MH23 – New Jebel Saghro crossing

Nekob > Skoura • 104km

October 2021 – Honda CRF1000L

The southern sections of MH14 and 15 have offered challenging crossings of the western Saghro mountains for years. This newish route provides an easier way to access the range, following a well-maintained haul route west into the hills and out the other side.
You get all the distinctive drama which make the volcanic ranges of Jebel Saghro so unique, but can manage it in any vehicle, including a pushbike. As with the other two routes, the drama subsides once on the north side of the ranges around KM70 and heading towards Bou Skoura, but in that time, above 1600m you’ll have passed several epic vistas that make it all worthwhile. Thanks to local geologist Saad B for pointing out this route. In 2017 I came up MH15 and to the new haul road at KM34 and wondered where it went to the east. I assumed some mine; now I know it’s all the way down to Nekob.

Away from either end, the only village of substance is Tagmout (KM43), a few smallholdings strung along the oued and overshadowed by the gold/copper excavation just to the north. This new mine must be why the eastbound part of the track got built; it’s not like there are a string of lonesome Berber hamlets up here needing a link to the outside world. The whole of the Saghro massif is especially rich in high-value minerals and cross-crossed with dead-end prospecting tracks.

There’s nothing on paper of course, unless you print it yourself, but you can track it clearly on Google satellite and Apple Maps, as well as free digitals like the particularly good GarminOpenTopo and less clearly on the better-known OSM. There were only a few scraps of trail showing on my v3 Garmin Topo (v4 is current).

Because it is used by mining dump trucks (I saw three just as I left Nekob), at least east of Bou Skour or Tagmout, this track is in great shape and so remains doable with any car or bike. On an Africa Twin I did find the countless switchbacks – ground down to powder by trucks’ scrubbing tyres – needed to be inched around, but that was alone on a heavy bike. A 4×4 will barely break into a sweat.

Route finding
After studying Google satellite I traced a putative kml along what looked like the clearest route, and it all panned out fine with no wrong turns. Westbound, you can’t go wrong up to the blue sign in the Tagmout basin (KM42) and beyond here most forks are right turns passing north of Bou Skour village and mine site (which you don’t see) to the big village of Sidi Flah.
I saw no other traffic bar the three dump trucks rolling into Nekob.

Suggested duration
From three hours non-stop on a bike to half a day in a car.

Route Description
 (104) Nekob west Afriquia fuel. On the other side of the main road, 200m to the west, a side road leads north to villages. Follow it; the tarmac ends in 2km.

6 (98) Track forks, stay left (the red, righthand piste soon joins up anyway). Soon you cross a oued and enter a small palm gorge after which the climb begins.

19 (85) Col at 1420m.

25 (79) Approach some impressive buttes to the southwest (below). More noteworthy vistas follow.

33 (71) Reach the junction where MH14 and 15 come up from the south and which you now follow north for 9km. Soon you pass the 2004-m high point and may have great views of the snowy High Atlas (below), if the season and conditions are right.
You then swing round above the Tagmout basin with a mine on its northern flank and where tracks diverge.

Looking over the Tagmout Basin (March 2017)

42 (62) Blue sign junction just east of Tagmout village, such as it is. Turn left for both Kelaa (as signed; MH14/15) and almost immediately, turn left again up to the Tachbouft Pass (KM45; 1805m) visible to the southwest for the run west to Bou Skour (no sign).
Over the next 20km the track rises and drops over the ranges and several impressive viewpoints (below).

65 (39) Fork right. (Left leads down to Bou Skour village south of the mine). The most dramatic part of the crossing is over as the terrain loses elevation and eases up.

69 (35) Fork right again north of Bou Skour mine. In a kilometre keep right again near some machinery, and soon (around KM70) the main track from the mine (P1514 on Google) joins up from the left (south). You now follow the P1514 north then west.

79 (25) Fork. Keep left on main track.

86 (18) Converge with a minor track coming from your left and where a red sign says ‘Bouskour 18,4km’ (pointing the way you’ve come from).

88 (16) Track joins from your right.

91 (13) Just after a sandy passage alongside a farm fence, you cross a tributary of the nearby Oued Dades and swing north. Soon you pass through the small town of Sidi Flah. In 3km cross a bridge over the Oued Dades.

103 (1). At the pylons keep right to reach the N10 visible up ahead. Once there, turn right for the Inov roadhouse on the eastern outskirts of Skoura. Left is for Skoura town and the N10 to Ouarzazate. Straight across and a leads up to Amzeria (Amerzi; see update Update 3.0.14 – May 2019)

104 Inov roadhouse.

2 thoughts on “MH23 – New Jebel Saghro crossing

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