Trekking in the High Atlas Mountains : Ighil M'Goun #2

This is the second section of an illustrated diary of a trek in the High Atlas mountains in Morocco, in the remote region around Ighil M'Goun, where small Berber villages are scattered through the varied landscape. After a long journey perched high and uncomfortably on the "dung truck", we arrive in the late evening of our first day out of Marrakech at Takhidain, in the Ait Bougemez valley, where we spend the night...

This diary is now organized as four pages: page 1 | page 2 | page 3 | page 4

Morocco photo Morocco photo After a night in the house of our guide Brahim, in the village of Takhidain, we set off on the first day of our trek. Fortunately our heavy baggage, tents and food are carried by these incredibly strong and sure-footed mules.
Morocco photo Morocco photo The flatlands of the valley are very fertile and every possible space is cultivated. Sheer cliffs tower over the tall village houses and grain stores.
Morocco photo Our first night under canvas – at Abachkou, in the Gougoult valley – is a new experience for two of our group, much to the amusement of the children from the village who gather to watch. Now just how do you put up a tent?
Morocco photo Morocco photo The houses of the village, nestling in the rocky hillsides, are built of huge mud bricks from the local rock and soil. The land above Abachkou is terraced to gain the maximum space for growing crops.
Morocco photo Morocco photo Climbing next day to the col at Tizi-n'Tighist, at 2399 metres, we find a lonely shepherd guarding these superb 3000-year-old rock carvings.
Morocco photo Morocco photo Breakfast in the mess tent is always a vibrant occasion! We find that pouring hot water on a mixture of muesli and powdered milk makes a sort of porridge. Outside, the huge bulk of our gear is gathered together to be loaded onto the hardworking mules, at our campsite at Tarbat n'Tirsal.
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Soon we are on our way in the clear air and bright early morning sun. Before long, everyone gets excited by the view as we reach a col at 2850m, beneath the imposing bulk of the mountain of Jebel Rhat, and I'm persuaded to stand nervously at the edge of the cliff to be in the picture. Later I lost my elegant hat to the wind.
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After traversing the scree on Jebel Rhat, there's time for a few moments of contemplation of this vast, empty landscape. A shepherd guards his sheep as they try to find a few scraps of grass in the arid soil.
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It's very hot, and bright. Very bright. We drop down a steep scree path and pause for our daily picnic lunch, a culinary masterpiece freshly prepared by our Berber hosts, before pushing on to camp eventually on a small plain opposite the villages of Imazayn and Tazaght. The bathroom is close by, and the ladies in our party are watched closely by one of the village elders.
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