After a long time we came back to the valley of Tafraout in April 2019.
Monday, 1st April –
On the way to Zagora:
After having a very nice lunch together with Hafid’s family in Zagora, we loaded all the equipment onto Lahrbi’s vehicle and made our way into the valley. Already at the entrance to the valley shortly after Tagounite we could see that much has changed. Overall, it was more green than last time. To the right and left of the piste there were a lot of melon fields (exclusively). A large number of water basins have been created for irrigation, almost all of which have been filled. The pools and fields have fundamentally changed the appearance of the valley. The bumpy cart path with many stones has now been converted into a usable piste and there were still many construction vehicles on the way. This has obviously also increased traffic and in general you saw more people in the landscape. Power supply along the entire valley. The better infrastructure was apparent.
When we arrived in the village we were greeted by many friends from before and in the evening the village hosted a dinner for us in the old school. After a long time of preparation, we ate all together late in the evening in a room where later on they were singing and playing music.
Tuesday, 2nd April –
After our car is hosted by a friend near the school and the three camels are loaded, we march west out of the valley. The weather has improved, but still everywhere puddles of the rain of the last few days. After leaving the village, we head out into the barren landscape of the Hamada, a rocky desert landscape with little vegetation. South, the low mountains of the Djebel Bani and on the right a slightly lower hilly landscape accompanies us. Said this time is our guide and Lahcen accompanies us as our cook. Then the area becomes more and more lonely and hardly any more bushes, many stones and little sand. We enjoy the silence and vastness of the landscape. Quiet walking with the camels. The weather is not too hot but increasingly windy. In a beautiful palm grove with fountain make lunch rest. While we drink tea, Lahcen prepares the meal. Then long siesta to escape around the midday heat.
In the afternoon the path becomes more difficult and rises slightly. Then we descend into the valley and visit the ruins of an abandoned village. We cross that to the southern edge and open our night camp there. The square is located on a small platform from where we can see large parts of the valley. As the valley opens to the west, we can watch a beautiful sunset in the evening. Again very late dinner and we fall asleep tired in our tent. It rains at times in the second half of the night.
Wednesday, 3rd April –
After a short march to the east we turn into a gorge to the south to cross the mountains. It offers us a beautiful valley with varied mountain scenery and beautiful lakes in between. Since the valley is reasonably wide but low, it is getting hotter and hotter. But above all the wind is getting stronger and lunch quite exposed at the intersection of two valleys becomes a sandy affair. For a long time, a herd of goats stays in the camp and can hardly be expelled until it moves on again.
In the afternoon, the valley continues to the south and we follow the river course (usually dried out) to a nomad village. The wind is already strong and cool and we have brought out our wind breakers. At the nomads we are welcomed with tea and we stay overnight near the village. At dusk we still visit the fountain of the inhabitants, which is now under a lake due to the increased water level. The nomads tell us they will build the well at another higher spot. Dinner was taken in high winds and then we lay down to sleep.
Thursday, 4th April –
The valley now opens to the south and we look out into the sandy Sahara. The landscape conveys real desert character with an infinite expanse and hardly any vegetation left. The temperature rises, but the wind gets even stronger and is reasonably cool. Therefore, we cannot really perceive the silence. But we are once again impressed by the unique landscape of the Hamada, which is slowly passing into a sandy desert. We march on an endless flat surface and approach the dunes. There is no longer a way to recognize and we trust our guide, who leads us further and further south-east out into the Sahara. Upon arrival at the dunes, we have an overwhelming sight, as we are already at dusk and the sun illuminates the dunes at a flat angle. A true play of colours from yellow to orange to red.
We set up the night camp in a lonely place in the middle of the dunes and spend a dream night under the stars of the Sahara.
Friday, 5th April –
In the early morning we load our luggage and equipment back in the jeep of Lahrbi, who has already spent the night with us. Once again, there is the opportunity to experience a beautiful sunrise in the dunes at dawn. The sight of the dunes in the first light of the sun offers a soft sign of all forms of dunes and now that the wind has subsided also the impressive silence of a morning in the desert.
We find it difficult to detach ourselves and drive out of the dunes and out onto the Hamada onto the piste leading towards Foum Zguid.
However, our drive leads north-east – – to the foot of the Djebel Bani after a short breakdown, traversing in a narrow drive-through to get back into the valley of Tafraout. In the village we say goodbye to our companions, to whom we once again owe wonderful days in the region.
With your own jeep we go towards M ‘Hamid. We orient half by Navigation device, half by feeling up to the N9, which we do not reach, because a dune necklace blocks our way. The only way was to drive the entire way through the desert back to the starting point in the Tafraout valley. We did not reach the goal M ‘Hamid but travelled an exciting desert trip of a total of 80km, which was exhausting but very interesting.
In the late afternoon we arrive again with the family Hafid and Ali in Zagora. We would like to thank our friends and say goodbye after a few days, where we were able to meet again the wonderful people of the village and spend many hours in a beautiful landscape. The memories of those beautiful days will sooner or later take us back there.
We thank Said for the kind and attentive guidance and accompaniment, Lahcen for his tasty meals and very warmly our friends Hafid and Ali for the composition and organization of the trip.