to water some high-altitude shrubs.
These blue hunting signs often appear at high points or cols; here about 2300m or 7500′
A big, steep 700-m descent down to the Toubkal road
Near the bottom I find a shady glade for a bit of a break and a shrug
Anmid (unless I am very much mistaken)
Soon I rejoin the road. Left is less than 20km back to Igli, but I’ve had a great dirt ride taking the long way round
Assarag (Ahl Tifnoute), or maybe Toubkal (like the 4167-m mountain nearby)
It’s 3pm in Amsouzart and I am shagged out; that’s me done for the day
But after a double nous-nous (‘half-half’, my new favorite coffee) and a selection of sugary snacks…
… I power on up the dead-end valley for a look-see. While the river flows, the laundry dries
I’d hoped to check out Lac Ifni as I’ll never be closer. I get to the base of the track but matey in the gite told me it’s a 2-hour return walk. With these knees? I don’t think so
Next day I need fuel if I’m to head back into the hills. The nearest station is Aguim, 50km, on the Marrakech road
Turn off to Anezal? Interesting…
Classic High Atlas vistas
Backtracking from Agium with another 300km in the tank, I reach Three Mast Pass and the old MH8 track
Distances to probably Taouyalte and Askaoun. I can manage that
Soon I reach a junction where I want to link to a route we tried in the Duster
You’ve heard of the Love Shack, well this is the Love Trough, same thing but for sheep.
Adventure motorcycling? No, just nipping over to see his gran
Ait Qalla below where the road resumes
Same-ish spot in February where we got snowed back around 2200m and were unsure if worse lay ahead
Back at the junction, I turn south into the lush ‘Limestone Basin’ I recall from 2008. The only place you’ll see proper grass like this in Morocco is well above 2000 metres or on an oligarch’s lawn
An easy track unrolls south across the plateau
Next time I’ll go down there. I bet it links up.
I reach the col, now back again on granite sands
Another old milepost with familiar village names
This could be a handy auberge; there isn’t another for hours
In Askaoun I nip into the village shop for some yummy flatbreads and eggs for a tankbag picnic
The once gnarly MH5 track around the top of Jebel Sirwa is now a wide haul road. Thank the new silver mine, nearby
My Mosko Surveyor jacket staves off the sub-Alpine chill
Great views from up here down to the Ouarzazate basin
Looking back towards Toubkal
Great spot for a grassy camp alongside a trickling stream
The track has been rerouted down behind Amassine village where I close the loop on the Ait Qalla road
Slow flat on the front but no nail. Bent rim? Had that on the tour the other week. Odd
Pizza in the Bab Sahara in Tazenakht. Spent many happy nights with the lovely folks here
Lovely scent off this orange tree in the evenings. Oh to be an insect!
Ominous donkey below the ‘Timouka’ Pass – actually Tizi Haround 1830m
A secret track winds up that valley. More about that later
I find another obscure ascent over the Issil escarpment that proves to be in good shape too
Over the top and round the back I pin down a key junction
I’d love to carry on but need to return home early. I build a cairn above the pass
Back down in Taliouine, Hamid sourced me some nutty, extra virgin argan oil at 40 quid a litre! The chilled EVOO comes free
The amazing climb up to the Tizi n Test; just right on a 310GS or similar
On the north side of the Test, following the February rains this river…
… filled up this near empty reservoir in a matter of weeks. That’s Marrakech set up for the summer
I drop off the 310 and head for the airport. Can’t wait to get back on my new bike and carry on exploring, but it’ll be too hot by the time I can get there. I’ll have to wait till October.
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