The scary road to Tizi n'Test in the High Atlas
Tizi n'Test is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.101m (6,893ft) above the sea level located on the boundary of Marrakesh-Safi and Souss-Massa-Drâa regions of Morocco. It's one of the most spectacular drives of the country.
How long is Tizi n'Test?
The road to the summit is totally paved. It’s called Tizi n’Test Road (R203). The pass is 47.7 km (29.63 miles) long, running south-north from Tafingoult to Mouldikht.
When was the road to Tizi n'Test built?
The road through the summit is an amazing piece of French engineering. The French colonialists built the road between 1926 and 1932. It was the first modern road to link the Marrakech to the Souss plains, the Mountains to the Sahara. Until then, it had been considered impracticable and only a few Sultans could exercise some control on this important pass for trade to the South. At this time there is a straight and flat road from Agadir to Marrakech, which everyone takes. This means that the Tizi n’Test road isn’t as well maintained.
How long does it take to drive Tizi n'Test?
To drive the road without stopping will take most people between 75 and 90 minutes. There are several cafes along the road.
Is Tizi n'Test dangerous?
The drive up to Col du Tizi-n-Test is not for the faint-hearted... Some experience of mountain roads is advisable. The trip is thus not recommended for those with more than mild vertigo. The road is quite scary. The edge of the road to the precipice always feels way too close. The climb is very steep and you’ll come across several trucks. The road has to be driven in daylight – and not just to make the best of the views. It’s not a road to be attempted in the dark. It’s one of the most exhilarating, overwhelmingly beautiful drives you will ever take. This road is only one car wide in places, with 500m cliffs common on the unbarriered road and no road markings. Taxis, coaches and lorries come around the corners at high speeds. On the same corner you will have the distraction of locals selling minerals and cooking herbs, drive slowly. The road is scary due to trucks and buses, its narrowness and the hairpin bends and precipitous drops. The road is particularly challenging on the 1,600 m descent from the pass to Taroudannt. This road trip should only be done during the hours of sun light, due to the lack of barriers and large lorries. These drivers do the same trip for 20+ years and they know the road, like you know the back of your hand.
Is Tizi n'Test worth it?
The drive offers sweeping views of the mountains. No matter which way you come, you will appreciate the breathtaking views from numerous points along the way. The road to the summit is also a spectacular feat of engineering. At the summit of the pass, a small restaurant has panoramic views southwards across the Souss Valley, with the ridge of the Anti-Atlas Mountains rising majestically above the haze. On arrival at the summit, you may choose to take a hot drink and a simple but tasty egg tagine served by the little auberge which commands far reaching views. The pass offers fabulous views of the region, but be warned that the way through the pass entails a lengthy series of hairpin bends.
Is Tizi n'Test open?
Running across the High Atlas, never drive this road if it’s raining, because there are landslides and avalanches often. And it’s blocked sometimes by snow. Usually it’s very cloudy once you get in to Tizin'test.
Pic: mounir rafi