The road over the Tizi-n-Test pass is one of the most beautiful in Morocco
– What in the world was that? Per has spotted something; a dark creature crossed the road at full speed. – It looked like a wild boar, said Per. Our eminent driver Mohamed confirms that there actually is wild boars in this area. We drove from Taroudant this morning and are on our way to Marrakech. The road goes from Souss valley and up through the High Atlas and we are approaching the Tizi-n-Test pass at 2093 meters altitude.
View is indescribable and very dramatic. On one side of the car it goes straight down many hundred meters. Ahead looms snowy mountains and the narrow road meanders upward and upward. Suddenly they are there again. This time two wild boars are crossing the road, We are all so lucky that we get to se the animals climbing up the hillside and disappearing in the bush.
This road through the heart of High Atlas was made by the French already in the period of 1926 to 1932. This journey through the mountains was earlier considered dangerous and unpractical. To day the road is under repair and we had to stop for excavators many times and wait for them to make space for us to pass. But much of the work is still made the traditional way, by handcraft. Laboriously stone by stone is built to form beautiful walls to support the road on the mountainside. It may look like an infinite project, but in a few years the road will probably be much better and less exciting. Sad though, it provides a special excitement when you don’t know if it will be space enough for two cars to pass when they meet on the narrow mountain road. Extra excitement for the young boys, they are five of them on top of the already fully loaded load plan of the vehicle.
You can stop and enjoy the view many places and also get refreshments. On a distance of only 30 kilometers it rises 1600 meters up. After the Tizi-n-Test pass it goes straight back down. You drive for half an hour and have nearly moved forward at all. We are driving down to the fertile Nfiss Valley.
Well down in the valley, we stop at a small restaurant by the road, Dar Almojadines. It was time for lunch. We were followed down a stair and down another stair and along a beautiful patio. At the very bottom of the garden along the river Nfiss, we were served the most delicious chicken in orange sauce I have ever had. It was a fabulous meal very unexpected!
Along the road, about 100 km south of Marrakech is Tin Mal the forgotten Mosque. The Mosque is the oldest in Morocco and is on of two open to non-Muslims. The other one is the big Mosque in Casablanca. Tin Mal Mosque was built in 1156 in memory of the founder of the Almohad Dynasty, Mohamed Ibn Tumart. The Mosque was put on UNESCOS world Heritage list in 1995.
A bit closer to Marrakech we are driving through a lush and hilly landscape with beautiful pine trees. A stream is flowing along the road and through thousands of years it has made exiting formations in the landscape. We are in Toubkal National Park established in 1942. The park covers an area of nearly 400 km2. The highest mountaintop is Ibel Toubkal at 4167 meters altitude. Toubkal National Park has old stone carvings and the most famous is called; Sun as a divinity. If you have time, do some tracking in this area. The village Imlil is the most normal common place to start walking.
Morocco is so much more than Marrakech and the Medina. Take the time to discover more of the country. Many companies arrange day trips out of Marrakech and if you add one overnight or two, you will get an experience for life!