Southeast of Tafraoute is the pretty oasis of Afella-Ighir. Leave Tafraoute on the Aguerd-Oudad road, turning left a few kilometres south of the village, and travel roughly 25km over a mountain pass through Tlata Tasrirte to the start of the dramatic Aït Mansour Gorges. You can see the Pierres Bleues from the road up to the pass, which is often foggy and sometimes snowed over in winter.
You can drive through the gorges in a normal car if it hasn’t rained, but walking or mountain biking is the best way to appreciate this atmospheric area, where red cliff faces tower above the palms.
Follow the road through a string of villages perched above the oasis, until you reach the T-junction in Gdourt after about 8km. Turn right here for Tiznit or to loop back to Tafraoute. Turning left, the next village is Souq El Had Issi, a rather depressing settlement that accommodates workers from the nearby gold mine. From Souq El Had Issi, the road leads south to Aït Herbil. After about 12km, there are some impressive rock carvings in Ukas, although you need a guide to find them.
A turn-off 1km beyond Souq El Had Issi leads 5km northeast to the village of Tiwadou. In a 4WD, you can continue from Tiwadou through the Timguilcht Gorges to Tlata Tasrite (about 20km). At the time of writing, it was not possible to drive this circuit in a 2WD vehicle, as the road disintegrates after Tanrarte; the tarred road was being extended, so it should be possible in the future.
Contact Houssine Laroussi at Au Coin des Nomades in Tafraoute to book accommodation in these areas and also confirm bus details from Tafraoute.