Azzaden Valley in the Atlas Mountains
I recently spent a week trekking in the Atlas Mountains and it was a fantastic time to visit. Whilst the weather back home was beginning to get bitingly cold, just a few hours flight away in Morocco it was still warm and sunny. One of the highlights of the trek, which I'll write about at greater length later, was the Azzaden Valley (also sometimes spelt the Azzanane Valley). Whilst the Ourika Valley grabs most day visitors from Marrakech and the neighbouring Imlil Valley attracts the hordes of trekkers keen to summit Toubkal, Azzaden is the quieter and just as spectacular counterpart. With Autumn setting in, the colours of the Walnut Trees that hug the valley floor were at their most spectacular making for some incredible photography. Enjoy...
The Walnut groves were particularly photogenic, providing a wonderful contrast to the monochrome valleys.
Juniper trees dominate the vegetation and I was on the lookout for the most gnarled juniper I could find. There were definitely more gnarly juniper trees, but this had the best view...
The berber villages mostly consist of simple earth and stone buildings and narrow winding streets. This shot was taken in Tizi Oussem
Again in Tizi Oussem, this was one of the smarter Gites (local guesthouses) the terrace shown has wonderful views over the valley.
This shot was taken higher up the Assaden Valley with the gate to a shepherds pen in the foreground.
There are several simple mountain refuges in the higher reaches of the Azzaden Valley for trekkers. This is Refugio Azib Tamsoult
The valley closes up into a narrow gorge towards it's head. Just visible is the Cascadas d'irhoulidene
The aforementioned Cascadas d'irhoulidene resplendent with rainbow
The final ascent out of the valley towards the peak of Aguelzim at 3500m was a tortuously steep scree slope with exactly 99 zig-zags. Trust me, I counted every one....
The pay-off, the view from close to the peak of Aguelzim was wonderful and arguably as good as anything from the peak of Toubkal