The Taza gap between the Rif mountains to the north, and Jebel Tazzeka to the south was the natural invasion route for the Arabs subduing Morocco, who subsequently made the area around Fez and Meknes their lands.

The start point for this route is the big modern city of Taza—a handy base for exploring the eastern end of the Middle Atlas chain. Nearby hotels are the Friouato and Dauphin, neither of which impressed me, but that was a few years back. The route climbs through the limestone scenery and the cork oak and cedar forests of the Jebel Tazzeka National Park, reaching 2277m before descending to Sefrou, south of Fez.

Take warm clothes and a torch if you are going to stop to explore the goufre (cavern) as torch hire is expensive. The route is tarmac the whole way but with a couple of opportunities for pistes if you so wish.

This can also be tackled as a circular day trip from Fez, especially when the new Fez-Oujda motorway opens in 2011-12.

The photos are a mix from four separate trips at different times of the year which explains the different sky colours.

km5: slowly climbing towards Ras el Ma

km18: a huge classic polje—a depression within karst limestone

km21.3: plan of the Gouffre Friouato

descending into the abyss

km36: with Adrian Tamone and David Sobrano of MotoAdvenTours

km40: a lovely switchback of a road (note the upper section)

km67: riding with Adrian Tamone and David Sobrano of MotoAdvenTours

km69: looking back many kilometers on the approach road way off in the distance

km70: exciting scenery

Snow at altitude

km79.9: now into the snowline (in Apr 2009)

cedar trees (just around the corner from previous photo, but now Oct 2010)

km114: before turning right, carry on to explore the notch on the skyline (km118)

km116: piste option for your return

from an earlier trip (Oct 2008)

km118: wide angle view from the 2277m high point

telephoto view of the snow-tipped Jebel Ayachi range, 140km to the south

km123: interesting interplay of strata and pisé houses

km130: cedars and wild flowers (spring 2006)

km131: ropey tarmac in places, but the scenery makes up for it

km149: looking back on the high level cirque with great views

slooking forward where the route heads to the left and starts the descent

km153: looking back on previous location

km175: just before Ribat el Kheir look back for one final view