I’d like to post this report about my stay in Valley of Ait Bougmez during my second trip to Morocco last April because of 3 reasons: there isn’t much information about the place on the net, I’ve had happy time there and have a few useful data to share. Please read it considering it’s totally based on my personal experience (you may find it uncomplete, partial and probably some mistakes.Those who find it interesting, please check over the information). Extra apologies for my English…
1) The Valley
I wanted to do some trekking in high mountains and first thought of Toubkal. Although I couldn’t have a clear idea of the place, I found it’s a popular destination among tourists and I looked for a less touristic place. I knew April was still early for reaching Mgoun summit (4071 m) without crampons and the valley seemed to be too flat and wide to walk on the mountain by myself but I liked the image of remote village I’d seen. I was also interested in going through R307 to Ouarzazate, imaging that’s a very scenic route (it is!).
It’s the end of the route from Azilal and there isn’t a way out to N10 (Boulmane Dades or Kellaat Mgouna) until they finish the dirt road to Valley of Roses which is now under construction.
There are 27 villages in the Valley, at almost 2000 meters. The center is Tabant (separated into two parts, administrative and residential) and Agouti is another key word for searching the area. Most of the region is dedicated to fruit and vegetables but is also the starting point of long voyages exploring the mountains. It’s called Happy valley or Heaven of Morocco because of its fertility and rich source of water.
Most of local people I have contacted didn’t speak French (neither do I, lol) and according to a nurse I’ve met, they mainly speak berber and are very conservative.
There isn’t any ciber, mobile phone service (including 3G) is unstable, depends on the phone but is available.
2) How to get there
The easiest way is by car, but it would’ve been expensive and not recommendable for solo female traveler like me, taking this route without adequate information.
From Fez, CTM bus goes to Beni Mellal (6:00 AM, 7 hs ride, 110 MAD or 11:00 AM, 10 hs, 120 MAD), then grand taxi to Azilal (around 1:30 hs) and another grand taxi to the valley (2:30 hs, 40 MAD if shared with others arriving by 14:00 to Azilal, otherwise around 250 MAD, VERY winding, often narrow mountain road). A private taxi from Fes to Azilal costs 1300 – 1800 MAD
From Marrakesh, head to Beni Mellal or Demnate and grand taxi after that.
From Ouarzazate area, the route 307 goes from Skoura to Demnate.
To leave the valley towards Ouarzazate, I was told there isn’t any bus going this route, and I could try a grand taxi to and from Demnate but they warned me that local people try to go via Marrakesh because of road condition and lack of services, and it wasn’t sure if the whole trip was possible in one day. I asked at my guite for a private taxi which was easily found, cost 1300 MAD and it was a perfect solution for me.
It took 8 hs from Aguerd NOuzrou to my riad in Ouarzazate. My drivers (Daoud took his friend Mohamed with us in case he needed to rest) and I left at 8:30 AM, arrived at 11:00 at the natural bridge of Demnate (we took dirt road from the valley to Demnate, with 2 passes at 2100 meters), I stayed visiting there while my driver went for gas to the center, them left at noon, stopped for picnic (my driver, very experienced, kind and prudent, offered himself to buy some chicken and salads for lunch due to lack of better options on the way), stopped several times for pictures of the breathtaking scenery and arrived at 16:30 in Ouarzazate.
The route 307 is really scenic, almost all paved in quite acceptable condition, steep, narrow and without guardrail very often, there were 2 or 3 passes at 2100-2300 meters, I didn’t feel the car falling into a big hole maybe because my driver seemed to know every detail on the route, but it was extremely winding!! I’d seen there was one portion with falling rock danger to me, also. If anyone drives this route, I suggest good preparation because there are a few villages on the way (no gas station) but we’d seen only one or two vehicles passing in the whole afternoon.
3) My accommodation and trekking
There are several guites along the valley, all of them offer half or full board and trekking guides. After sending a few emails, I chose Safranière du M'Goun in Aguerd NOzrou because of very kind and fast responses to my several inquiries. They were even so kind to offer me a free transfer from Marrakesh. It costs around 20 Euros half board and 30 Euros full board in a private room. (The only review on Tripadvisor is the one I’d written after my visit there)
The valley is wide, flat, full of orchards and gardens, extremely peaceful and easy to explore along the route. On my first day of trekking, I went up to visit Sidi Moussa (berber granary on the top of a hill, just 30 minutes walking distance from the guite) and walked the route down to Tabant taking pictures and talking to kids (I felt people really don’t like photos, so I tried not to take a picture of them or asked for permission). Some of the locals offered a “coffee at home” as a way of generating income.
For the next day, my guite owner who is experienced mountain guide, found me the way to see the Mgoun and hike over 3000 meters (my 2 desires) without spending a night out of the accommodation (the Mount Mgoun is not visible from the villages and I didn’t want any trekking longer than a day because I’d been sick a few days before). We went on 4x4 up to Ait Imi pass (2900 meters) taking the dirt road towards Valley de Roses under construction (1:30 hs drive)and walked about 5 hs in the area over 3200 meters, with breathtaking views of the valleys on both sides of the pass, mount Mgoun and others mountains. We couldn’t see any fox but we saw and listened to a few birds (and also whatsapp messages coming to my cell phone on the top of the hill…lol). I enjoyed visiting some bergeries in the area, even they were empty because the nomads from the desert were not there yet (they come to feed their animals from May to September), but made me feel that this is a really very special place for their lives.
This one day trekking with 4x4 and guide included cost 50 euros. It is possible to reach Arousse by walking for another 4 or 5 hours but I chose to have plenty of time to enjoy the view and the energy around.
I uploaded the return route of this easy trekking on wikiloc with a few pictures here:
I hope this (sorry!) long report helps to explore a little more of this amazing country, but also desire that visitors contribute with mutually enriching sharing wherever we go.
Good trip (through life).