Updated August 2022
Trans Atlas: MH20
Talat n Yacoub (Ijoukak) > Ouneine basin > Ouaougdimt valley > Aoulouz • 88km
April 2018 – BMW G310GS, Honda XR250 Tornado
April 2019 – Enfield Himalayan
February 2020 – BMW Sertao
October 2021 – Africa Twin (new bypass track)
Another High Atlas crossing to try alongside MH19 (also an online addition to the guidebook). This one only rises to 2200m, steeply climbing some 500m in 8km after leaving the road SE of Ijoukak (right). Initially, you may find the looser parts of this climb a struggle in a 2WD or on a heavy, wide bike. It’s probable that local 2WD vans only do it northbound (downhill) to Ijoukak.
From the pass the incline abates and the track smoothes out as it rolls down towards the villages of the Ouneine basin and the P1735 whose extension eastwards to Igli (Iguidi) on MH6 is now sealed (above).
You carry on SW along the P1735, and at Sidi ali ou Brahim village swing sharp left off the road, cross the stream and follow the Ouaougdimt valley piste 24km SE (not fully shown on most paper maps) to join the MH6 road coming down from Aguim on the N9 Marrakech–Ouarzazate road.
If you’re in a rush or heading towards Taroudant, at Sidi ali ou Brahim carry on 23km south on the ever-bendy P1735 to Sidi Ouaziz on the N10. Otherwise, it would be a shame to miss out on the scenic Ouaougdimt valley stage, as it rises onto a terrace high above the valley floor.
Parts of the route are just about legible on paper maps, least badly on the inset ‘High Atlas’ panel on the Michelin. But none show the full Ouaougdimt valley route. It’s all on Google and the OSM/Garmin digitals.
The climb up to the 2200-m Tizi n Oulaoune pass from KM11 starts a little steep and loose and about as hard as it gets, but we saw local 125s two-up and minivans, albeit heading the other way (ie: descending). From the pass, the gradient eases off while you’ll find the Ouaougdimt valley stage no harder than anything you’ve just done. Carefully ridden, a big bike could manage the loose hairpins; so could a 2WD with clearance, though as always these mountain tracks require concentration. On an MTB it will be a slog if not a push up to the Tizi n Oulaoune, followed by your freewheeling reward and no more steep grades.
Easy enough. We winged it just by studying Google satellite imagery beforehand, jotting down some distances between junctions. That’s now all listed below. Download the MH20kml file.
Half a day will do you.
0km (88) Talat n Yacoub fuel station on the R203 Tizi n Test road. Head north to Ijoukak.
3 (85) Pass through Ijoukak, cross the bridge and turn right up the side road. Soon you’ll pass a nice-looking auberge.
11 (77) At the fork before a village turn right, drop down over a bridge and carry on. Soon there’s a sign right: ‘Ouadouz/Ouneine? 24km’ (it’s something with ‘O’). The 500m climb to the pass begins.
19 (69) Tizi n Oulaoune 2200-m high point. The track now eases off as it descends. (Photo, bottom of the page.)
23 (65) Fork with sign (photo below: ‘Map Junction’). East at this fork is a rough track which in 9km joins the new road to Igli as mentioned above (MH21). Keep right (south) to continue descending to the villages in the Ouneine basin visible to the west. Eventually, at a junction around KM35 you join the new extension of the P1735 which goes E towards Igli over a 2500-m terrace. This is a spectacular road (left).
Meanwhile, the P1735 crosses the Ouneine basin SW and threads through a small pass back into the hills.
54 (34) Sidi ali ou Brahim. The tarmac carries on 22km to Sidi Ouaziz (fuel) on the N10 but you turn sharp left, drop down to the stream and up the other side. The track is initially a bit eroded and loose as it climbs to the first village, but that’s why they invented suspension. It then eases off as it rises above the valley on a terrace (right) with great views down to the villages below. You could be in the Cevennes or the Pyrenees, but you’re in the High Atlas. It could be worse.
78 (10) Join the tarmac (MH6) by the reservoir.
83 (5) Roundabout on the N10.
88 Aoulouz fuel station/s.
Trans Atlas: MH21*
(* Easily confused with route ‘MH21 Cirque de Jaffar’ in the book, which would be better called MH2.1)
Ijoukak > Igli > Askaoun > Taliouine • 170km
April 2019; Enfield Himalayan
Updated October 2021; Honda Africa Twin
At the old ‘Afra’ sign at KM23, a rough but Transit-able track runs east 9km to join the Igli road; see map right. The new road soon rises to over 2550m or 8300 feet and is now all sealed and descends spectacularly down to Igli on MH6. From here carry on southwest.
Above the Moktar Soussi reservoir, in October 2021 I tried to follow the 5-km short cut as shown on Google (above right in blue and below in red) over the Asif Tifnoute, but I’m pretty sure it does not exist. I did manage to get close enough to scramble up to the track on the south bank of the Asif.
Like many reservoirs hereabouts, the level has been low for years, way below what some maps show. I reached a promising new wide track alongside the reservoir’s northeastern shore (yellow, above) and which led to the sandy Asif Tifnoute alongside some parked-up diggers.
One formed track crossed the riverbed’s former mouth but was blocked by a mound of pushed-up dirt just above the sandy south bank. Scooters had squeezed past then crossed fields on the now exposed lakebed; the Google track (red above) was very close but out of sight up the hillside. If you can get up that sandy bank and over the fields, the green dots will probably link up to the village and the ford for the road up to Askaoun. But it was late and hot and I didn’t want to risk getting bogged on my heavy AT.
Other tracks got close to where the southside track was visible; a 50-m scramble on foot up a couple of banks (above). But once on the track it was clear it was only used by mopeds and donkeys. That meant it was unlikely there’s any regularly used crossing of the Oued Tifnoute further upstream, so I left it at that.
So carry on along the tarmac route shown in blue above, cross the river below the dam wall and head up to Askaoun (KM120) then down to Taliouine.
Total 170KM, fuel to fuel.
We did this in February 2020 twice with a lunch in Igli. A great ride with a dizzying number of bends in one day.
MH212 Bypass • 12km
October 2021 • Honda Africa Twin
At the ‘Ouadouz/Ouneine’ turn-off (MH20KM11.5), carry on southeast along the tarmac for a few km until it ends at a village (green mark on map below). Keep going along an easy piste up the valley and past a couple more villages, as it climbs to meet the end of the MH21 link track close to the Ouneine-Igli tarmac.
At the tarmac it’s right and mostly down to Ouneine, or up to over 2550m then down to Igli on the Aquim-Aoulouz road.
This new track cuts 20km off the 170km fuel-to-fuel distance of MH21 and is much easier than the steep climb up to Tizi n Oulaoune; anything can manage it.