Trek across the Djebel Saghro and the Valley of the Roses

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In February, we planned our second trip in Anti-Atlas two years after our first meeting date… We were then roaming the mountains around Tafraoute, driven by MartinPierre website !
This trip naturally took a trek shape… We enjoy having a landscape diversity and rhythm during our itineraries, so we concocted our own route.

The two days Djebel Saghro crossing is the first stage of a too short week-long trip, in which a middle break was planned. If we are usually looking for autonomy in trek, this format allows us to visit other valleys (during the ‘break’ day) and allows us to have relatively light bags : 24 and 31 lbs. For the second stage, we chose the Valley of the Roses, well known for its brights colours in summer. The birch trees in winter offered us surprising landscapes.

In Morocco, buying food in small villages and hamlets is not a problem. Many groceries are present even out of the tourist trails, but they are not often referenced. Sometimes you could overtake them by a mile and see the sign mentioning them.


That was amazing. Our first time in Morocco was more than a cultural and landscape upheaval, we had no idea that a second time in Morocco would give us such intense sensations. This adventure was also an opportunity to carry out a test on the Quechua Evofit MH 500 shoes. Explore A Perte de Vue shares with you all the practical informations and the itinerary.

Mountains under first lights
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The itinerary

One part of this trek takes place in the Djebel Saghro and another one in the famous Valley of the Roses.
A complete food supply is possible halfway in Boumalne Dades city. Thanks to the details on our GPS tracks, you will be able to optimize your bags by buying on tracks some bread, cakes or tea for fews dirhams. As for the water supply in Morocco, you must make sure to bring a purification device. If you need energy supply, bringing a solar pannel is a great option.
This itinerary makes it possible to visit the Dades Gorge by rental car or by walking. We also share with you a touristic tour proposed by a local. The starting point is accessible by bus from Boumalne Dades for 5 dirhams per person. (10 dirhams = 1 euro)

At the Est of d’Ichazzoun n’Imlas

Tourist guides claim that buses prices and shared taxis are similar. However, it is tricky to find a full collective taxi for a specific destination. Not only do you will have to negotiate the price, but you will have to pay for the remaining seats – or wait for people. On the other hand, bus lines leave at regular times throughout the day.

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First stage – Djebel Saghro

Handour – After Igli

The almond trees of the Oasis in the early morning. Between Igui and Tiguiza

During this stage we are confronted with begging. The children ask for pens, dirhams, chocolate. A Berber will tell us later that they exchange their booty for sweets. He regrets this practice during his childhood which earned him some teeth because of the bad dental hygiene in Morocco. J.GANDINI in his book « Pistes du Maroc«  denounces the donations to children (pens, sweets, caps …). This modifies their behaviour and conditions them to beg sometimes aggressively, in an invasive way. He advises giving through organizations, or to village teachers who will then redistribute them to the children.

Towards Igli, the hamlet is located at the foot of the large cliffs on the right

The itinerary of the first day goes along the Wadis and crosses the Oases, it is then not too difficult to find water to purify. In February, we slept in the riverbed which offers very comfortable sand : no thunderstorm was expected. Two shops are on the way, one in Ichazzoun N’Imlas and the other in Igli. Let’s be clear, they are small groceries, most of them sell tea, cakes, sweets and sometimes honey, bread, eggs and even the Vache Qui Rit cheese. It is also possible to take a shower in Igli !

It is much-needed to fill up water in Igli itself, or just above the small pond that supply the hamlet. The next water point is only halfway through the second stage.

One view point during the climb after Igli
Le Djebel Saghro

Sleeping places are scarce. Luckily, we come across a nomad who welcomes us into his family. They have built a small stone and earthen hut to store food and sleep sheltered during this period. Everyone shared his food supplies, Moroccan whisky (it’s mint tea), bread baked on the hot stone with our trekking meals to treat everyone. We exchange our habits and customs with Zaïd who speaks a little French.

The night’s sleep was shorter than the others…
Others pictures of Zoé Lefébure on his drawing website

If anyone ever meets Zaïd, he could need a pen and a small battery-powered forehead…

It is a stage of 1400 m of elevation gain, 320 m of altitude drop, 29 linear kilometres. For your information, it took us almost 10 hours without breaks to achieve it.

Altitude changes are here :

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Second stage – Djebel Saghro

Zaïd’s camp towards Tagdilt, then Boumalne Dadès

Nomad camp is the begining of this stage. An alternative way is possible on the ridges at East. Awaken before the dusk, we got a head start by the circus to enjoy the end of the day in Boumalne Dadès.

A lanscape reveals itself
The black rocks with the morning sun

The diversity of the landscapes goes on. Wadis, oases, crests then cirques then a descent with an breathtaking view of the Boumalne Dadès valley. Far ahead, the mountain ranges where are the famous Gorges du Dadès as well as those of Todra.

Further towards Tagdilt it is very easy to find someone to take us to Boumalne Dadès. It is a village that is used to welcome tourists who hike in the Djebel Saghro. The inhabitants like to practice their French and are sometimes too insistent to sleep at home. The negotiation for Boumalne Dadès is quite difficult because of the over-inflated prices proposed. 100 dirhams seems to be a very fair price. Tagdilt is 19 km far from Boumalne Dadès.

More than 5 kilometres away from Tagdilt, children go back and forth to school every day.

Boumalne Dadès is a small 2000 inhabitants town, we find everything we need. It is possible to rent a car there for 30€ per day and to find hotels. As well as Ouarzazate it is a very popular place for Berber carpets. If you wish to take a discovery break , it is possible to make this hike from Aït Ben Ali in the Dades gorges.

It is a stage with 465 metres of elevation gain and 1115 metres altitude drop over a distance of 20 kilometres. We covered it in 6 hours and 30 minutes, excluding breaks.

As we’re going to 2,500 metres high. It is essential to know snow forecast.

Here is the altitude changes of the day.

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Third stage – Toward the Valley of the Roses

From Aït Ben Ali to Bou Tharar

This very nice stage has a very dry first part and a second wooded area part. Once again it will be recommended to refuel in water before walk into this crossing. But don’t panic, a magnificent fountain welcomes you a few kilometers after the start. Then we cross the mountains, beware of the shepherds’ dogs and those of the women who harvest the tea grass, they are unpredictable like the Alpine Patous.

Bou Tharar is discovered some time after having penetrated a very wooded valley. We cross a multitude of oases where the inhabitants cultivate the land, harvest and clean their clothes. They are very curious and propose us to drink tea a few more times.

In Bou Tharar it is possible to find small shops that even sell honey. A little after leaving the village, a path overlooks the road. The viewpoints are exceptional and there are many rudimentary shelters built with earth or even troglodytes.

View on Bou Tharar

This day was very rich in fauna, we saw many aquatic turtles throughout the day, punctuating our hike with « ploufs ». In the evening, it is also possible to see otters hunting.

Here is the route and the altimetric data. The altitude changes is much more moderate than on the first two days and the landscape is just as varied.

This stage has 530 meters of positive elevation gain and 560 meters of elevation drop over 28.7 km. It took us 10 hours.

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Last day

From Bou Tharar to Kelâat M’Gouna

This fourth and last stage starts at the end of the Bou Tharar oasis. Surprising ochre colours are revealed as soon as the sun’s first rays come out.

Panorama of colours

A small but quite remarkable surprise is at the end of the journey: we won’t tell you more!
At Kelâat M’Gouna, there are big coaches that take you back to Ouarzazate for 25 dirhams. They are located after the taxi square.

The Skoura palm grove, a UNESCO World Heritage site, deserves a visit. It is on the return road and accessible by bus for 15 dirhams. It should be noted that the coaches have all the security requirements. (We even found them very Hi-Tech).

This is a 401 metres elevation gain stage and 506 metres of negative gradient. The stage seems very flat but there are a lot of small hills all along the stage.
These 26 km were done in 8 hours and 30 minutes.

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Recommandations

  • There is not much drinking water in Morocco. Having a device for filtering is essential.
  • The February weather is rather mild. It can go negative at night and remains mild during the day (between 15 and 20 degrees).
  • Be careful with sheepdogs, the Aïdi can be aggressive if you approach the herds.
  • Beware, in the middle of the summer season temperatures can reach 50 degrees (122 °F). Even if this peak is not reached, it becomes difficult for a non-acclimatized person to hike, even if not sporty. Cobras and other species (requiring special precautions) appear in its mountains.

Have a nice trip !

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