Tag Archives: Ijoukak

Sahara Silhouettes 3

More Sahara silhouettes here and here.

Morocco Overland: Route MH20 + MH21* + MH212 bypass

Updated January 2023

Trans Atlas: MH20

Talat n Yacoub (Ijoukak) > Ouneine basin > Ouaougdimt valley > Aoulouz • 88km
First run April 2018 – BMW G310GS, Honda XR250 Tornado
Last run November 2022 – KTM890R

a310-7

Description
High Atlas crossing parallel to the nearby Tizi n Test which peaks 2200m, steeply climbing some 500m in 8km after leaving the road SE of Ijoukak (right). You may find the looser parts of this climb a struggle in a 2WD or on a heavy, wide bike, but this was not the case on 2022 in a 4×4. It’s probable that local 2WD vans only do it downhill (northbound) to Ijoukak.
In 2022 the track was rougher as it rolled down to the Ouneine basin and the P1735 whose extension eastwards to Igli on (MH21) is now sealed. Keep right at the fork with an illegible sign. At the bottom just before the road joins the road you have to detour around the boundary fence of a new small mine,

Once in the basin 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.
Or, 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 (fuel) 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.

mhh20

Mapping
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.

Off-Road
The climb up to the 2200-m Tizi n Oulaoune pass from KM11 starts a steeply but lately has been graded. From the pass the gradient eases off with great views doiwn to the basin 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 a rough freewheeling reward to the basin and no more huge grades thereafter. Bikes might have more fun following MH21 to the high P1735 road, turning left or right.

Route finding
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.

Suggested duration
Half a day will do you.

Route Description
0km
 (88) Talat n Yacoub fuel station on the R203 Tizi n Test road. Head north to Ijoukak village.

3 (85) Pass through Ijoukak, cross the bridge and turn right up the side road. Soon you’ll pass Houssain’s agreeable mountain lodge.

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. (Ahead, MH21 continues).

19 (69) Tizi n Oulaoune 2200-m high point with views of Toubkal (4167m) 20km to the northeast. The track now eases off as it descends.

mh20km23
KM23 Map Junction
feb20 - 36

23 (65) Fork with sign (photo above: ‘Map Junction’). East at this fork is a rough track (MH212) which in 9km joins MH21 to Igli (MH21). Keep right (south) to continue descending to the Ouneine basin visible to the west. At a new small mine work your way round the fence to the south. to rejoin the track. Eventually, at a junction around KM35 you join the P1735 road which goes E towards Igli over a 2500-m terrace. This is a spectacular road (MH21).
Meanwhile, the P1735 crosses the Ouneine basin SW and threads through a small pass back into the hills.

mh20ouaval

54 (34) Sidi ali ou Brahim. The tarmac carries on 22km to Sidi Ouaziz (fuel) on the N10 but you turn sharp left here, 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. Turn right (west).

83 (5) Roundabout on the N10.

88 Aoulouz fuel station/s.

mh20desc

Trans Atlas: MH21*

* Easily confused with route ‘MH21 Cirque de Jaffar’ in the book, which henceforth will be called MH2.2

Ijoukak > Igli > Askaoun > Taliouine • 170km
Last run: November 2022; KTM 890R

At the ‘Ouadouz/Ouneine’ turn-off (MH20KM11.5) for the steep track up to Tizi n Oulaoune, carry on southeast on tarmac for a few km until it ends at a village (green mark on map abobe). Keep going along an easy piste rising up the valley and past a couple more villages. Just before one village keep right (downwards); sharp back left leads up to who knows where. Your route climbs to meet the end of the MH212 link track close to the Ouneine-Igli tarmac.
Turn left then at the tarmac nearby it’s left up to over 2550m then a long wind down to Igli (hotel/cafe) on the Aquim-Aoulouz road MH6.
From here carry on south then west down the valley and turn left at a sign to cross below the dam wall (roadworks in 2022) and wins your way up to up to Askaoun (KM120) then down to Taliouine.
Total 170KM, fuel to fuel.
I did versions of this route three times in November 2022 with a lunch in Igli. A great ride with a dizzying number of bends in one day.

A few photos   A few more

MH212 link track • 9km

November 2022 • KTM890R
At the old ‘Afra’ sign at KM23, a rough but Transit-able track runs east 9km to join the Igli road; see map right.

At the old ‘Afra’ sign at MH20KM23, a rough but just about Transit-able track runs east 9km to join MH21; see map above. Go this way if you want to do MH21 with the tougher steep climb of MH20.

Looking down on the new bypass from the high route