The Dadès and Todra gorges… .

There’s nothing I like more than rocky landscapes and gorges and you get two for the price of one with the Dadès and Todra gorges in between Ouarzazate and Tinghir along the N10.  After scorching weather in Ouarzazate we were looking forward to cooling down a bit on higher ground. When we turned off the N10 onto the R704 into the Dadès valley the weather started to look a bit grim.  The drive was spectacular though through the red rocky Kasbah strewn landscape.

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Driving through the Dadès valley.

We’d planned to get as far as Camping Auberge de la Montagne which was about thirty or so kilometres up through the valley.  The further up through the valley we got the wind appeared and then it started to rain.

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Higher up it started to rain.

We’d passed numerous French vans coming back down through the valley and started to wonder if they knew something that we didn’t.  Was there mega rainfall forecast?  The only weather forecast I look at is what is presented to me out of the van window so I didn’t have a clue.  We pressed on anyway as it is a good road and just hoped for the best.  The last part before getting to the campsite was the most spectacular and you’ll often see pictures of it in guidebooks.  The road zig zags up the hillside through the gorge with the view of a spectacularly located hotel within your sights.  Even in the rain it was superb.  Once up and over the hill it was just a few kilometres of wiggly road and a quick squeeze through a narrow bit to get to the campsite set behind a small guest house.

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The last bit before the campsite was narrower with an overhanging rock but fine to drive.

What a setting.  After temperatures pushing thirty degrees in Ouazazate it was a shock to step out of the van into rain and single digit degrees.  Whilst checking in at reception I asked if it was possible to get to the top of the Todra gorge without having to backtrack down to the main road again.  The Dadès and Todra gorges rise up into the High Atlas and are linked by the P7104.  I had hoped we’d be able to go up through the Dadès gorge along the R704 then swing a right onto the P7104 for forty kilometres or so to the village of Tamtattouchte where we could then swing another right to take us down through the Todra gorge. I didn’t really believe it would be possible in a motorhome as this is Morocco after all but I do like to dream a bit. The receptionist gave me a pained expression and advised that it probably isn’t doable without a 4×4 especially with the rain.  Tim had already decided that he’d quite like to live to fight another day and that we wouldn’t be going any further anyway so it was immaterial really.

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Camping Auberge de la Montagne.  We were joined later by a French van.

Anyway, we got up early the following day to walk the route we’d driven to be able to take it all in.  The rain had cleared and we were back to clear sunny skies.

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The view back down the valley.

Unlike countries in Europe there aren’t many signed walking routes in Morocco as leisure isn’t very high up on the agenda for ninety nine percent of the people as they need to work so our options for walking have generally been through the palmeries, along stony unsigned tracks, across rocky landscapes or along the roads.

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The hotel at the top has quite a nice view!

It didn’t really matter here though as there was little traffic and the views were magnificent.

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Looking back over the ziggy zaggy bit from the garden of the hotel.

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The hotel blends in pretty well.

We could see little figures down below us on the craggy cliffs gathering herbs or tending their goats.  On the way back we were approached by a little boy of about seven who was with I presume his sister looking after a flock of goats.  It was another of those uncomfortable what is the best thing to do moments as he was asking us for money.  When we said no he indicated that we could take photos of him (presumably for a payment) but that felt even worse for me.  They were quite clearly desperately poor and have next to nothing.  Again, it was one of those situations that you very rarely have to wrestle emotionally with in Northern Europe and throws up so many questions without any clear answers.

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For livestock, stores or people?  Not sure.
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The narrow section before the campsite looking better on a sunny day.

Driving back down through the gorge we stopped for the night at the parking area at the side of the road of the little cafe run by Hamou and Aicha. It was listed on the Park4night app. It’s free to park overnight and they don’t ask you to buy anything but are happy if you do.

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We ordered a meal for the evening and Hamou came out to get us when it was ready.  They were so welcoming and showed us upstairs to a brightly coloured room next to their kitchen with a view of the rocks beyond.  Aicha served our meal complete with her baby strapped to her back :).  What a great experience.

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Our meal overlooking ‘des doigts du singes’.

It’s definitely worth stopping for a walk in this area as the rock formations known locally as ‘canyon des doigts du singes’ (canyon of the monkeys fingers) are just bizarre.

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P1150903.JPGI’ve never seen anything quite like them before.

 

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P1150912.JPGThere look to be a few footpaths here for walking and a small campsite with great views across to the rocks opposite where we would maybe spend a few nights if we were to come again.

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Camping Pattes de Singes – we didn’t stay there but would stay if we visited again as the views were superb.

To get to the Todra gorge then we backtracked down to the N10 as far as Tinghir turning off left onto the RN12 up through the valley.

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Through the Todra valley.
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A wooly blockade.

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Another layby – another purchase.  Yes, I know I look completely redic but the seller insisted on dressing me up and taking a photo even after I’d agreed to buy something (just the turquoise headscarf).  Tim had sloped off by this point.

We picked out Camping Atlas as a good spot to spend a couple of nights as it was about six kilometres short of the narrow and very touristy bit of the gorge.  It was a really good choice.  Set behind a small hotel it has room for about ten vans, has a pool, washing machine and excellent showers.

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Camping Auberge Atlas.

We took a walk up to the gorge through the palmeries but without the maps.me app to guide us we would never have found the route.

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A walk through the palmeries.

P1150951.JPGAs it was we abandoned it halfway and walked the rest along the road as it became a bit tedious trying to find the route all the time.  Our guide book advises that the best time to visit the gorge is in the morning when the rays of sunshine break through the three hundred metre high cliffs on either side.

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The approach to the gorge.

It’s probably nice and quiet then too.  We got there at about three in the afternoon and I can’t deny it is spectacular but every man and his dog was there to see it with us.

P1150965.JPGAs it is so accessible there’s room for several coaches and tour buses that can park up in the gorge making it really popular.

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The following day (which was supposed to be a day of repose but I changed my mind) we took a cycle up through the gorge heading for Tamtattouchte village about twenty six kilometres away.

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A whole lot of no-one after the narrow section.

Once through the popular thin bit of the gorge we practically had the whole place to ourselves.  What a great bike ride.

P1150974.JPGAfter two hours of climbing we stopped at the top of a steep slow climb about five kilometres short of Tamtattouchte village and called it a day as we were both a bit done in.

P1150981.JPGAfter a quick snack we flew back freewheeling most of the way not having realised on the way up what a steady gradient it had been.

P1150983.JPG The following morning we backtracked to Ouarzazate to spend the night before heading to Aït Ben Haddou for a look at the Kasbah.

نتلقاو!

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bonvanageblog

We are Jane and Tim and we recently gave up our jobs and rented out our house to persue a life of travel across Europe in our motorhome called Ollie.

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