The Ait Bougmez
The High Atlas valley of Aït Bougmez remains one of Morocco’s best-kept secrets.
Tucked away amongst the high ridges of the Central Atlas of Morocco, the stunningly beautiful Ait Bougmez Valley has managed to preserve a traditional way of life that closely follows the seasons and is based on agriculture and the herding of livestock.
Tucked away amongst the high ridges of the Central Atlas Montains, the stunningly beautiful Ait Bougmez Valley has managed to preserve a traditional way of life that closely follows the seasons and is based on agriculture and the herding of livestock.
You’re invited to immerse yourself in the beauty of an untouched valley, where friendly locals reside and easy to difficult one-day to multi-day treks, lively market days and ancient traditions await. Meaning happy valley in the local dialect, discover why Ait Bougmez Valley is one of Morocco’s best-kept secrets.
Grab a map and start planning your trek.
Perhaps a full-day hike following in the footsteps of the Ait Atta nomads to cross the mountain range leads to Lake Izourar at the foot of Jebel (Mount) Azourki, an ancient glacial valley. During the summer months, the valley is filled with herdsmen grazing their flocks. In winter months, the lake provides a beautiful backdrop for a picnic, which our staff can prepare for you.
Hike through the valley’s rich pastoral landscapes to the market town of Tabant, where locals flock to stock up on supplies for the week. This is also where you’ll find the central post office, municipal government offices and small shops servicing the area.
Hop a ride to the base of the Sidi Mosa marabout where legend has it that those travelers who leave a gift for the now deceased saint, will still honour their wishes. Wander in to the shrine for views over the vast green valley and to learn a little bit more about the local beliefs and culture.
For a shorter walk, wander down in to the valley along dirt roads that pass through villages and architectural gems including mud-brick kasbahs, some of which are now abandoned. Stroll along the terraced plots where locals work the land by hand. Stop for a moment of reflection under a fruit tree. Just don’t be surprised if a local stops to say hello, or invites you to join a tea break in the field.
The locals in the village are extremely friendly and the Touda EcoLodge staff all lives locally. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited to one of their homes for tea or meet the family.
When market day takes over in nearby Ait Bououli (car required) valley, travelers are transported back in time. Locals flock to the central town to stock up on supplies of all kinds – foodstuff, materials for the home, and tools. In one area farriers are shoeing horses, in another locals gather together to sip mint tea and enjoy a sfenj (donut) under a tent. Further afield, a local dentist attends to patients with tooth pain in a traditional manner. When hunger hits, head to one of the local grills for tender barbequed meats and vegetables served in an unassuming atmosphere.
Other hiking possibilities are possible, including an ascent of Ait Ourit (2920m), providing magnificent views of both the Mgoun and the Ait Bougmez Valley.
Some of our efforts include:
– The construction of and daily life at Touda EcoLodge takes in to account respect for the environment. We have installed solar panels to provide hot water to all en-suite bathrooms and our on-site hammam.
– Creation of an eco-museum that promotes the local culture by displaying ancestral and modern-day tools, exhibitions about war, daily life, and more. The museum aims to also highlight the challenges of rural desertification.
– Distribution of school supplies to the local children.
– Construction of a washhouse
– Launch of a reforestation campaign
– Waste collection in the valley
– Rehabilitation of irrigation channels
– Creation of a medical caravan
– Initiation of local people into selective recycling, etc.
– In collaboration with the Tree of the Traveller we’ve organized photographic workshops with students studying at the boarding school in Tabant. With some basic knowledge and a few materials, children capture their daily life through a photographic lens while also creating awareness of the value of their culture.
– Purchase and adaptation of 10 trash receptacles in 2013, to increase awareness of selective sorting and respect of nature.
–With an investment of €1000.00 from Touda EcoLodge, 32 families benefited from a renewed water supply system after the previous system no longer met the needs of the community.
– Distribution of almond trees, in partnership with the French association Globetrekkeurs. Adapted to the rocky grounds, almond trees are able to resist drought and limit soil erosion. In Zawyat Oulmzi where Touda EcoLodge is located, the fruits are consumed by the locals the village.