Tinerhir, Todra Gorge, Dades Gorge

Trip Start Jan 24, 2008
Trip End Jan 29, 2008

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hey, we did awake after all;)...or better to say only me to take some sunrise photos. Of course we couldn't see which landscape we were going through yesterday night, so this was the first time I could be amazed how nice it really was. The sun began to floodlight the red mountains on the horizon and after having kissed even our car, we decided to move on even more to the east to Tinerhir.
The road goes just straight on through absolute moon-like landscape. Nice place to drive the maximum speed of the car;). The only cracks in the moonscape is where there are oasis with palms. Around them, cities are usually built. The shades are still getting shorter and about 9 o'clock we arrive at Tinerhir, a starting point for a drive to Todra Gorge. But before reaching the actual rocks, one has to drive along a valley with a marvelous oasis full of kasbas and palms. Hard to describe, who didn't see will not believe;). At the end of it, we arrive to the mouth of a 300m high gorge, a famous climbing region. Agains all the odds, it's actually possible to drive through it! After about 500m the gorge becomes a just a very steep valley, but still it's pretty magnificient. The road goes on and on, until it is suddenly flushed away by (now dry) river. OK, let's see how well Dacia deals with jeep tracks;). Although it's exciting to drive on eroded roadway and through the riverbed for some time, we unfortunately don't have the whole day for it.

In about 20 minutes we're back at the mouth of the gorge where we give a lift to some guy who is in fact a climbing guide for this region. He says something about Tinerhir being a nice oasis and so we decide to have a break there. A positive thing for sure is that there are no tourists in the city at all. And by the way, all the country south from Marrakech is actually a Berber country and not an Arabic one. Quite interesting, according to that man Berbers are not quite the real Muslims. Nevertheless, this man takes us through the town center and beyond it to a real palm oasis. There, all the land is divided into many small irrigated fields and is really the only place where agriculture can be practised. At the end of our visit, he invites us to his home for a tea. It is actually quite nice and the tea is good, although the main purpose of the visit is to offer us some carpets his wife makes.

So off we go again, this time back to Boumalne du Dades to see another marvel of nature - Dades Gorge. We're getting pretty short of time so we are forced to just drive through it. But nevertheless it's again a part of the Earth worth to remember. A rather open and very ragged valley is filled with old kasbahs, bare trees and unbelievable rock formations. Again, hard to describe and thus I let the pictures speak;).

It's already 2 pm and we really need to get back. The last train, which leaves from Marrakech for Fes at 7 pm, is impossible to catch, so we hope to succeed in getting on the last 9 pm train for Rabat [at least]. Because of this reason I dedide to test my limits and have a 6 hour long race to Marrakech [since you're reading these lines by now, we've survived, Allah akbar]. There are some events that try to spoil it, such as police roadblocks. Again, I'm being stopped and said I was driving too fast and asked for 400dh. This assertion is actually correct, but I don't see any radar nearby and so I try to argue about it. They probably know the same and, quite unbelievably, finally let me go for free;).
The way back to Ouarzazate is so beautiful that we're forced to take some more pictures, but after Ouarzazate, we drive nonstop. The mountains are really a challenge and it's impossible to drive the 150km of them in less than 3 hours at no way. While cutting all the narrow turns in the mountains I thought I'm driving really dangerously fast, but only until I met a truck driving the same style as me;). Cool driver, he could win some prizes for sure.
Then, still in the mountains, it gets dark, but there's no time to lose. But actually the worst thing is high speed driving out of the mountains near Marrakech, where there are unlighted vehicles on the way. All's well that end well, at 20.10 we finally reach the airport in Marrakech and return the car. I really have to say that the car was really good, although we returned it with a bit damaged suspension because of the offroad driving;). The car rental guy here is a real businessman [studied marketing in Bulgaria;)] and gives us a ride to the railway station, for 10e, huh. And there, at 20.45, we really caught the train to Rabat (112dh), happy happy. Sleeeep.
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