The Lamdouar at sunset in autumn

The Lamdouar at sunset in autumn

Less than 20 kilometers west of Rissani lies Lamdouar, a tabular mountain well worth a visit. It’s round, with a hole in the middle, and it’s all situated in the middle of ancient reefs. It served as a refuge for desert caravans, and was later occupied by the French army. Other names of the site: Gara Medouar, Jebel Mudawwar, Jebel Mudaouar or Montagne Ronde in French.

To get there, leave the town in the direction of Tazzarine and Alnif. After about 15 km, there’s an octagonal sign indicating a FAR (Forces Armées Royales) firing zone, and a few metres further on, a track turns off towards the mountain, which can be seen in the distance. Follow this track for almost four kilometers to reach the foot of the round tabular mountain. Up to here, it’s passable with any rental car. A track passes through the gate and climbs to the top of the mountain, but it’s in very poor condition, especially the access ramp, which is covered with bits of steel protruding from the disintegrating reinforced concrete.

The large wall closes the Lamdouar’s only large opening. It is over three metres thick. This natural shelter was used by camel caravans to take refuge from sandstorms.

This road is only accessible by 4×4, and the trickiest part is the ramp leading up to the entrance gate.

Not much remains of these installations on the summit, apart from a few walls. On the other hand, the surface of the mountain is dotted with fossil-hunting holes.

View to the south-west and the less accessible ridge of Montagne Ronde.

There’s also an opening on the east side, but it’s blocked by this wall. However, it’s not easy to climb up or down this side.

This mountain is of the mesa type, i.e. a mountain with a flat back or summit, mostly formed by ancient reefs transformed into limestone banks (layers). The tabular mountain to the west of Rissani is hollow and round, forming a kind of crater. This is limestone country, so it’s not a volcano. There is an opening, but it’s closed off by a thick wall. From the top, there’s a superb view over the plain and surrounding reefs.

Views to the east follow below. These large limestone benches seem to have been installed by men and resemble a bicycle track. This plain is a FAR (Forces Armées Royales) firing zone.

A tabular mountain is a mountain composed of limestone layers that remain more or less horizontal. Of course, other layers often lie beneath. In this case, one of these lower layers emerges around the northern perimeter of Lamdouar, some 500 m from the mountain’s base. This kind of base edge only rises a few metres above the general ground level.

View to the southeast. A few palm trees lost in the autumn evening light give a good impression of the desert south of Morocco. Several reef plates emerge from the ground.

Dromedaries graze a bit like goats, except that they are much faster and move around a lot. To keep up with them, shepherds use mountain bikes.

Dromedaries graze on the desert plain near Rissani. Photo © André M. Winter

Dromedaries graze on the desert plain near Rissani. Photo © André M. Winter

Here we are on a track inside the outer ridge around Montagne Ronde. A Fiat Palio, with its good ground clearance, can pass almost anywhere. The limestone layer at the bottom is barely above ground and is about 200 m from the foot of the mountain.View to the north. This ridge is only a few metres high and is about 760 m above sea level.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that there aren’t any street vendors 20km from a town and 5 minutes before sunset. Unable to sell us their pebbles, they asked us for water so they could cycle home.

As the sun set on the horizon, we rode towards Rissani, reaching the town in just a few minutes.

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