For this second hike the folks at Auberge Le Fesitval strongly recommended a guide, and with no real trail to follow, at least not the way we went, I would agree. The hike starts about 3 kilometers down the road from Festival towards Tamtattouchte. There are no real markings, just a faint trail that heads up on the left, to the southwest. The trail soon hits a dry river bed that we follow to a trail that climbs up on the left to a plateau, passing a couple of Berber camps.
At this point our guide, Carim, gives a choice of the more difficult route that has the better views of the gorge or the longer easier route that continues further down the ridge before descending down to the floor of the gorge. We of course choose the views. Little did we know just how difficult it would be.
Crossing the plateau we reach the edge of the ridge for a stunning view of the gorge down below.
From here our guide continues on an overland route that traces the canyon ridge to the right descending where ever he can, scrambling down small ledges and on loose scree.
We eventually hit a trail that winds around to the cliff face we need to descend in order to reach the river bed below. He tells us that the Berber women use this “trail” to bring up 40 kilo sacks of herbs.
Unfortunately I’m not a Berber woman! The next section involves descending a large cliff face angled at 60° (shown above) such that if you were to fall you would plummet down the side of the canyon. While I started down using all four limbs I just don’t have the experience to be comfortable with this kind of descent and quickly give it up.
Later, when viewing the route from below, I think I was crazy to even try.
Regrettably the alternative route was not much better. We climb back up loose scree and across to the next possible point of descent, a 100 foot dry waterfall. This was manageable but involved climbing down a series of 15 foot vertical rock faces.
Once off the rocks it’s still a long slog down more loose scree to the river bed and up to the trail on the other side that leads to the narrow part of the gorge we viewed from above.
This trail was definitely above my level of comfort and therefore not the most pleasant, but the views were as spectacular as promised.
Guide cost 400 dirham (about $48 US), an additional 50 dirham for a ride back to Auberge Le Festival.
10 kilometers with a total ascent of 650 meters.
March 30, 2013
For links to all the posts in this series see the Morocco page.