Monday, 24 June 2013

Tazekka zigzags

Stripped cork trees
Jebel Tazekka

About 100 kilometres to the east of Fes, near the town of Taza there is the Parc National de Tazekka that is typically not signposted off the main road. However, once you enter the park it is, for Morocco, very well signposted. maybe at the weekends the park is full of daytrippers from Fes and elsewhere. However, it felt like that other than the people who live and work there, I was the only person in the whole park. The park has a couple of gorges, an extensive system of caves and lots of cedar and cork trees.

It also has a summit, Jebel Tazekka that is a 'mere' 1980m with an unknown (to me) prominence, but I reckon it must be a P600 Major judging by the visible drop between the neighbouring ranges of the Jbel Bou Iblane to the south and the Rif mountains to the north.
I entered the park by leaving the N6 road at an inconspicuous junction near Sidi-Abdallah-el-Ghiala at N34.17117 W4.32021 and following the road through  the Gorges de l'Oued Zireg to the south of the summit, where there was sign (N34.05765 W4.15975 1478m) offering a choice of two walking routes. However, there is an unpaved road that leaves the paved road at N34.05160 W4.16746 (1505m). I drove part way up the track to N34.06162 W4.17177 where there was a little shelter from the sun and just before the ruts in the road got a bit worse. It is possible to drive all the way to the summit - however I thought that if I wanted to remain slim, fit, tanned, good-looking and interesting company to be with I should go for a walk.
I followed the track until it came to a broad col and then decided to see if there was an alternative way that went to the east of the intervening summit and found quite a nice terrace that traversed all the way round - this terrace is quite obvious when viewed from the road below (in hindsight). This took me to another col - the terrace ends at N34.08178 W4.17540 (1753). There is a junction with the original track at N34.08241 W4.17731 (1786m).
A zig, or is it a zag?
From there you head for a gap in the trees at N34.08396 W.4.17788 (1804m), from where you become a zigzag wanderer on the road to the disappointing summit.

Summit rock
Why disappointing? because it is dominated by five masts, the detritus of previous buildings and the noise o several generators - and the view is limited by the trees. Shame - because up to then the walk had been quite pleasant with glimpsed views through the trees.I found a rock that could be the natural top N34.09063 W4.18304 (1985m) and then I made my excuses and left, using the mast road all the way back.
Not a pretty site

On the road to Taza I made a quick visit to the Gouffre du Friouato - a large hole in the ground that is the start of a much bigger cave system that I could have paid extra to have a guided tour. I then drove over the east end of the Rif mountains to the Mediterranean coast at the lively resort of Al Hoceima.

Overnight in the carpark of Al Hoceima port - as recommended to me by a gendarme.

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