Lake Iriki National Park
Lake Iriki National Park Or also called Iriqui National Park is Morocco’s largest National Park, it was created in 1994, Iriqui National Park was established to protect the biodiversity, flora, and fauna across 123,000 hectares of south-eastern Morocco, and in particular to preserve the temporary wetlands of Lake Iriqui, at the heart of the desert.
lays between the Draa River and the foothills of the south Anti-Atlas near the Algerian border. 150 km south of Ouarzazate and 80 km southwest of Zagora.
This lake is nowadays mostly dry. It was the favorite place of southern gazelles. The park consists of desert landscapes. The vegetation is characterized by a wooded steppe and acacia savanna.
The only families settled within the park are the one near the mountain walls of the Jebel Bani in a village called Zaouia sidi Abdenabi, the rest of the entire population of the area are nomadic, practising transhumance along the circuit Figuig – Tan Tan. The lake area offers the best grazing site for their animal stock (goat, donkey, dromedary).
Zaouia sidi abdennabi, a small village with few famillies. they depend mainly on agriculture and breeding. (goats, camels ….), the village has interesting history, an old ksar and marabout of sidi abdenabi according to the old man of the village, they are all descendants of the idrissids, who were an Arab Muslim Dynasty in Morocco, ruling from 788 to 974. Named after the founder, Idris I, the Idrisids were an Alid and Hasanid dynasty, descended from Muhammad.
There is a Nomad school for the children built by an associtaion around 12 km far from the village Zaouia. Near the school some nomad tents and a big well for water.
Iriki national park has a fascinating changing landscape from dry, green, rocky and oasis. The area’s vegetation is characterised by arid savannah with acacia trees and, amongst the dunes, tamarisk trees. The park is home to one of the largest acacia forests in North Africa. and its wildlife has the dorcas gazelle, fennec fox and the houbara bustard (an endangered species, hunted for sport), amongst a variety of other bird species and reptiles. Other rare Saharan species are said to be expected to be reintroduced into areas from which they were previously wiped out.
Things to do in Lake Iriki National Park
The rich landscape and cultural heritage of the region gives the park an important ecotourism potential that will be a lever for local economic development.
- 4×4 desert trails
4×4 track to the biggest sand dunes of Erg Chegaga 3bid lya, and visiting the sacred oasis foum laaleg with changing sceneray and landscape. Visiting a Nomad family and discovering their lifestyle, taste their sand bread that this region is famous for, after that continue the drive to the center of lake iriki, perfect for offroad driving and is the route for many ralleys.
- Desert camping
Camping in the desert is a wholly unique experience for outdoor adventurers – the other-worldly landscapes, the wildlife, the stars (the stars are mind-boggling on a clear night!). in lake iriki national park there many ergs (erg lmhazil, erg lghoul, 3bid lya ….) where you find diffrent ranges of desert camps from standard to luxury camps.
- trekking across the Lake Iriki National Park
Every traveler visiting Morocco simply has to visit and experience the Sahara desert and this can be done in many ways, trekking in the Sahara is going off the beaten path, further than any tour bus can reach and experience the real and authentic Sahara desert. you can book desert trekking tours with local experts.
- Walk in the dunes
Enjoy the tranquility of the sahara desert and walk among the sand dunes, wake up early to witness the sunrise, and don’t miss the sunset.
How to get to iriki national park
From Marrakech head south to ouarzazate direction passing by taznakht arriving to foum zguid, to join the Iriqui National Park which can be reached via the trail starting at point (30.060216, -6.869288). You leave the pavement for a stony path along the Jbel Madouer Kbir and Sghir to reach Lake Iriqui which is located between the towns of Foum Zguid and M’hamid El Ghizlane. Book your bivouac in the National Park to spend the night there.
Tours to Lake Iriki National Park