3 passes tour through the High Atlas mountains

3 passes tour through the High Atlas mountains

 

Snowy, jagged mountains, fertile valleys, fantastic rock formations, tiny Berber villages and dreamy views that will never let you go again. The 3 passes tour from Tabant to Bou Thrarar is probably the most beautiful thing the High Atlas mountains has to offer and should not be missing on any (4WD) travel itinerary.

For us personally, this tour was a real adventure – exciting, demanding, unforgettable.

  • Distance: around 90 km
  • Time required: 3-6 hours depending on road and weather conditions
  • easy navigation
  • in good road and weather conditions also possible for regular cars
  • Attention: in winter, the gravel road may be impassable even for off-road vehicles due to snowfall!
  • The tour can also be used in the opposite direction

 

 

3 passes tour from Tabant to Bou Thrarar: the route

We started in the small Berber village of Tabant. Especially on Sundays there is bustle – then locals come from all over the area to sell their goods at the weekly souk. The hustle and bustle and the caravans of packed donkeys alone are worth a visit!

Behind the village, you leave the paved road and turn onto a good piste towards the southeast. At the village Ibakkliouine you can marvel at dinosaur tracks. The newly created, wide gravel road leads in serpentines higher and higher up the mountain. There are magical views of the fertile so-called „Happy Valley“ with its fields, the gently rolling hills and snow-capped mountains on the horizon.

 

 

After about 15 km you have reached the first pass of the Tizi n ‚Ait Imi (2.905 m). Here you should definitely take a (longer) break and admire the fabulous view! Bizzar shaped rocks, jagged peaks, rolling valleys – a world-class mountain panorama (especially when there’s snow on the mountain tops)!

The wide, good track winds in serpentines down to the valley. Here, a new gravel road leads along a dry river bed and past beautiful rock formations reminiscent of the fantastic hoodoos of the famous Bryce Canyon, USA.

 

 

You pass a few tiny Berber villages. Here you may meet nomads and watch the girls washing their clothes in the river.

The track crosses a (lower) river and winds in tight serpentines up the next mountain. Here are the best views of the valley and the winding road.

 

 

At kilometer 38 you reach the small pass Tizi n’Tounsa (2,770 m). From here, the trail leads through beautiful valleys downhill again.

After another climb, you will reach the Tizi el Fouqani (2,997 m) after approx. 46 km. The view over the mountain landscape is majestic!

From here, the newly pushed, wide piste leads down into the valley. You pass breathtaking river valleys and several beautiful Berber villages, where there are also simple accommodations. At the small village of Ameksar (or Ouzighimte) there are two options: the easier route via a pass (2.200m), which is being renewed, or the adventurous drive through the narrow but breathtaking Amejgag gorge. Both options lead to the charming village of Amejgag.

 

 

At the end of the village, depending on the season, the slope may run several hundred meters along the river (which can sometimes be half a meter deep). With a regular car you will probably have problems here.

At the village Alemdoun you will find the paved road leading to Bou Thrarar, M’Gouna and Skoura.

 

 

Attention: on the piste there are constructions going on (as of December 2018) – some sections are already finished and in optimal condition, others are due to construction sometimes even locked or must be avoided (with really long detours). Before the trip you should get information from the locals about the road conditions.

Attention: you should never forget that you are on this tour at altitudes of 2,500 – 3,000m. Snowfall and low temperatures are expected year round. In the winter months, the snow is cleared on the slopes with bulldozers, but – like everything in Morocco – this is a service that can even fail completely without warning or only partially. In winter too, there may be so much snow that the cleared lane becomes so narrow that only narrow vehicles can fit through it. The loose ground can be softened by the snow – then an all-wheel drive is absolutely necessary.

In general, the slope is a true dream that can be enjoyed by all adventurous! In the summer it is feasible for every vehicle and a wonderful tour for every traveler. In winter and in bad weather, however, it can become impassable!

 

 

 

 

 

We personally drove the tour from Tabant in December 2018 and experienced our own little adventure:

  • The slopes were cleared only to the first pass – then complete, up to 1 meter deep snow road
  • we met nomads who walked with their donkeys for days on foot through the mountains
  • we encountered two completely stucked, fully stocked, colorful, Moroccan buses and an estimated 40 brightly-colored locals who were glad to see us and our off-road vehicle
  • several successful and then failed attempts to tow the two buses on the steep snow slope
  • In the end, we got stuck in the snow ourselves
  • then the ambulance and a patient, who had to be taken to the nearest hospital, were stuck in the snow too
  • 4 hours waiting time full of great moments with the exclusively Arabic-speaking, incredibly friendly Berbers later, appeared on the horizon finally three (!) Bulldozers and excavator to free us all from our deadlock
  • At the end of the day we were the only vehicle that managed the route over the 3rd pass thanks to 4 (!) snow chains, four-wheel drive, high ground clearance, two recovery sand boards and very, very great effort

A day that will be remebered for a long time. A day that showed us the beauty of the Moroccan mountains and the friendliness of the locals. A day that gave us confindence in our vehicle and our abilities.  A day of which we will still tell our grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best tools for this tour are:

 

 

 

 
Travel Guide by Edith Kohlbach „Travel Guide Morocco“. (The book is in german language) 

The book describes the route as „Tour D16“.

Here you can also find useful coordinates.
 
 
 

  • Offroad route directory of Wikiloc (fee required)
  • Offraod navigation via Locus Map (chargeable)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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