Exploring the Tichka Plateau and the western fringes of the Atlas, you move well away from established tour-group routes and pass through Berber villages that scarcely ever see a foreigner. You’ll need to carry provisions, and be prepared to camp or possibly stay in a Berber village home if you get the invitation – as you almost certainly will. Sanitation is often poor in the villages and it’s a good idea to bring water purification tablets (see Atlas trekking practicalities). Eating and drinking in mountain village homes, though, is surprisingly safe, as the food (mainly tajines) is thoroughly cooked and the drink is invariably mint tea.

However you approach it, the Tichka Plateau is a delight. Grazing is controlled so the meadows, in spring, are a mass of early daffodils and flowers. Imaradene (3351m) and Amendach (3382m) are the highest summits, west and east, and are superlative viewpoints. The plateau is drained by the Oued Nfis, first through the Tiziatin oak forest, using or bypassing gorges, then undergoing a series of villages, one of which, another Imlil, has a shrine to Ibn Toumert, the founder of the Tin Mal/Almohad dynasty.

Approaching and exploring the plateau

There are approaches to the mountains from both north and south: Imi n’Tanoute, Timesgadiouine and Argana, on the main Marrakesh–Agadir bus route (north and west), and Taroudant–Ouled Berhil (south) or the Tizi n’Test road (east). From the north and west approaches, taxis, or rides on trucks bound for mines or markets at trailheads, could be used; from the south, smaller pick-up trucks (camionettes) ply up daily to Imoulas, the Medlawa Valley and Tigouga. For eastern access by the Oued Nfis, take the piste down from the Tizi n’ Test and follow up the south bank of the river.

If you can afford it, hiring Land Rover transport to take you, and possibly a guide, to meet prearranged mules and a muleteer is the most efficient procedure. El Aouad Ali in Taroudant is the recognized expert on the region and could make all arrangements. Or you could arrange a small group trek through the UK-based trekking company Walks Worldwide (w walksworldwide.com), who organize all levels of treks with El Aouad Ali. The IGN 1:100,000 maps for the area are Tizi n’Test and Igli.

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