Cirque de Jaffar is a natural cirque located in the Eastern High Atlas, a mountain range in central Morocco in Northern Africa. The road to this amphitheatre is one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It’s incredibly disorienting to look over the edge, or even just to see the valleys a couple thousand feet below you. Drivers must remain cautious as the pass has been known to claim the lives of careless drivers.
The road to reach the Cirque de Jaffar is called Piste de Jaffar. It’s extremely rugged and here is a high risk of death and serious injury on this road. It’s one of the classic pistes in the Eastern High Atlas and leaves the Midelt–Tattiouine road to edge its way through a hollow in the foothills of the Jebel Ayachi.
The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. The drive is definitely worth it. Don’t forget your camera! The views of the High Atlas mountains are truly dramatic and the rugged road ensures an element of adventure – this is very different countryside to that immediately around Midelt, a place where eagles soar above the hills and mule tracks lead down to valleys dotted with the occasional kasbah. The route eventually loops back to the Midelt–Azrou road after 34km – turn right, onto the 3426, near the Maison Forestière de Mitkane.
It’s a real challenging road and a true test of your vehicle and your stamina because the road abounds in twists and turns with wheels sometimes hanging above the precipice. The 80 km long trip around a hollow in the mountain is named after the tomb and village of Sidi Jaffar.
After rain, even a single rainfall, conditions of the road can be challenging. Adverse weather conditions can prompt closure of the road. Thunderstorm activity can quickly change unpaved roads to four-wheel-drive condition or make them impassable. The cirque in places has a slope of maybe 20 degrees. And there's loads of places where debris comes over the track and increases the angle of slope to maybe 45-50 degrees.
If you dare to take the risk and travel along this dusty and bumpy route, then make sure to be driven by someone who has experience of the road. It’s passable (slowly) by any normal sized 4x4. The higher parts of the High Atlas mountains receive snow during winter; however, it is relatively rare for roads to be blocked. Valleys may be susceptible to flash flooding from rain and in spring (from snowmelt).
This track can get very muddy and slippery after rain making it challenging to get through. During and after a storm the road may be impassable, even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.