Nomads, Tombs and Petroglyphs – Jebel Adad in Ouarzazate, Morocco

Home โ— Adventure โ— Nomads, Tombs and Petroglyphs – Jebel Adad in Ouarzazate, Morocco
Updated May 6, 2017 / Joรฃo Leitรฃo / 3 Comments / Filed in: / Reading time 6 minutes
Nomads, Tombs and Petroglyphs - Jbel Adad in Ouarzazate

Nomads, Tombs and Petroglyphs – Jbel Adad in Ouarzazate

Jbel Adad

Ouarzazate is a famous south Moroccan destination.

Often called as the “The door of the desert,” Ouarzazate is the starting point for several desert tours, the route of the 1001 Kasbahs, the Rose Valley and the UNESCO site of the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou.

The region around Ouarzazate offers lush landscapes with villages camouflaged in the arid scenery of the mountains and with hidden oasis covered with palm trees.

Nomad girls near tent

Nomad girls near tent

Seven months per year, Ouarzazate is surrounded by the 4000 m / 13123 ft High Atlas snowy mountains.

The uniqueness of its landscape provided the backdrop for many films, some of them historical as Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, The Kingdom of Heaven, Gladiator and Game of Thrones – Season 3, among others.

Jbel Adad in Ouarzazate

Jbel Adad in Ouarzazate

Still, beyond all these famous sites, Ouarzazate has much more to offer, and many hidden gems are reachable within 20 minutes from the city center.

Although I have been living in Ouarzazate for a few years now, the region keeps on surprising me for its beauty and for some interesting things to visit.

Just recently I engaged myself on exploring the fantastic pre-Islamic site of Jbel Adad. Located in the foothills of a huge rocky mountain called Jbel Adad (literally Mountain Finger), the landscape is made of volcanic rock, resembling some Lava Fields in Iceland.

Jbel Adad is located right on the northern slopes of Jbel Saghro Mountain, which geographically corresponds to the connection between the High Atlas and the Anti-Atlas.


What to do around Jbel Adad


Jbel Adad and a herd of goats

Jbel Adad and a herd of goats

Jbel Adad is located in a severe desert environment. Still, some people and a small variety of wildlife survive. On this page I make a small description of the things to do around the pre-Islamic site of Jbel Adad, where we can find old tombs structures and petroglyphs.

1-Pre-Islamic tombs

Pre-Islamic tombs near Ouarzazate

Pre-Islamic tombs near Ouarzazate

There are several pre-Islamic tombs around Jbel Adad. All around the surrounding hills, huge standing stones limit small reliefs of large rocks and several oval structures, sunk into the ground. Several other concentrated stone structures could be tombs, but we can’t tell.

Pre-Islamic tombs near Ouarzazate

Pre-Islamic tombs near Ouarzazate

These are known to be pre-Islamic since Muslims bury their dead with the head pointing towards Mecca in Saudi Arabia. On the northern part of the mountain there are some small tombs, but further south, on the way to the petroglyphs, there are relatively high rock structures with about 1 m / 3.2 ft high.

Pre-Islamic tombs near Ouarzazate

Pre-Islamic tombs near Ouarzazate

Many of these tombs are spread around a big area, so either you spend a few hours walking, or, you just drive from site to site.

2-Azib Nโ€™Oudad

Upper view of Azib N Oudad

Upper view of Azib N Oudad

Two families live in the little oasis settlement of Azib Nโ€™Oudad. This place literally means “Sheepfold of the Fingers.” Indeed several sheepfolds can be found around this oasis.

Sheepfold in Azib N Oudad

Sheepfold in Azib N Oudad

There are a few houses and a water well with fresh drinkable water year-round – even in the hottest summers of 52ยบ C / 125ยบ F.

Woman getting water from well in Azib N Oudad

Woman getting water from well in Azib N Oudad

When I was there, I helped a lady carrying some buckets of water from the well to her house.

3-Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs near Ouarzazate

Petroglyphs near Ouarzazate

I have a personal obsession with rock art in general, no matter if it is pictographs, petroglyphs or earth figures such as geoglyphs or intaglios. Near one of the nomad camp of Jbel Adad, there is a fabulous example of petroglyphs.

Petroglyphs near Ouarzazate

Petroglyphs near Ouarzazate

Although we can also find other geographic patterns such as grid lines in the nearby hill, these, in particular, are amazing. I had to come to this place a second time since I didn’t find the petroglyphs on the first day.

Petroglyphs near Ouarzazate

Petroglyphs near Ouarzazate

[su_note note_color=”#f2f2f2″]Rock art is usually divided into three types: petroglyphs, which are carved into the rock surface; pictographs, which are painted onto the surface; and earth figures, engraved into the ground.
[/su_note]
Petroglyphs near Ouarzazate

Petroglyphs near Ouarzazate

The location of these petroglyphs provides incredible views over the surrounding desert mountains. There is one of the engravings that beautifully portrays a camel eating / drinking water.

4-Drink tea with a nomad family

Ouarzazate nomad camp

Ouarzazate nomad camp

Nomadic herders are thought to have existed in North Africa from around 4000 BC.

Nomad family with donkeys coming back from oasis

Nomad family with donkeys coming back from oasis

Today, this way of life persists, and around Jbel Adad still live half a dozen Amazigh (Berber) nomad families. Daily life is rough due to the harsh mountain desert environment of southern Morocco. Daily tasks are strictly divided among the members of the family.

Bread, Moroccan tea, warm butter with honey

Bread, Moroccan tea, warm butter with honey

While the men go to herd the goats in the mountain from early morning until sunset, the women take care of the kids, pick water at the nearby oasis and prepare the food.

Serving Moroccan tea by friendly man

Serving Moroccan tea by friendly man

5-Rocky Canyon Oasis

Rocky canyon oasis near Jbel Adad

Rocky canyon oasis near Jbel Adad

Just a 20-minute walk into the rocky gorge we can find a beautiful greenish oasis. There are a water well and plenty of fig trees year round, and several nomad families get together every two days, to fill up their water containers and take water back to their camp.

Spring inside the rocky oasis

Spring inside the rocky oasis

Temperature drastically changes from the moment you get under the shadow provided by the trees. There’s a nearby 10 m / 32 ft waterfall that dries up during the summer months.

6-Wildlife

Grasshopper looking at me..l think.

Grasshopper looking at me..l think.

Apart from camel and goat herds, you’ll probably notice some curious Rainbow-Agama lizards. If you’re lucky you can spot wolves, especially around dawn – a nomad told me.

Inside the rocks, there are many rainbow agama lizards.

Rainbow Agama Lizard

Rainbow Agama Lizard

Morocco is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Even in desert areas, we can spot different bird species. Jbel Adad is also good for bird watching. I had three desert Dunn’s Lark birds following me while I was searching for the petroglyphs.

Dunn's Lark bird following me the whole time

Dunn’s Lark bird following me the whole time

And of course, the best “animal” experience you can have while visiting Jbel Adad, is to interact with the goats. The little ones will want to suck your finger.

Goat sucking my finger

Goat sucking my finger

7-Trekking

Trekking around Ouarzazate

Trekking around Ouarzazate

You can walk all the way to this mountain, coming from Ouarzazate. Take into consideration that you shouldn’t hike in the desert during summer months as temperatures are extreme. Two or three days are enough to walk 30 km / 19 mi from Ouarzazate, set your tent and explore the region for one or two days, and return.

You can also drive, enter the tracks to reach the nomad camp, and from there explore the area during the day. Inevitably, nomads will invite you for a cup of tea, bread and melted butter with honey.

Remember that, if you’re a man, you shouldn’t try to interact with a nomad woman on her own. If you want to be invited for a cup of tea, you’ll have to wait until her husband or brother arrives. If you’re a woman, indeed you are free to interact with the woman and the little nomad girls.

8-Native flora

Desert fauna in Morocco

Desert flora in Morocco

Although all this region is deserted, some vegetation thrives and gives some colored tones to the monotonous volcanic rock.

Desert fauna in Morocco

Desert flora in Morocco

Desert fauna in Morocco

Desert flora in Morocco

Desert fauna in Morocco

Desert flora in Morocco

Desert fauna in Morocco

Desert flora in Morocco

Desert fauna in Morocco

Desert flora in Morocco

Desert fauna in Morocco

Desert flora in Morocco


If you like this page, you may also find interesting:

ยซ Sahara Desert nomadic life – Nomads of Morocco ยป




Visual artist shares inspiring photos and exotic travel destinations. Adventure travel blogger with ideas and narratives to motivate independent travelers and audacious backpackers. Intense journeys into more than 126 countries around Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Oceania since 1999. Expat in Morocco - North Africa since 2007, polyglot and proud Lonely Planet Pathfinders blogger.

Leave your comment:

3 Comments. Leave new

Wow, I thought I was moving closer to history and nature when I moved to Arizona. This tops anything I’ve ever seen traveling. It’s amazing. When I see stuff like this I realize that visiting 20 countries is nothing compared what’s really out there.

Reply
Micael Angelo Guedes de Azevedo
July 23, 2016 1:54 pm

Incrรญvel!!!
Continuaรงรฃo!

Reply

haha obrigado Micael! agradeรงo o comentรกrio. Fique atento para mais artigos sobre nรณmadas. Jรก tenho outros no site jรก viu? Abraรงo

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Travel blog featured on:
Nomad Revelations on the Media

Follow Nomad Revelations on Instagram @JOAOLEITAOVIAGENS