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Trek Ait Bouguemez The Valley of Happiness
Aït Bouguamaz is the name of a valley and its inhabitants. The name is derived from the name Aït Bouammass which means in local Amazigh (Berber) language "the local inhabitants". It is in the central High Atlas Mountains. Referred to as the "happy valley". This name has been attributed by foreign visitors to the valley impressed by the hospitality of its inhabitants and their joy especially during their abundant festivities during the summer and autumn celebrating weddings, religious festivals and harvests.
Aït Bouguemez is located at the eastern limit of the province of Azilal and west of Ouarzazate at an altitude of 1800 to 2400 m in the central High Atlas dominated by the M'goun Massif culminating at 4068 m. The valley is dominated on all sides by several peaks over 3000 m high. On its east side by Wawgoulzat (3763 m) and Igoudamen (3500m) and from the west by Azourki (3677 m) and Tizal (3100 m).
The valley stretches its lush orchards and green pastures over some thirty kilometers, which makes it the longest and widest valley of altitude of the High Atlas and Morocco. It has 27 villages with ancestral architecture; mud brick houses scattered throughout the valley enhance its unspoiled atmosphere using natural building materials such as clay, stone, wood, plaster ... And has a population of about 14,000 inhabitants.
More than a million years ago, a collapse barred the valley and a lake of about twenty kilometers formed upstream and alluvium accumulated there. After the dam broke, flat lands emerged and gave rise to a valley of great fertility and exceptional width in the mountains.
The Ait Bouguemez valley is located at an altitude between 1800 and 2300 m in the M’goun massif culminating at 4068 m in the central High Atlas. It is i 200 kilometers east of Marrakech
Surrounded by culminating peaks at altitudes between 3000 and 3700 m, the valley runs along the wadi Bouguemez and its tributaries on about thirty km. It is home to about thirty Berber villages. The latest census reveals that Ait Bouguemez has some 30 thousand inhabitants.
Time of Year to Visit
June, July, and from late August into early September is the best time to be here and a great time to experience this removed and unique corner of North Africa.
How Trekking is Done in Ait Bouguemez
Overnights on treks are a combination of camping and local guesthouse lodging. Overnights in lodges are few and far between, but you’ll still enjoy the various village visits and walk throughs that occur on most day’s walks. M’goun is a removed area of the country that should only be visited and trekked by those who are fit enough, who have some experience, and those without medical conditions that would inhibit themselves or group members from enjoying their time.
This route is fully customizable and tailored to your preferences and travel style. Please see the full itinerary below
On arrival in Marrakech you will be met by a Global Morocco Exploration representative who will assist with the short transfer to the hotel in the city of Marrakesh. After settling in you may have the opportunity to do a little exploration. Marrakech is a friendly city and quite easy to get around and most people head for the large central square of the Djemaa-el-Fna beneath the imposing tower of the Koutoubia Mosque. This is the social hub of the Medina or Old City backed by a labyrinthine market known as the ‘souk’. The group leader will give a trip briefing during dinner, overnight in a Riad/hotel in Marrakesh
TIME 3 HRS TREKKING
After breakfast in the hotel you will load your luggage onto the transport and start the journey to the trek start point. After a while, you will be beyond the Marrakech hustle and bustle. The drive is through the pastures of the Moroccan countryside. Stop in the town of Azilal for mint tea, refreshments, and some lunch before making your way down into the Bouguamaz Valley, the valley of happiness, a starkly beautiful region, stopping close to the village of Agouti (1780m). Here you will meet the muleteers, and the rest of the trek crew, the pack animals are loaded, and you begin trekking into the lush farmland towards Arous, following the river as it wanders through poppy scattered fields.
TIME 6 hrs trekking
Rise and have your breakfast and leaving the muleteers to pack up the camp gear. Start a steadily rising traverse towards the col Tizi-m-Oumskiyg (2910m). The river gradually vanishes as you enter the higher mountain scenery of the Central Atlas. A short stop at the col for some mid-morning snacks before continuing up for approximately 4km of steady climb to see the ridge and the viewpoint of Aghouixni Est (3400m). Here you will see spectacular views of M’goun. Later you will descend on good paths towards the high plateau Tilibit N'Tarkeddit overlooking the Tessaout Valley. It is a strikingly green oasis area used frequently by Berber shepherd. High pasture nestles beneath the peaks of the M’Goun massif, and spectacular rock formations surround the area. You will camp near a small mountain hut with good toilet facilities and showers (for a small fee). The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the nomadic Berber ambience.
TIME 8 hrs walking
Today you should be prepared for your journey at pre-dawn as you will gain height steadily. At first you will need headtorch to get to the lower slopes of M’goun. The sunshine ray will appear after 1hrs across the lower slopes of the M’Goun massif. After 4 or 5 hours we gain the stunning ridgeline leading to M’Goun with stunning views. To the south there is the Jebel Sargho region that frames the edge of the Sahara beyond. Southwest, the Toubkal range can be seen at a distance. To the north is the Bouguemez valley and the Draa region. After 1 hour further, you will get to summit of M’Goun itself (4068m) where you can take nice photos. Later, descent by a different route making a traverse of the mountain. Lunch will be by the river where wild camels graze the fertile valley sides.
After lunch continue your journey toward Tiguitine (2700m) where you will camp for the night after 3hours walk. Tiguitine is a very pleasant camp, surrounded by strange rock formations and longwinded streams. In the evening celebrate your successful traverse of the mountain over a delicious dinner.
TIME 7 – 8hrs walking
Have your breakfast and start your day with a leisurely start. Continue following the river course away from the high mountains to the fertile farmland of the Central Atlas foothills. You will lose height gradually after a short ascent to a small col passing through small groves of fig trees and streams. Later you will arrive to Ifni Ait Hamou (2550m) where you can stop at a small café for refreshment. After 4km walking you will reach Tighremt N’Tichki, village passing a large Kasbah. Continue your journey passing rushing waterfalls. Stop for lunch will be by the river. Another leisurely couple of hours along the river leads us to the village of Ameskar El Fougani, where we negotiate the field systems surrounding the village and continue to Ameskar El Tahtani (1990m) 4km further on. We make camp just before the entrance to the Ameskar Gorge.
ACCOMMODATION Gite / Hostel
TIME 7 – 8 hrs walking
Get up early and have breakfast to start your journey towards Small Gorges of M’goun. Leave the camp the valley passing by awesome rock architecture. Eventually the gorge opens and give way to open landscape: riverbanks and smell of fruit trees and growing herbs fills the air. After 4hrs trekking you will reach wonderful spot for lunch by riverside. After 1 hours relaxing, continue your trek to the village of Boutaghar which will last about 2hrs. Tonight accommodation will be in an eco-lodge .This will be your last night with our Berber crew and time to say goodbye.
After breakfast you will take 4-wheel drive transport for the dirt road climb out of the Dades Valley leaving Boutaghar behind and passing along the famous ‘Kasbah route’ through Ouarzazate and on to Marrakech. After about 3/4 hours driving you will stop for lunch at restaurant serving a variety of traditional Moroccan dishes, cooked on open barbecues. After lunch continue your drive to Marrakesh. You will reach Marrakesh after few hours.
The rest of your time is free to explore the souks, shop for souvenirs and soak up the atmosphere of this ancient market town. An evening wandering around the Djemaa El Fna is not to be missed and your final dinner together is often taken in one of the numerous excellent eateries that line the square. Overnight in a hotel/Riad in Marrakesh