Tizi n'Tichka

Tizi n'Tichka is a difficult mountain road in the Atlas

Tizi n'Tichka (Col du Tichka) is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.212m (7,257ft) above the sea level, located on the boundary between Marrakesh-Safi and Drâa-Tafilalet regions in central Morocco in Northern Africa. Tizi n’Tichka means “difficult mountain pasture” in Berber and you’ll see why.

How long is Tizi n'Tichka?

Set high in the High Atlas mountains, the road to the summit is totally paved. It’s called Route Nationale 9 (formerly Route P-31). The pass is 54km (33 miles) long, running north-south from Zerkten to Agouim. The road was built as a military highway in 1936 by the French. Today, Route Nationale 9 links the south-east of Marrakesh to the city of Ouarzazate.

Is Tizi n'Tichka open?

This road is usually open all year round, but from November to March, snow can often fall on the pass, and can be closed when the access is not cleared of snow. Conditions can change quickly and be harsh, particularly during winter. It can be warm all year round in the strong sun.

Is Tizi n'Tichka dangerous?

The pass sits between the great Marrakech Plains and the gateway of the Sahara Desert. Due its location, it can get quite busy. If you are travelling south, it’s recommended to take this road in the morning an avoid any crowds. The thoroughfare is not just made of tourists, there are lots of trucks. It is a fairly good road, winding of course, and sometimes it is better not to look around too much. It’s said to be one of the nation’s most dramatic and hair-raising drives. Tichka means "it’s difficult" and so it means literally a difficult path, because it has so many switchbacks. The road is only 1-1/2 lanes and there are few crash barriers and many precipitous drops. It features more than 100 turns. Drive with your headlights on at all times as it is easier for oncoming vehicles to see you. On the climb, the road is quite good, and some parts have recently been upgraded. Interestingly, the road is upgraded in chunks, so you may alternate between the old road and newly sealed road. There is lots of wind. While the road is on occasion bumpy, it is possible to drive with a 2WD vehicle.

Is Tizi n'Tichka worth it?

This high mountain road offers stunning views of the Atlas Mountains around every switchback and hairpin turn. At the summit visitors will enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. As the road begins to make its way down to Ouarzazate, travelers will be able to marvel at pre-Sahara regions that lie dry and motionless and the silent peaks of the great Atlas Mountains. The views, the villages and the time spent on the Tizi n’Tichka Pass are a truly unique experience. Travelers are encouraged to take this journey of history, wonder and natural amazement. Near the pass is Kasbah Aït Benhaddou, probably the most celebrated, filmed and photographed kasbah in Morocco. Featured in numerous films (including Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky and Gladiator), it is the best-preserved kasbah in Morocco and has 10 families still inhabiting it. At the summit there are shops selling minerals.
Pic: Jl Soli

 

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