Driving the difficult road to Tizi n'Tichka in the Atlas
Tizi n'Tichka is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.212m (7,257ft) above the sea level, located in Morocco. Tizi n’Tichka means “difficult mountain pasture” in Berber and you’ll see why.
Where is Tizi n'Tichka?
The pass is located on the boundary of Marrakesh-Safi and Drâa-Tafilalet regions of Morocco. Geographically, the pass lies between the great Marrakech Plains and the gateway of the Sahara Desert, on the High Atlas mountains.
How long is Tizi n'Tichka?
Tucked away in the central part of the country, the road to the summit, also known as Col du Tichka and Tizi n’Aguelmous, 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?
Set high in the High Atlas mountains, 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. It can be warm all year round in the strong sun.
Is Tizi n'Tichka dangerous?
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. 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 most famous road through the High Atlas leads from the vast plains surrounding the royal city of Marrakech to the pass, which is quite often blocked by snow in the winter and is then impassable down around the beautiful kasbahs (clay medieval fortress) to Ourzazate, the gateway to the valley of river Draa and Sahara Desert. 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