Morocco: Camel trekking and desert hikes in Sahara with Akabar - Sahara Treks and the team of Ait Atta nomads

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The Tafraout area in Jebel Bani

The  valley of Tafraout - in the Jbel Bani Mountains - is about 2 hours drive from Zagora.
Electricity has only been available since mid-March 2016. Depending on where you live in Tafraout, there is more or less water, because the valley is crossed by an underground water vein similar to a river. Thus, the wells are of different depths, as for example approximately 140 m at the new nomadic school. If necessary, the inhabitants pump water into an open container a few hundred metres away from the house; women and children carry many canisters of water into their houses every day. There are hardly any toilets and showers.  For cooking, they use the wood collected during the daily migration of the shepherds. The nomads in the mountains take water, if available, from water holes or walk with a donkey to a well further away. The laundry is also washed there.
The inhabitants of Tafraout built in the past years step by step on two roads through the valley, the state supported them with equipment.

Since about 2015, agriculture in the Tafraout Valley has been developing rapidly. Around 2012/2013, only a few semi-nomads built watermelons in their gardens, and melon fields are now spreading throughout the high valley as far as the mountain slopes. The state provides support for farmers in the form of water reservoirs (approx. 20x5x3m) and pump houses. The people concentrate only on the cultivation of watermelons, which ripen in this area of Morocco as the first in the country. So far the melons have brought a good and fast income, but now negative effects are discernible. Due to the oversupply of watermelons and cool temperatures in April and May and consequently lower demand, some farmers have already fallen into debt.
A first alternative is offered by the medicinal plant project, which is supported by the hand in hand fund of the "Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V." .

A look into the mud houses, however, reveals no change. The daily drinking and industrial water is carried still with canisters from the open well into the house, it is cooked further with wood and baked.

Aid projects
The nomadic families of Tafraout are supported since years with great commitment  by:

   The Italian association "Associazione Mondo Incantato" - Establishment of nomadic schools and funding of teachers -
FAO  - Financing of the 2nd nomad school in the Tafraout Valley -
the German associoation "Engineers without borders" - Ingenieure ohne Grenzen -
Sparkasse Markgräflerland - high water containers, water pipes and kitchen annex



HiHLogoThe Hand in Hand-Fund of "Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V."

supports the "Association Akabar for Sustainable Development and Culture - الثقافة و للتنمية أكابار جمعية جمعية" in the following project, which was initiated last year by Hafid Benyachou's trekking guest Annett Z. and started in summer 2019.                                    

This project aims to encourage rural women from the Tafraout/Jebel Bani area to cultivate medicinal herbs and teas in order to prevent the knowledge of medicinal plants from being forgotten. The first step of the project consists of finding, recording and photographing medicinal plants in Jebel Bani and the dune area. The older nomadic women, who have only transmitted their knowledge orally so far, will be interviewed and subsequently searched for the appropriate plants, photographed and the findings recorded in writing.

In the second phase of the project it is planned to cultivate suitable medicinal herbs on fields in the high valley of Tafraout, which will be bought or leased. The fields are to be cultivated by women. Marketing and sales will also be in the hands of the women, who will be able to earn their own income with this project. The aim is to establish a women's cooperative.

This project is intended to offer alternatives to the watermelon cultivation boom. Negative effects are already being felt.



Private donations by our trekking guests:

Our Swiss partner has again provided a larger sum for the medical care of the nomadic families of the Jebel Bani area and promised further donations. In future, doctors will visit nomads of this area several times a year. Hafid Benyachou and the Association of Nomads "Association Akabar for Sustainable Development and Culture - الثقافة و للتنمية أكابار جمعية"  are planning to take appropriate measures together with the local health authority of Zagora.

Further Swiss donation projects:

  • desanding or deepening of some wells in the mountains 
  • involvement of lawyers to clarify the issues land rights of the nomads of Jebel Bani and review of the legality of a judgment
  • renewing trekking pathes far away in Bani mountains
  • support of the nomadic schools of Tafraout area


Reparation of well on 16th June 2018

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       Brunnen4     Brunnen7


On 14.12.2018 a big tent was given to a nomad family beeing in need

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Trekking guests who traveled  in their motorhome from Germany to Zagora received two older, well-preserved sewing machines for the nomadic association Akabar, Tafraout/Sahara and handed them over Hafid Benyachou in Zagora. The joy of the nomad women was great. Many thanks for your help.

We continue to search for cheap sewing machines so that nomad women also from the new school in eastern Tafraout can learn how to sew.



Hafid Benyachou and the nomads of the Association Akabar have actively supported the nomads of the Bouhjab area in establishing an independent nomad association, which, like the Association Akabar, regulates its own affairs and contacts authorities and other bodies outside the desert: Association of Nomads Cavaran for Development in the Desert. People of Bouhjab-Elbayd



Association Akabar for Sustainable Development and Culture / الثقافة و للتنمية أكابار جمعية



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The members of "Akabar" on a meeting

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The heavy and long lasting rain of November 2014 caused also damage to the piste into the Tafraout valley. The members of "Akabar" repair the "road" by themselves:

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Project: water container for the nomad school of Tafraout

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IMG 0642     IMG 0750     IMG 0822



Project processed by "Ingenieure ohne Grenzen" in December 2016:


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Donations go directly to the Association Akabar; the income and expenditure account is re-examined by the auditor and by local authorities. Please contact us if you have any questions or suggestions about making a donation.
Bank account:
Beneficiary: Association Akabar Pour Le Devepp. Et Culture, Tafraout, Banque Populaire du Centre Sud, AG Zagora
RIB: MAD 101 565 29 2121184501150009