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Tazzeka Mountains

Tazzeka Mountains

1. The deepest cave Friouato

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Waterfalls, canyons and forests

Tamelelt, Morocco

Tamelelt, Morocco

The cascades at Ras el-Oued.

The Tazzeka Mountains, or Djebel or Jbel Tazzeka or whatever transliteration is chosen from Arabic, has been deemed worthy to rank as a national park. It is noted for its wildlife, forests, waterfalls and canyons. Really a treat, and easily explored with car in a day or less. The whole stretch is 70 km, between Taza and Sidi-Abdallah-Rhiata, both on the N6 main road. That would allow one night in Fez (90 km from Sidi-Abdallah-Rhiata) and another in Taza. A tour up to Tazzaka Mountain, adds about 20 km to this.
Trees in its forest are mainly oak, at points with variations of pink-flowered cistus and bracken.
From May, the area is rich with butterflies, like knapweed, ark green fritillaries and Berber skippers.
Bird life is also interesting with multi-coloured hoppoe, wood pigeon, nuthatch, short-toed treecreeper, titmice of various sorts, rollers and shrikes.
Beginning at Taza, after 10 km you arrive at Ras el-Oued with its cascades. The area is now far from as nice as nature has provided, with concrete pipes all over.
A few km further, comes the first mountain pass at 1198 metres, which is about 700 metre above Taza. Below lies the Dayat Chiker lake, which sometimes appear with water, otherwise as a cereals field.
4 km further on, is the cave of Gouffre du Friouato, which for many is the main reason to go here in the first place.
Off the road comes another cave, at Ain Bechar, where there also is accommodation, basic, but cheap and charming.
9 km from Gouffre du Friouato is the village of Bab-Bou-Idir, which is a popular local destination in summer, having a campground and cafe.
After passing the highest pass on the trip, at 1540 metres, comes the possible turn the leads up to the Tazzeka Mountain itself, at 1980 metres. The road is almost impassible, but views make the slow speed the best solution anyway. The top of the mountain has a cedar forest and great views as far as to Fez, 100 km west.
Continuing onwards to Sidi-Abdallah-Rhiata, you pass through pleasant oak forests and the gorge of Oued Zireg.

By Tore Kjeilen