Goodbye desert……….

Sunday 16th December

Grand entrance arch to Rissani village

We left the desert, somewhat reluctantly I might add, to press on towards the High Atlas Mountains which we could soon see offering tantalizing glimpses of their snow capped peaks in the distance. The road was bad for most of the day, we went through many oasis towns with their ramshackle buildings, it really is hard to tell what is being built (and maybe abandoned) or falling down. We passed many loaded donkeys and as we neared our destination, many berber women with their backs laden with produce. We stopped by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere to put the camera battery on charge and within seconds of pulling over we had 10 or more children and an old lady (she was probably in her 30’s but she looked old!) round the van asking for money. Much of the landscape was arid and barren but occasionally, pockets of fertile land appeared, for instance on a seemingly barren hillside we saw hundreds of bee hives. I got told off by a policeman….I saw in the distance a very heavily laden lorry so as we approached I took a photo of it. I hadn’t realized it was at a police road block. The policeman flagged us down and asked if I had taken a picture of him, I showed him the image and as he was in it he said I had to delete it and he watched me do so!

Start of the Todra Gorge

Eventually we arrived at the Todra Gorge, a massive cleft dividing the High Atlas and the Jebel Sarhro. We were told beforehand that the road was bad…this was no exaggeration, pot holed and flood damaged we crept along at a slow pace onwards and twistingly upwards for 26 kilometres to the campsite at Tamtattouchte. The views on the way up were breathtaking, I felt sorry for the driver who couldn’t really appreciate it properly! The sun was just setting so we saw fabulous pink rock and shadows. Much of the time the stream bed was dry but with boulders the size of bungalows strewn along it. It must be an awesome sight when it is running.
Ahhhhh, at last a clean and tidy campsite. Clean toilets, clean showers, rubbish bins emptied about 4 times a day…..brilliant! It really is very well run, we had a meal in the restaurant in the evening, all of the group ate together and then the staff brought out musical instruments to entertain us. Not our kind of music but when in Morocco!!!!
As we are staying here for two nights and then retracing our steps, we get a chance to see the gorge again in the morning with the light in a different direction. The base of the gorge is lined with stalls selling all sorts of “stuff”. If you were to stop you would be bombarded by requests to buy so it’s not really practical to stop for photo’s.
Monday was spent washing and drying and getting the van clean and tidy by me, while Nigel went on a 45k bike ride which included 2000 feet of ascent. He was rather tired when he got back, but he didn’t put it quite so politely. Both dogs are a little lame so we didn’t over exercise them here, they were quite content lying on their sleeping bag in the sun whilst I pottered about. However, I took them for a walk around the village for an hour in the afternoon and came back with a bit of a complex….all the children and young people (and there were many) that I saw, looked at us and burst out laughing!
The cycle ride

Extra pictures…..

Todra Gorge

Hillside house

Tomorrow we are setting off to Ouarzazate (pronounced Wozerzatt) and then it is only one day’s more drive to Marrakesh.

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  1. Anonymous

    Love the blog, very entertaining- yo should write a book! Keep up the good work love steph x

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