M'goun Massif

  • Au pied du M"Goun - © Emmanuel Bayle flickr user
  • M"Goun Traverse Trek, Morocco  - © ryan kilpatrick flickr user
  • M"Goun Massif - © dreamx flickr user
  • Morocco - M"Goun - © Martin and Kathy Dady flickr user
  • Near the M"Goun National Park - © dreamx flickr user
  • Vue d"ensemble du massif du M"Goun - © Emmanuel Bayle flickr user
  • M"Goun Traverse Trek, Morocco - ©  ryan kilpatrick flickr user
  • © melaniejbirch flickr user
  • M"Goun Traverse Trek, Morocco - ©  ryan kilpatrick flickr user
  • M"Goun Traverse Trek, Morocco - ©  ryan kilpatrick flickr user
  • M"Goun Traverse Trek, Morocco  - © ryan kilpatrick flickr user
  • M"Goun Traverse Trek, Morocco  - © ryan kilpatrick flickr user
  • Tabant, Ait bou Goumez Valley  - © sturky flickr user
  • Tabant, Ait bou Goumez Valley  - © sturky flickr user
  • Tabant, Ait bou Goumez Valley - ©  sturky flickr user
  • Tarkeddit valley - ©  turquoise spectral airship flickr user
  • view on the Atlas mountains   - © Lucsaflex flickr user

Key information: M'goun Massif

    • The M'Goun Massif is walking a gem.
      • Think deep, colourful and dramatic gorges separating high and thrilling ridges and escarpments. Here you can trek through violently-cut gorges (some requiring wading), barren slopes of scree and forested valleys and visit remarkably unspoilt Berber villages.
        • There is a huge selection of walking, from tough multi-dayers to day-explorations.
          • This can be tough walking in high, remote mountains, on which you will have to be self-sufficient and where altitude can cause discomfort. Come prepared.
          • ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating85
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest15
  • Human interest8
  • Charisma30
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating85

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: 4,071m
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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Vue d'ensemble du massif du M'Goun - © Emmanuel Bayle flickr user

WALK SUMMARY

The M'Goun massif, at the heart of the High Atlas, is remoter and lesser known than the Toubkal area, but a gem nonetheless and the great range's second most popular trekking area. Its high point, Jebel M'Goun (4,071m) (? - there is inconsistency here!), is the second-highest peak in north Africa, and one of Morocco's' sacred peaks. Very different in nature from the Toubkal area, M'Goun is largely eroded sandstone and limestone: think deep, colourful and dramatic gorges separating high and thrilling ridges and escarpments. It is a touch less harsh than other Atlas areas, with a bit more vegetation and more prosperous valleys.

Here you can trek through violently-cut gorges (some requiring wading and said to be only 3m wide in places), barren slopes of scree and forested valleys and visit fascinatingly unspoilt Berber villages - not surprising given many still have no road access, but still somehow remarkable so near Europe. The region gives an extraordinary look at a characterful if hard way of life, which has changed little in hundreds of years. They are thought to be the indigenous inhabitants of the area, and have always been fiercely independent, living in fortified mud-brick villages (look out for tower-houses) in irrigated valleys. Some still practice transhumance, moving with their flocks to high pastures in summer.

The landscape can be orientated around a main ridge which includes the highest peaks. The accessible A?t Bou Goumez valley to the north is the main trek-head, with Tabant the main trekking town. Its fertile, even luxuriant bottom, surrounded by dry, dramatic mountains, supports a rich Berber culture, making it a good place to prepare for or recover from your trek. You can also start walking from roadheads to the south.

There is a huge selection of walking (some would argue better than the Jebel Toubkal area), from tough multi-dayers to day-explorations.

  • The various versions of the multi-day circuit south of Tabant, taking in the high M'Goun ridge, are well used, with good cause. The mix of the drama of high peaks, ridges and passes with deep and pleasing valleys nestling traditional Berber settlements, taking in gorges, the Tarkeddid or Tessaout Plateaux and some outlandish landscape, is inspiring. It takes a couple of days, ascending through classic Berber cultivated valleys and crossings a high pass or two, to get to a camp below the central M'Goun ridge. On day 3 you can climb M'Goun's peak itself, a long and tiring day, but a proper trekkers' peak (with some exposed sections). A dramatic day. The long day on the high M'Goun ridge, winding below the key peaks, has to be one of Morocco's great walks. Subsequent days take in huge canyons, remote valleys and other delights. 
  • Various forms of Traverse across the range, for instance the six-dayer from Tabant to A?t Tanlil, taking in valleys and Berber villages including Megdaz, claimed to be the most attractive in the M'goun, as well as high country, with big views. Another version is Tabant to El-Kela? M'Gouna, a 6 day route south-east from Tabant. Includes paddling in narrow gorges, so check conditions before you start. There are places to stay (g?tes), so you can travel lighter.
  • From historic Telouet to the south-east, and Anmiter further into the mountains, you can walk to the Tamda Lakes, or on a multi-day circuit to the fascinating, remote Tessaout Valley. 
  • There is interesting day walking to be done around the extremely pleasent A?t Bou Goumez valley to the north, for a good taste of traditional Berber life. For instance the 3 hour village circuit, the Trailblazer guide has christened the Randonnée du Thé.

www.tourdust.com organise an expedition here : we have travelled with Tourdust, and were delighted. They were very nice and flexible to deal with, and evidently cared about quality, as their walk was meticulously prepared and our support team were outstanding in every way. We are proud to be their partners.

This page is at an early stage of development. Please help us by recommending your best walks and making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist.

Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Books and Maps

Suggest books and maps

Books on this walk     

Trekking in the Moroccan Atlas – Trailblazer: good general information about Morocco and Marrakech as well.

Moroccan Atlas – Alan Palmer - The Trekking Guide

M’goun Traverse trek – Lonely Planet

 

Other books

The Rough Guide to Morocco – Mark Ellingham, Shaun McVeigh, Don Grisbrook

Morocco (Lonely Planet Country Guides) – Heidi Edsall, Paula Hardy, Mara Vorhees

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Morocco – Louise Lang

Morocco – Paul Bowles

Explore Marrakech: The best routes around the city- Insight Guides

CultureShock: Morocco – Orin Hargraves

Morocco Travel Guide: Attractions, Eating, Drinking, Shopping + places to stay – Jennifer Simmons

Morocco- Insight Guides

 

Maps 

Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. A good online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks). Also try www.mapsworldwide.com and www.trektools.com.

www.mapsoftheworld.com

www.maps.nationalgeographic.com

www.worldatlas.com

 

Best times to walk/weather

Best times to walk

May/June, September and October (fewer people but less predictable weather). High summer is too hot in the valleys; but the most reliable weather in the high mountains – and the most popular time. The long winter is snowbound.

Weather

Generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather and cold nights.

For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides.

 

Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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Most people would fly in to Marrakech (the nearest international airport) or elsewhere.

Car or bus to road heads. E.g. buses from Marrakech or Beni Mallal to Azilal and then on (on poor roads) to Tabant [LP - check]

Skyscanner is an excellent (relatively new) site for finding the flights you need; otherwise try Lastminute.com, or look at what’s available on Tripadvisor.

Those on organised expeditions will be transported from/to arranged start/departure points.

No permits are needed to do this walk. 

Route(s)

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See Walk Summary above.        

Possible problems, health, other warnings

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  • Altitude: likely to affect you up high. Acclimatize appropriately if going high, come prepared to cope.
  • Mountain weather: snow, rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year and the weather can change rapidly. Come prepared.
  • Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
  • Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
  • Harmful animals including snakes, stinging/biting insects and plants. Take all appropriate precautions.
  • This can be remote country: food and other supplies/food and other supplies will not be readily available and help may be hard to get if things go wrong.
  • Health risks: this is a relatively undeveloped country, and you will not get prompt medical help of a standard available elsewhere if you become ill. Come prepared, including getting all appropriate inoculations/medications.
  • Be sensitive about photographing people:  don’t without permission.

 

See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.

 

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, and does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

 

Make sure you have appropriate insurance.

 

 

Guided or independent?

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Independent

You can do both day and longer walks independently, but you will need to be self-sufficient, so come fully prepared.

 

Guided/supported

Most people form or join organised/supported expeditions if making long treks. Given the remoteness of the country and difficulty of getting supplies, many will prefer to do it this way, and travelling here with a knowledgeable guide has real advantages (even on day walks). Choosing a suitable guide or company is of course vital, and the guidebooks contain good advice in this regard.

Guides can be hired locally, Azilal and Tabant in the Aït Bou Gournez valley being good places to find them. If hiring a guide locally, meet him/her and get comfortable before committing. Make sure all requirements are understood and agreed – including how you will eat and the importance of avoiding illness, as well as overnighting and, of course, remuneration!

Expedition organisers include:

 

PLEASE HELP Walkopedia by recommending any reputable tour organizers that you know of – local or otherwise.

 

Accommodation

You can base yourselves in towns such as Tabant in the delightful Aït Bou Goumez valley, which has a lot of accommodation, from hotels to gîtes d’étape.   

 

Once trekking, you may be camping or staying in gîtes, depending on your route.

 

The guidebooks have a selection of possible accommodation. There are various relevant accommodation websites. See www.visitmorocco.com

 

Hostelbookers usually has a good selection of cheaper-end accommodation.

 

See what the commentary on Tripadvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as they can be “interested”,

 

A good range of hotels and other accommodation can be found on the unimaginatively named but effective Hotels.com.

 

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Other information and tips

Tipping is expected, so come mentally prepared and with enough cash. Check guidebooks for current rates. Do err on the side of generosity if unsure – it will make a big difference to them. Gratitude is seldom shown at tipping time, so don’t be disappointed if generosity isn’t visibly rewarded!

 

Do be careful, considerate and respectful in all dealings with the locals.

 

This is a conservative area, so dress modestly- both men and women need to cover up flesh, when in inhabited areas.

 

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Useful websites and information

There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.

 

{C}{C}{C}{C}·         {C}{C}{C}http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Atlas 

{C}{C}{C}{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Try www.flickr.com for pictures of this walk.

{C}{C}{C}{C}·         {C}{C}{C}http://www.toubkalguide.com/faqs_trekking.htm

{C}{C}{C}{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Morocco - Like a Local - http://www.morocco-like-a-local.com/morocco-travel/adventure-tours-morocco/mgoun-trekking.html

{C}{C}{C}{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Epic Morocco - http://www.epicmorocco.co.uk/tour/mgoun-circuit/

{C}{C}{C}{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Morocco Trekking - http://www.trekmorocco.com/

{C}{C}{C}{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Trekking Central High Atlas – http://www.atlastrekshop.com/5-day-mgoun-traverse.html

{C}{C}{C}{C}·         {C}{C}{C}www.visitmorocco.com, good for accommodation in particular.

 

 

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Other things to do in the area

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Other walks

Morocco has a huge variety of great walks.

Other activities

Endless. Lounge in old Marrakech or Fez. Seaside. Desert exploration. Roman and other ruins abound.

Cascades d’Ouzoud, dramatic waterfall in deep gorge 35km from Azilal. 

Shopping, if you must

We are not a shopping website. But, there are beautiful and interesting things to be found, and anything bought from local people must be of some help to this poor country. So, wallets out! (And don’t try to extract the very last cent when bargaining…)

 

 

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

view on the Atlas mountains   - © Lucsaflex flickr user

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Tarkeddit valley - ©  turquoise spectral airship flickr user...
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