Morocco // The Mediterranean coast and the Rif //

The Cirque du Jebel Tazzeka

A loop of some 123km around Taza, the Cirque du Jebel Tazzeka is a scenic, serpentine circuit through forests of cork, oak and cedar, with sweeping vistas over both the Rif and Middle Atlas ranges. Along the way is the immense Gouffre du Friouato (Friouato Caves) and the whole route is fertile ground for birdwatching and other wildlife (see Wildlife in the Jebel Tazzeka). If you don’t have transport, grand taxi circuits can be arranged from most accommodation in Taza, starting at 250dh for the day.

Heading in an east–west direction from Taza, the road starts out curling around below the Medina before climbing to a narrow valley of almond and cherry orchards. Twelve kilometres out of Taza, the Café Ras el Ma is worth a pit stop for the aerial views of the village afforded by its shaded terrace. Beyond here, the road, prone to rock avalanches but generally in good condition, loops towards the first pass (at 1198m), passing some great picnic spots and eventually emerging onto the Chiker Plateau. Here, in exceptionally wet years, the Dayat Chiker appears as a broad, shallow lake. More often than not, though, it is just a fertile saucer, planted with cereals; geographers will recognize its formation as a classic limestone polje.

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