Bouarfa, the start point on this route, is the southern terminus of the Oudja to Bouarfa ‘Orient Desert Express’ which runs half a dozen times each year for railway enthusiasts. The line was built in 1941-42 by the Vichy French using slave labour and intended to be a trans-Sahara route to Niger, however the sections below Bouarfa have now been abandoned.

At one time Figuig (pronounced F’geeg), the end point on this route, was the southernmost crossing point from Morocco into Algeria, however it saw fighting in the street between the two countries’ armies in the 1960s ‘Sand War’ with Algeria. The border closed in the 1990s and has not reopened since, however doubtlessly there is cross-border smuggling going on in remote places.

The route between Bouarfa and Figuig starts on tarmac then uses a ‘back door’ piste to approach Figuig via Jebel Amore which forms the border with Algeria. It’s an easy blue (non-technical) piste and seemingly OK for 2wd cars so long as the little diversion at km62 is ignored.


km50: nice easy piste


km53: oncoming local van


km59: no real tricky bits


km67: even going off route


km68: moment of reflection


km76: new dam being built over where the piste went...


...if you find yourself in the middle of a damp rutted sand river crossing you've gone the wrong way


km79: the dam after the diversion


km82: nobody seem fazed by my ignoring the 'no entry' sign


km87: approaching Jebel Amore, the base of which forms the Algerian border


km96: Jebel Maïz reminds me of Gable End in the Lake District


from Hotel Figuig looking south east into Algeria (between the hills)


from Hotel Figuig looking south west into Algeria (gap between the hills)


closed since 1994


the Algerian guard disappeared when he saw the camera