Sunday, 24 May 2015

Hiking Zaghouan: Rock Traverse

time: 4hrs
distance: 9km
altitude difference: 660m
difficulty: moderate / hard
notes: first part way-marked, last quarter difficult route finding

Park the car at the restaurant at Temple des Eaux. Hike for around 20  minutes up the mountain road until you see the sign Eco Rando on the left side. Hit this broad forest trail (which is actually the start). After 200 metres, just before the main trail bends left, there’s a smaller trail cutting back almost 180 degrees. Take this gradually ascending trail. There are way marks (white arrows painted on the rocks), but they point the opposite direction. It was marked from the top. The easy going trail stays clear and zigzags up. You keep the communication towers in view. Once you’re higher up you can start seeing the main ridge in southerly direction. You might be able to see the path that you will be taking. At the final bit of this trail section the path stays level and aims towards the bend in the tarmac road.

The first section of the trail with the route continuing on the flanks of the ridge in the distance 

Cross the road and turn right on the ascending, still clear trail. After around 600 metres the trail drops and roughens (a messy zigzag down). On your left are vertical cliffs. It still is a proper trail, but now and then it’s taken over by trees. After another 500 metres, when the landscape is more open, the path fades. One track goes down, the other aims for the big ridge wall in front of you. You should head for the end of the vertical wall on the right side. The path is now a network goat tracks, but these all lead up the broad top part of the ridge. Here you have two options. The easiest is to descend to the clear trail 150m lower. It’s a little bit steep, but the terrain remains quite open. Once you reached the trail, turn right (decending) and follow the trail towards the upper road, close to the marabout (see Zaghouan Pass hike, first section but now in reverse). The other option is to gradually descend, following the goat tracks. This choice is harder: the tracks fade and go occosionally go through shrub. But it’s possible! The route goes in northwesterly direction and leads as well towards the upper mountain road. For the final descent take the easy path from the marabout (description see Marabout Loop) to the lower part of the mountain road. Turn right towards Temple des Eaux.

Below: second section of the trail on the massif's main ridge

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