Touring Morocco by Bike (5.1): Midelt – Imilchil
Midelt – Imilchil (152km)
Impressive Landscape, remote villages, river crossing adventure, blustery wind, scary bad road, hospitality locals, and the most ‘special’ – wild kids throwing stones. Combining all these gave me a memorable 3 day journey to cross the Altas mountain, for sure it is one of the best cycling route in Morocco.
Day 1 (56km)
The most common way to go Imilchil from Midelt is via Rich, I have heard that road condition is bad, but at least it is drivable for vehicle. But this route I took via Ait Omghar is even worst, a few km road is completely damaged. I had to push or lift the bicycle on a river bed with stones and water, it would be quite dangerous in raining days, so it is better to ask locals or at the Kzar Timnay Campsite for the updated road condition.
There is another road via Boumia (GPS:32.725274, -5.101769) and Tounfite (GPS: 32.472296, -5.243913) , it seems also a good option.
I headed South from Kzar Timnay Camping, crossed the bridge and turned to the smaller path (with no sign). There are some villages and orchards along the road. I didn’t meet many people but I saw many boxes and rotten apples. The air was full of apple smell, it was the season for apple picking.
After 15km I reached Ait Omghar, where you can find cafe or kiosk. I was surrounded by kids and got invited to have a drink at Cafe. The atmosphere of this remote area was so different to those relatively developed area in Morocco that I passed by.
The first 25km was a 3% climbing road, which I was expecting more difficult before. The road is wide and surface is fine concrete, I have seen less than 5 cars in a hour, sometimes I met shepherd with sheeps. It was little strange to have such a nice road in this remote place.
After a 2000m pass, there is a beautiful remote village at the foot of a snowpeak mountain. Villages in this region are quite similar – situated in a village surrounded by high mountain, houses made with mud and separate by fields or rivers, apple trees and white poplar are scattered among around the village.
Beautiful scenery is always the best return for climbing, I went downhill happily and reached another village – Imatchimen in about 10km. They were building some new roads and the road sign was not clear, you may need to ask locals for direction.
Starting from here, when you pass through a village, you will always be surrounded by kids, asking for money or candy, if you stop kindly, they will try to take something out of your bags or anything they can touch, then you have to shout rudely to get free… Similar situation was repeating in these few days.
Road starting from Imatchimen is dirt road, and the condition is getting worse. Sometimes the road goes along a narrow valley, or on a flat area with some houses, it was not easy to find a hidden place for wild camping. It’s getting dark after 15km, so I set my tent just under a tree next to the road. Many villagers passed by before sunset, but I was not sure if they saw my tent.
Extremely Strong wind blow for the whole night, probably the longest I have ever experienced. The tent was bended down till my body, it woke me up and I needed to push the tent by hand, at the same time, I was imagining what would happen if the tent was broken…. This area is quite rich of water resources but there is not many trees, maybe it is because of the wind.
Accommodation / Information:
- It’s about 55km from Kzar Timnay Camping to the place I camped, only Ait Omghar has cafe and kiosk.
- Possible to get water at the river near Imatchimen, but not recommended to drink straight.
- No accommodation on the road, you may get invited to stay in someone’s home, safety should not be a issue, but most of them cannot speak English, and I don’t feel comfortable if I cannot communicate with the host, so I decided to do wild camping.
- After 10km of the crossroad to Tounfite (about 50km from Kzar Timnay Camping), the road is extremely bad (if you still treat it as a road), I would highly recommended you don’t enter this valley too late, where you may have to push the bicycle up to 2 hours.