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across the Jbel Sahro - practicalities


This is perhaps the most committing walk on this site. There are people living in the Jbel Sahro, but only in very small villages or semi-nomadically; there are no medical facilities or other infrastructure. If anything had gone wrong, we would have been dependant on our or our guide's mobiles still having battery power (they both ran out around day 3), and perhaps our muletier's mule.

1. Walking days
We asked for a trek of 5 days, though it actually took 4½. Length roughly 60 miles. We allowed two days to get to Nkob from Marrakech - one for the bus journey, one to check that the trek was arranged. And an extra day at the end in case of delays.

We did the trek over Christmas 2011; our guide commented that his favourite time of year is March and April, when the days are not too hot, the nights not too cold, and the flowers are out.

2. Getting there and away
From UK: Fly Easyjet to Marrakech.
Bus from the Airport to the main square, Djemaa al-Fna, is No 19; ticket 30dh. Every half hour, or maybe every hour, depending on who you talk to. Information in Morocco - including that in the guide books and maps, and the spelling of places - is always debatable! Taxis may offer you an equal deal.

We stayed at the Riad Dar Al Hamra, 4 Derb Zaouia (just west of the Mosquee Bab Doukkala). Rate variable! We picked this because it was conveniently situated 10 minutes north of the Square and 5 minutes from the Gare Routière.

The journey from Marrakech to Nkob is a project in itself. Here's what we did:
7am CTM bus from the Gare Routière (it then went to the the Train Station) to Ouarzazate: 5hrs. Ticket 80dh (£5.88), + 5dh for luggage in the hold.
Then a Grand Taxi (long distance) to Tabounte (about 5K south of the main town, and on the road to Nkob - see map), 50dh. Then we found a driver who said he would take us all the way if we paid for all 6 seats: 300dh (£22). It would be possible to get a Bus to Agdz or Tansikht, and then get your Hotel to send a taxi for you.

Getting away: CTM Bus from near the Atlas Cafe in Boumalne to Marrakech (it comes from somewhere else, and arrives between 9 and 10 am. The Atlas cafe or the Hotel Tamazirte opposite can reassure you). 6½ hours. 105dh (£7.72). Fly to UK.

If you have any spare time in Marrakech, the place I most recommend seeing is the Maison Tiskiwin (also known as Bert Flint's house), a fabulous museum of Berber culture.

3. Book & Map
Moroccan Atlas - The Trekking Guide by Alan Palmer (Trailblazer); includes many ideas and maps, and was the inspiration for this trek. His suggestion across the Jbel Sahro was 4 days to Tagdilt, but he recommended (rightly) taking a guide, and ours went the pretty way, and took slightly longer.
Map: EWP-WCP; Morocco Sarhro Central. Not strictly necessary, but it was nice to leave it with the hotel (it's not available in Morocco).

4. The route: Prices quoted are of December 2011, for a double room/demi-pension.
Arrival: We stayed at the Kasbah Ennakhil in Nkob; 500dh (£36.74). The trek was arranged by Hosseine Benaamer, the 'agent' at the Kasbah. He booked our guide (Yidir BenalAwed) and our muletier/cuisinier (Hemad Okhazayed). The inclusive fee of 4,700dh (£345.33) covered their work, the mule, all the food, tents, mattresses, sleeping bags, blankets.

Day 1: Nkob to Tifdassine (near Tiguiza). 1039-1234m. Morning: 2½; afternoon 2½ hours walk. About 27K.
Day 2: Tifdassine to Irhissi. 1234-1625m. Morning 3½; afternoon 2 hours walk. About 20K.
Day 3: Irhissi to Igli. 1625-2256m. Morning 4; afternoon over 2 hours walk. About 24K.
Day 4: Igli to Imi Nwareg. 2256-2270m. Morning 3; afternoon under 2 hours walk. About 18K.
Day 5: Imi Nwareg to Tagdilt. 2270-1670m. Morning 3¼ hours walk. about 14K. Van to Boumalne (it would have been a boring walk).

I have listed general heights, as I didn't have the exact details of all our ups and downs. There were a lot of ascents on day 2 am, day 3 am and pm, and day 4 pm.

Overnight stay: Hotel Al Manader, Boumalne du Dades. No website, but phone is 0524-83 01 72, email aubergealmanader@hotmail.com. We didn't book. 500dh (£36.74)