Morocco (May-June 2016): 2. From Amassine to Ijoukak

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Topographic maps of this section of the trek:

- South-east part of the section, covered by the 100K topographic map Taliwine: click here to see the complete full-resolution map (without annotations). The green dots are campsites.

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- North-west part of the section, covered by the 100K topographic maps Tizi-n-Test″ and ″Amezmiz: click here and hereto see the complete full-resolution maps (without annotations). The two maps have been established on two different years and do not match perfectly.

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Google Earth map of the entire section: click here (.kmz file) to access all the waypoints and placemarks in Google Earth. (Reminder: the green markers are campsites)

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We left Amassine in the afternoon of the third day of trek. We headed east and for a while we crossed an arid monotonous plateau.

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Later the terrain got more interesting, first with large boulders and rock formations.

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Soon we passed by several groups of azibs among surprisingly large green pastures and fields.

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A substantial fraction of the water feeding these pastures and fields comes from a set of sources called Ait Maghlif (″ait″ is the Berber word for ″spring″) located between Jebels Ouzim and Amjjod (see topographic map at the top of this page).

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The small valley between Jebels Ouzim and Amjjod is an exceptionally beautiful area surrounded by stunning rock formations...

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...where we set our camp for the night (WP 03-04).

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Large rock formation near our camp. The first picture below, with Abderrahmane hiking, gives a sense of the size of some of the rocks.

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Other rock formations.

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On the next morning, as we left the Ait Maghlif area toward Jebel Taska, the rock formations became much smaller.

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Jebel Toubkal in the High Atlas became visible again (main peak in the background of this photo).

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We then passed several small groups of azibs.

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We climbed along the rim of a small canyon...

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...to reach a small pass leading to Jebel Taska (2764m).

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Azibs (yellow pin WP 04-05) below Jebel Taska. We stopped there for a lunch on a hot day. (Several peaks in the Atlas mountains are called Taska. In Berber language ″taska″ means ″carpet loom″. I assume that in the eyes of local people the so-named peaks look like looms.)

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Pastures and fields below the azibs, with Jebel Aderdor on the right (see topographic map).

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Looking back toward Jebel Taska.

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We crossed again an arid plateau, mostly off any trail, with view over Jebels Ouanoukrim (the mountain with the most snow) and Toubkal (the sharper peak) in the background. (See annotated Google Earth image at the top of this page.)

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Surprisingly, despite the absence of any significant peaks nearby, we reached a green area. We set our camp (WP 04-07) near a small spring below an azib.

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View toward the east as we left our camp on the next morning, with Jebel Taska still visible in the background.

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More plateau landscape, with views over the High Atlas in the background.

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Finally, we reached the end of the plateau, above a valley that roughly marks the limit between the Anti-Atlas on the south and the High Atlas on the north. We went down into the valley to reach the pretty village of Anmid.

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From Anmid we hiked first on a dust road, then for a couple of kilometers along a paved road, to the village of Amzerkou, where we set our camp for the night (WP 05-03). Below, the friendly miller of Amzerkou proudly showing his self-made mill.

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On the next morning, we hiked toward Tizi-n-Zaout (WP 06-02) along Assif-n-Oumoumen (river). There had been a major storm a couple of weeks earlier. The damages of the flood were still visible in the river bed.

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The village of Ikis (misplaced on the wrong side of the river in the topographic map).

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A smaller village higher up in the valley of Assif-n-Oumoumen.

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We then left the valley of Assif-n-Oumoumen to climb a steep trail toward Tizi-n-Zaout. Below, the small mosque in the last village before the pass (WP 06-01).

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View of the valley of Assif-n-Oumoumen during the climb to the pass. The last village we crossed is visible in the middle of the photo. The small cone on the center-left of the skyline in the far background is Jebel Sirwa.

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Views of Jebel Zaout (3001m) on the left and Tizi-n-Zaout (2600m) on the right.

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The narrow trail had been damaged in several placed by the previous storm. The mule had to be both pulled from the front and pushed from the back to overcome some sections.

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Finally, the whole team reached the pass.

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View from the pass into the valley of Assif-n-Ouanoukrim.

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Start of the descent into the valley of Assif-n-Ouanoukrim, with Jebel Ouanoukrim in the close background.

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After a steep descent we reached Assif-n-Ouanoukrim...

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...and we set our camp near the river under the protection of big boulder (WP 06-03)

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On the next day we first hiked down the relatively narrow canyon of the river.

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Later, we started encountering local people and then we passed by several villages.

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Village of Ait Ayoub.

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Village of Taghaghist (WP 07-02), where we spent a night in a ″gite″ (sort of guesthouse).

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Houses and streets of Taghaghist.

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Leaving Taghaghist. The gite‛s owner (on the left) was also the muezzin of the village.

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In the shade of olive trees.

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Another village further down.

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We eventually reached a paved road along Assif-n-Ougandis (WP 08-01). We had to hike about 7kms on this road to reach Ijoukak. Fortunately, there was very little traffic.

 

Reaching Ijoukak, with Jebel Gourza (3280m) visible in the background, which we will ascend three days later.

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Ijoukak is a small stopover town on the road from Marrakesh to Tizi-n-Test and Taroudant. We bought food for the rest of the trek and spent the night in a local gite.

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In Ijoukak, we also changed mule and muleteer. To facilitate the return trip of the two muleteers (the two Abderrahmane) who had been with us since day 1, Oumar arranged for a pickup truck to carry them and their mule back home in southern Sirwa.

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Our new muleteer (Mohamed) was a good friend of Oumar.

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From Ijoukak we headed west and then north to cross the High Atlas through Jebels above Amezmiz (stage 3).

 

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