Anti-Atlas, From the Atlantic to the Tafilalet
Unlike the High Atlas, the Anti-Atlas has more modest summits, the Jbel Sirwa only reaching 3,300metres for example.
All the massifs that compose it have different geological features, fauna and flora, but all are cemented by this Berber culture which characterizes the whole Moroccan’s South. It is also much more arid due to the proximity of the Hamada of Drâa, last rampart before the Saharan immensity.
Stretching 600 km from the Atlantic to the rich palm grove of the Tafilalet, only the magnificent green valley of the Drâa cuts it in its north-south length, between the Jbel Bani and Sagho, bringing a little freshness in this succession of arid Massifs with rare flora.
The Atlantic ocean and Tafraout
The western slopes of the Anti-Atlas, near the Atlantic ocean, are often more populated than in the interior and are crossed by picturesque paths that allow to reach small and friendly authentic villages. The small town of Tafraout, which can be reached from Tiznit by a charming road crossing the Kerdous pass, can serve as a base for visiting this wonderful region.
This large village counts 1,500 inhabitants and is surrounded by a pink granite barrier, with anarchic and surprising structure. When sun goes down, colors of this impressive rocky barrier are just amazing.
Collective taxis can take you to the Gorges of Aït Mansour, on a thirty kilometers journey between dry mountains offering some extraordinary views.
This excursion leads to a small palm grove where fruit trees are legions, including almond trees whose blooming, during January and February, colors the gardens with shimmering shades constrasting with those of the surrounding mountains.
Further north of Tafraout, the small mountain oasis of the Ammeln also offers this kind of contrast with its “douars” (small villages) nestled on the flanks of Jbel Lekst and the luxuriance of its gardens.
Desert and mountainous area
The road to Foum Zguid is absolutely desert and semi-mountainous. This small village is typical of the great Moroccan South, crushed by the heat due to the proximity of the beautiful depression of the Iriki and Erg Chegaga.
Tazenakht, close to the Jbel Sirwa
From Foum Zguid you have to go north to Tazenakht, the capital of the Ouzguida carpet, down the mountain of Sirwa. This massif is an ancient volcano culminating at 3300meters. It has become a privileged destination and a challenge for hikers. An agglomerate of diverse and chaotic rocks arrives to form a unique and enchanting landscape.
On its slopes, covered with wild thyme, you can see horses, mules, or flocks of dromedaries feeding in peace. Raptors, sometimes gazelles and bighorn sheeps make short appearances. Small oasis dotted with fruit trees add a note of refreshing greenery.
The Jbel Saghro, a major massif of the Anti-Atlas, is distinguished above all by the purity of the mineral universe it emits. It presents a tangle of tapered ridges, steep peaks with walls worthy of a western decor.
A discreet fauna where some foxes and birds of prey survive, except for the ‘valley of birds’, a small paradise for amateur birders near the village of Tagdilt, which is accessed from Nkob by taking the direction of the small Berber village of Ikniouin on the way to Boumalne Dades, once past the Tizi-n-Tazazert.
From the Drâa to Tafilalet
From the Drâa valley, the road runs along the Anti-Atlas, starting from Tansikht, on the 250 km between this beautiful valley and the immense palm grove of Tafilalet. The biggest palm grove is the one that extends from Nkob to Mellal, then that of Tazzarine.
These two villages are, with Alnif, the main ones on this route crossing the Djbel Saghro. Nkob is a relaxing stage on this sometimes challenging course. Its palm plantation nevertheless has some forty old kasbahs.
The carpets used here are renowned, their manufacture being transmitted only by word of mouth and from mother to daughter. Various rock art sites and marble mining are also an attraction for this region.
The palm grove of Tazzarine, formerly called Tizzri (which means “meeting” in Berber’ dialect) is home to various populations. The Jewish community has left its mark on it and you can still stroll in an old clay mellah. This palm plantation alone summarizes what makes the cultural diversity of southern Morocco.
Close to the Hamada of the Drâa, it has, besides this old mellah, many ancient kasbahs and it is in its green gardens that the henna is cultivated, this magnificent plant having made its fame.
Last stop before the palm grove of Tafilalet, the village of Alnif, down of Mount Bougafer which is renowned for its potato. It marks the end of the journey through this beautiful Anti-Atlas that has kept its wild beauty and authenticity.
A few kilometers away, by joining Rissani, another story, another Moroccan universe begins in this palm grove with thousands of date palms.
Toward Taroudant and Taliouin
From Tafraout it’s possible to reach Taroudant or Taliouine. Both are on the road linking the seaside resort of Agadir to Ouarzazate. This route crosses the Anti-Atlas heart through the picturesque fortified town of Igherm.
A pleasant and beautiful mountain road dotted with small Berber villages inviting to the reverie. A discovery as human as cultural by confronting the traditional life perpetuated by the populations who inhabit them and animate them.
Leaving this charming village of Igherm, two directions are possible. One of these go directly to the valley of Souss and Taroudant.
Don’t forget to stop to visit the verdant palm grove of Tioute and its windmills, where thousands of date palms are cultivated, but also its Argan’s cooperative where women produce this precious oil as well as derived cosmetic products.
The other road allows to reach Taliouine, capital of this magnificent Moroccan saffron delicately harvested in the region. It crosses landscapes of medium mountains winding between the 1,500 to 2,500 meters of altitude summits.
To the south
A more southerly route leaves from Bouizarkane to Foum Zguid to join the jbel Bani. It is dotted with many small oases, havens of appropriate freshness in these practically desert places.
As an example, we can quote the oasis Id Aïssa. Just a little away from the road, the small main “douar” of Amtoudi, where we can still admire collective granaries of the twelfth century in activity until the 50’s.
During this period, each family had a storage room, to preserve food, family documents and various wealth. They also served as shelters. The inhabitants came to take refuge with their herds and their meager goods during the raids carried out by enemy tribes.
This road passes through Akka, in a modest oasis with mainly fruit trees and date palms. By taking time, you can also visit the remains of an old “mellah”, as well as one of the many rock-art sites nestled in the surroundings. Then we arrive at Tata, a small town with pink hues, located in the center of a pleasant palm grove after the harshness of the trail which allows to get there.
This palm grove is also doted of some thirty old “ksour” , and its proximity to the Saharan regions means that the Berber and Tuareg populations are beginning to rub shoulders. Sometimes, only the color of women’s clothing makes it possible to distinguish them.