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High Atlas Travel Guide

Tizi-n-Test

Thanks to the abundance of water, the Lalla Takerkoust dam is a good cooling-off point in the region. Fed by the river Oued Nfis, the lake has a shoreline stretching 7 km (4 miles) and offers fabulous views of High Atlas peaks. It was originally made by the French to ensure the surrounding Houz Plains were watered. There are various activities available such as trekking and horseback riding, as

well as water sports (although the ethics of such activities on a reservoir are somewhat questionable), and an increasing number of hotels and guesthouses.

The road to Tizi-n-Test is one of Morocco's most glorious mountain drives. The route south from Ouirgane to Tizi-n-Test takes you through the upper Nfis Valley, which was the spiritual heart of the Almohad Empire in the 12th century and later the administrative center of the Goundafi caids (local or tribal leaders) in the first half of the 20th century. It's best enjoyed as a day trip by car from Ouirgane, especially as lodging options are seriously basic and few. There are plenty of cafés on the way, however, and a great stop off at Tin Mal Mosque.

The route to Tizi-n-Test clings to the mountainside, sometimes triple-backing on itself to climb the heights in a series of precipitous hairpin bends. It's often only a narrow single lane, with sheer drops, blind corners, and tumbling scree. Expect every bend to reveal a wide and furiously fast Land Rover coming right at you, or worse, a group of children playing soccer. Honk as you round sharp corners, and give way to traffic climbing uphill. There is no need to pick up hitchhikers, as they are most probably just moving from one nearby village to another. However, if asked for water, you can stop and hand over any spare water bottles through the window.

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