Chefchaouen…the blue city…. .

We had planned to head to Casablanca on the Atlantic coast after we left Ouzoud but we changed our minds the night before we left.  As much as it would have been nice to see the Grand Mosque and art deco buildings of Casablanca we really didn’t fancy another city break.  As we wanted to see Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains in the North before we ended our tour of Morocco we went straight up the middle via Azrou and Mèknes.  It’s about a 550 kilometre drive so we chopped it up with a couple of stops in between.

We back tracked to Azrou stopping for a couple of nights at Camping Emirates and visited the weekly market again which, under wall to wall sunshine, was twice as busy and mad as the first time we visited.

Camping Emirates, Azrou.

We had another mooch about in Mèknes finding, this time, an even more ancient souk area which reminded us of some parts of Fèz.  We stayed again at Camping Bellevue north of Mèknes where Tim did another deal with the hat seller.  A pair of boots for another knitted hat this time.  You can never have too many woolly hats.

So the N13 then led us through the Rif mountains to Chefchaouen.     It was raining.  As it often does in lumpy areas.  We couldn’t complain though as it was the first real rain we’d had in over ten weeks in the country.  Coming back to the north felt different.  It almost felt like we’d just arrived in the country and were experiencing the culture shock we’d experienced on our first few days in Morocco all those weeks ago.  I don’t know, it’s hard to put my finger on why we felt as if we’d just arrived in the country.  It could have just been down to the weather.  The landscape is certainly a spectacularly lush, green area with a variety of different mountainous landscapes.  It’s predominantly an agricultural area and is well known for its production of cannabis which grows really well on the hillsides in the region.  It’s illegal of course but it’s a staple form of income for local families in an otherwise very poor area.  Maybe it was just that we saw more donkeys per square metre than anywhere else in Morocco!

The only campsite in Chefchaouen is right at the top of the town and it’s advisable not to follow your satnav to get there.  It’s a municipal campsite more like an aire really.  There are small places to camp under the trees on the hillside but anything bigger than a VW van needs to park on the flat bit which fills up by the end of the day with everyone squeezing in where they can.

The municipal campsite at Chefchouen…….before it got busy later in the day.

It’s popular because Chefchaouen is popular and it’s just a five minute walk to the top end of the medina.

P1170054.JPGChefchaouen…………known as the blue city……………oh yes, it’s definitely blue.

P1170053.JPGWhy?  No idea!  I had to consult google for the answer.  There seems to be no definitive answer.


Blue was introduced by early Jewish settlers as it represents the sky and reminds people of heaven and God.

P1160990.JPGBlue keeps mosquitos away.


Blue helps keep homes cool.


Blue represents the colour of the Mediterranean sea.


Blue looks nice.


Blue attracts tourists.


In truth it’s probably a mish mosh of all of the above.

P1170007.JPGWhatever the reason it appealing.

P1170021.JPGEven though it is really touristy it has a really nice feel to it within the medina.


It’s more relaxed than other medina’s largely I think because its set on a steep hillside with plenty of steps making it inaccessible to mopeds, bikes and handcarts which makes it feel much quieter and calmer.





P1170057.JPGWe spent three nights chilling in Chefchaouen as it looked a good place to do a bit of walking.  Unfortunately, Tim had the onset of a migraine (it was probably seeing all that blue) so I left him in peace and decided to take a walk up to the summit Jbel el Kelaa, the hill behind the campsite, as there seemed to be a good track leading directly from the campsite to the top and then back down the other side.  I think the writing was on the wall that it wasn’t one of my best ideas as soon as I’d left the campsite.  A young guy lounging on the wall opposite the campsite tried to get my attention just as I started my walk.  I waved but carried on.  He went off into the trees but appeared again a few hundred metres further on up the track.  He tried to get me into a conversation with the usual patter.  Allemagne? Hollondaise?  Francaise? Blah, blah.  I ignored him and he eventually gave up and sloped off backed towards the campsite.  After passing the local rubbish dump a kilometre into the walk the views opened up across the landscape and were superb.

The views towards the north.

Several cars had passed me as the track is driveable but a couple of kilometres further on after I’d gone past a couple of houses I began to feel a bit ill at ease.     Four young men were trailing in my wake a couple of hundred metres behind.  I tried to not let it disconcert me as they may well have just been walking to the next village a few kilometres away.  A bit further on though two young men were coming down the track towards me and one of them started to chat to me.  I wasn’t going to be drawn in.  Again, he left me alone after a minute or so but I still had the four behind. Fortunately I spotted two lady shepherds tending their flock of goats a few hundred metres away so I made my way towards them, sat down on a rock close by and pondered my situation.  It’s the first time I’d felt ill at ease in Morocco but then, other than my cycle and walk at Tafraout, Tim and I had gone everywhere together.  We were also in cannabis country where money can be made selling it to tourists.  Tim had been asked twice if he wanted to buy cannabis on the first day we were there.  Whatever their intentions were I decided to give up on my quest for the summit and marched back down the hill to the campsite in a ‘don’t even think about messing with me’ kind of way.  Even then I was approached twice!

We had van envy when our German neighbours arrived.  They’d not long started an eighteen month tour of Africa.

So after Chafchouen the pull of fish and chips and a bumper pack of Morrisons pork pie’s from good old Gib was just too much to put off any longer.  We had a night in Martil (could have been in Spain) on the coast before heading to Tanger Med for the ferry.

Campsite on the coast at Martil.

As we had an open return ticket there was no need to book.  We just presented our ticket at the Trasmediterranea office at the port and were issued boarding passes for the next ferry leaving.  We’d hoped to be on time for the ten o’clock ferry but it took a bit longer than anticipated getting to the port from Martil.  We drove onto the ferry after the various checkpoints and an x-ray of the van at eleven o’clock.  I’m not sure if it was the ten o’clock ferry or the one o’clock as we left at twelve o’clock!

So, that ended our first tour of Morocco.

Eleven weeks.  2607 Miles.

A very successful trip me thinks.


Cascade d’Ouzoud…. .

After Marrakech, Camping Zebra on the outskirts of Ozoud was the perfect place for a regroup, a relax and a bit of peace and quiet.

Corner pitch at Camping Zebra in Ouzoud.

The campsite is very well maintained with a cafe and seating area to relax in as well as great views if you can bag a pitch towards the back of the site.

Views from our pitch………………..until another van took the pitch in front later in the day.

The Cascades d’Ouzoud are Morocco’s highest waterfall and just a fifteen minute walk from the campsite.  At 110 metres high they are pretty impressive and very easily accessible from the town.

The top of the falls with a new hotel being built in the background.

P1160844.JPGThe town itself sits above the falls and has the usual cafes and touristy shops.  After a breakfast of pancakes and coffee at one of the cafes we had a gander at the falls before taking a footpath which follows the direction of the river downstream on the eastern side for a couple of kilometres.

Just a chain stops anyone from going over the edge and most people go over it anyway to take pictures.

There are several paths leading down to the river.  As it was still early (before 11 o’clock) most of the cafes and little makeshift shops were still closed or in the process of opening up.

Taking the path down to the bottom of the waterfall on the east side of the river.

Some were hoping to catch the early birds and already had all their wares out on display. It was a good time to visit.

Some sellers had set out their wares early.


Spot the macaque.
Cafes further down the valley.

P1160873.JPGTowards the end of the footpath where the river converges with another one we acquired a guide.  Aouiss appeared out of the last cafe on the path and asked if we wanted to have a tajine for lunch.  Telling him we had already eaten didn’t deter him as he skipped alongside us giving a running commentary on the area, the river, Berbère life etc.  We didn’t really need a guide but as he indulged me in speaking French even though he could speak English well enough we let him lead us to wherever he intended on leading us knowing that the tour wouldn’t be ‘free’.  I was happy to have a bit of French practice and he did take us to see some rock formations which had been sculpted by the river over millennia which we probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Some of the rock formations that our guide led us to.

There was a bit of scrambling and climbing to do which posed no problems to our ‘guide’ as he had the agility of a goat whereas we had trouble keeping up.


After our impromptu tour Aouiss proposed that we cross the river and he’d take us on a tour to a traditional berbère village and then back to see the falls from several different viewpoints before returning to Ouzoud.  As it was going to take a couple of hours I thought we’d better agree a price before we set off.  You’d think that it would be a simple thing to do but it’s easier said than done here.  After a conversation along the lines of ‘money come, money go, you enjoy, I share with you, I am happy to share, we are Bebères, you see, you enjoy, we look, I show you, we see ancient village, is very good, we want to share our culture, all my family are Bebères, we have no frontiers, money is not important, money come, money go, you see good things, we are friends, if after you offer something, I am happy, you are happy, everyone is happy, no problem’ we were no further forward so we just went with it, took off our shoes and made our way across the river.

Tim was so pleased to have to cross the river.  Not!

Aouiss took off up the hill the other side like a rat up a drainpipe whilst we huffed and puffed trying to keep up.


The hills are alive……

It was spectacular though and the paths we took weren’t marked on our map and neither was the village that we visited and I still don’t know the name of it as it’s not named on google maps either.

The traditional Berbere village where we had tea.

It was great to see the traditionally built pisé houses in the village as there wasn’t any development with any of the concrete block style of housing.  We stopped for tea there whilst Aouiss smoked cannabis from a home made pipe and talked to us about how the village had only just had running water installed into the houses in the last seven months.  Before that ladies and children collected water from a tap at the edge of the village.

P1160913.JPGThe king had visited Ouzoud a few years ago and had commissioned the hotel to be built that was in the third picture of this blog post and also for a new mosque for the village that we visited.  The mosque has taken just two years to complete.


P1160915.JPGDropping down the hill from the village we were introduced to one of the farmers who was busy ploughing one of the little terraces with the help of two donkeys.  Then it was a climb back up to see the falls from afar.

The village in the background from the other side of the valley.
Teenage boys were tending their goats and gathering thyme.
The falls from afar.
It’s a popular day trip and holiday destination for Moroccans too.


All in all we were with Aouiss for three hours and we’d really enjoyed the walk which turned out to be a good work out trailing behind in his wake.  We stopped a few hundred metres from the campsite where our guide turned to us and asked if we had enjoyed the tour.  When we said we had he said ‘ok, then we are all happy with €40’.  Eh?  €40?  Where did that come from?  What happened to ‘we are happy if you offer something at the end?’  Mmm, it seemed we were at cross purposes.  Basing the price on our tour of Fèz which lasted six hours and included transport to and from the campsite and cost us €35, ten percent of which probably has to go to the campsite because the guide has exclusive access to the campers, I had thought €20 would have been more than a fair price for a three hour impromptu tour on foot.  In the end we agreed on €20 and he went away with a few clothes that we had left from our bag of stuff.  It hadn’t been an unpleasant exchange at the end and he wasn’t in the least bit threatening but I did feel a little disappointed with the way he’d gone about it especially as we had tried to agree a set price before the tour proper had started.  Still, we were still happy that we’d seen some of the countryside and a bit of village life that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen.


When we saw how busy it was at the falls in the afternoon after our walk we decided to have a look at the falls from the other side of the river in the early morning.  A path, lined with cafes and shops, zigzags down the hill to the bottom of the falls.


You don’t realise there are so many until you walk down through them all.  It was sad to see a fair bit of litter around and it all had a bit of a shabby look to it.  The shopkeepers try to keep their areas clean and tidy and litter free and even sweep the earth in some cases.

Freshly swept earth in front of the cafe at the bottom of the falls.

Bearing in mind the access is limited and things can only be brought in and out by foot or by hoof it would be great if people took their litter away with them.

Bread delivery.

Everyone has pockets or a bag and it would be an easy thing to do.  Hey-ho.

Our guide had told us there are two troupes of Macaque’s.  One troupe hang around near the top of the falls awaiting food from humans and the other troupe keep to themselves and feed on the olives and acorns.

P1160969.JPGOur intention after Ouzoud had been to head back to the coast north of Casablanca to follow the Atlantic back to Tanger Med but as we didn’t fancy any more large cities we decided to go up the middle via Azrou and Meknès again.

Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains is in our sights before heading back to Spain.

ⴰⵔ ⵜⵉⵎⵍⵉⵍⵉⵜ!

Marrakech…. .

Nine weeks ago we would never have even considered driving into central Marrakech to spend a couple of nights at a guarded car park just outside the medina walls.  When I suggested it to Tim I never expected him to shrug and say ‘yep, no problem’.  All the campsites are between ten and fifteen kilometres outside the city and, unless we wanted to do a bit of a dog leg, we would have had to drive almost into the city anyway.  The closest guarded parking is within spitting distance of the Katoubia Mosque and just a five or ten minute walk to the famous Place Jemaa el-Fna.  The drawback is that it’s busy with cars coming and going every hour of the day.  The park4night app indicated another car parking area just a little further away just outside the city walls which looked and sounded less busy.  We got there without incident.  The traffic builds up at around the six kilometre mark outside the city but wasn’t as horrendous as we’d imagined.

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The build up of traffic on the way into the city.

It was about midday so not the busiest time of day but it is a bit of a free for all especially at traffic lights where petit taxis will creep up the inside in the cycle lane to get to the front of the queue.  Oh, and there’ll be scooters, mopeds and bikes galore filling up any spare gap to be filled.  We had two incidents of a moped pulling alongside at the traffic lights with the rider trying to engage Tim in a bit of chit chat.  We knew they were trying to get us to follow them to a campsite and charge us for their services as we’d read about such events on the Ourtour blog.  It happened on our way out of Fèz too.  After being ignored for a few minutes they turned around and rode off into the oncoming traffic.

Outside the walls of the city just getting close to our parking spot.

Once at the parking we paid our fifty dirhams a night (£4.00) and settled in on the tarmac.  There was plenty of space so we didn’t have cars coming and going past us all day.

Our park up spot a fifteen minute walk from the centre of Marrakech.

It goes without saying it was noisy as it’s adjacent to four lanes of traffic but it was a five minute walk to a Carrefour supermarket and still only a fifteen minute walk to where the action is. Perfect for a night or two.

Three French vans had coralled themselves into a semi circle and had all the tables and chairs out!

Our plans for Marrakech were just to wander aimlessly.  In other words we had no plans for Marrakech.  We weren’t in the market for buying any more carpets and had no plans to start in on any negotiating for pottery, jewellery, ornaments, metalwork, leather, basketry, fabric, drums, clothing, spices or anything else that Marrakech is famous for.  No, we were all shopped out after our last lengthy carpet negotiations.

The walk into town.
Koutoubia Mosque.

The question is how do you manage not to buy anything in a city like Marrakech where you have to weave your way past the most tenacious sellers in the world?  I took the lead from Tim.  Ignore everyone.  It may not be the politest way to go about things but it does work.  Tim is a past master at it.  He finds it much easier than I do as I at least like to smile and say no thank you.

Camel and baby a few minutes walk from where we were parked.

Walking around the souks before midday also helps as it takes a while for Morocco to wake up in the mornings and most sellers look a bit dazed before eleven o’clock.

P1160778.JPGPlace Jemaa el-Fna, a large open area, is the nerve centre of Marrakech and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  The different souks radiate north and east from it.  Our guide book describes how, up to the 19th Century, criminals on death row, were beheaded, their heads pickled and suspended from the city gates.   Sometimes up to as many as forty five per day.  Now the area serves as a market in the mornings selling plants, nuts, confectionary and freshly squeezed fruits.  From late afternoon things change.  Street food stalls are quickly set up with their charcoal grills of billowing smoke.

Place Jemaa el-Fna during the day before it gets busy.
The juice sellers at the Place Jemaa el-Fna.  

There’ll be snake charmers, monkey tamers, musicians, story tellers drawing in the crowds.  We had a wander around in the early evening on our first day in Marrakech.  Call me a party pooper but I really didn’t like it.  Chained monkeys performing for photographs, snakes being manhandled here there and everywhere, a few caged reptiles for sale, henna tattooists touting for business, smoke, fumes from mopeds, noise and crowds of people.

Hand carts for hire (I presume) out side the main souk.

We had planned before our visit to have a meal or coffee on one of the cafe roof terraces above the square so we could have an unencumbered eyeball at all that was going on but in the end we really didn’t fancy it.

Some of the restaurant terraces overlooking Place Jemaa el-Fna.

The following morning we had a very relaxed few hours wandering round all the different souks without any hassle.

P1160788.JPGIt’s not easy to find your way in any of the souks and we did find ourselves in residential areas or at dead ends quite a few times.



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P1160795 (1).JPG
Moroccan men take their personal grooming seriously and there are thousands of tiny barbers shops with just a chair or two inside.

We probably missed some of the souks as I don’t remember seeing basketry, wool or silk but it didn’t matter as there are plenty of other things to be distracted by.

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The most interesting for us is always the metalworking souks where blacksmiths work standing in a hole up to their thighs whilst doing something or other with metal in a furnace alongside.  Everything spills out onto the street and iron is bashed and hammered into shape or welded with all the sparks flying over everyone going past.

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You could find all sorts in this area outside the main walls of the city.

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P1160807 (1).JPGEven though Marrakech is a bit mad and crowded we didn’t feel at all unsafe though. When we got lost people pointed us in the right direction and we didn’t pick up any extra baggage in the form of someone trying to take us on a tour.  We received far less attention than we’d imagined.



Another market outside the walls.

P1160804By the time we got back to the van we felt like we had lungs full of lead though as the mopeds, motorbikes and scooters still drive right through the narrow alleyways of the souks.  The covered souks were the worst and full of fumes.  It all adds to the experience and as a one-off visit its ok but I’m grateful I don’t have to work day in and day out in those conditions.

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Dubious animal transport.

We found the souks of Fès much more fascinating as they had a real medieval feel and we felt like we’d stepped back in time.  Any form of motorised traffic is banned in the main souks of Fès so it’s much better for the lungs as well.

There’s much more to see in Marrakech but after an evening and a day we were happy to escape back to calmer places.  All in all doing Marrakech is a right of passage on any visit to Morocco but I can’t say we would be rushing back.

P1160817 (1)
Sunrise on the RN8 heading east out of Marrakech.

The Cascades d’Ouzoud a one hundred and fifty kilometre drive east beckoned.

ⴰⵔ ⵜⵓⴼⴰⵜ!

Agadir to Essaouira…. .

The first one hundred kilometres of the R105 from Tafraoute back to the coast at Agadir was pretty jaw dropping.

The fortified village of Tioulit.

Epic mountain scenery interspersed with small work a day villages, shepherds tending their flocks, the odd donkey, ladies working patches of scrubby land, distant villages clinging to hillsides, little traffic and lots of bends.  It’s a good road but slow going.

Villages blend in to the scenery.

Once down onto the flatter plains nearer to the coast the traffic and chaos built up again.

The novelty of Agadir drew us in as did the promise of the sale of beer at a supermarket just off the ring road.  Alcohol was indeed on sale in a separate room at the side of the supermarket behind an iron shutter with a gold curtain pulled across it.  If Tim had a tail to wag it would have been wagging.

The campsite at Agadir didn’t disappoint and has definitely earned its many one and two star reviews.  We had been warned so we weren’t complaining.

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Municipal campsite at Agadir.  Electricity didn’t work and there was no water in  the showers.

It’s a municipal campsite just a short walk from the seafront and next door to some newish holiday apartments so I’m guessing it’s just not being maintained as it will eventually be sold off for a new holiday complex.  It felt safe though and was fine for a night.

The pool area.

Although the beach front didn’t really feel like the same Morocco we’ve been seeing it also didn’t feel like being in Europe either as there aren’t any really high rise buildings. The highest reach maybe four or five floors.

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The seafront of Agadir.

We had a very enjoyable stroll along the length of the seafront and back before heading further up the coast.

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P1160648 (1).JPGIt’s really not developed at all in between Agadir and Essaouira and was a pleasant drive.

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The N1 between Agadir and Essaouira.
Ladies doing something with shellfish.  A few children held up bags of them along the roadside trying to sell them.

As there isn’t a campsite at Essaouira we stopped twenty kilometres short at Sidi Kaouki, a low key surfy type of place.

Camping Soleil at Sidi Kaouki.  60 dirhams a night including electric although it’s really only strong enough to run the lights and fridge.  40 dirhams to use the washing machine. Unfinished holiday houses behind obscure the view of the beach.
Camping Le Kaouki Beach next door – has a cafe and looks flashier but doesn’t get great reviews.  I think it’s 95 dirhams a night.

We spent a couple of days relaxing there before taking the bus into Essaouira.

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Sidi Kaouki beach.

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P1160672 (1).JPGAs the ‘regular’ bus failed to show up we decided to take the mini bus instead.  We’ve seen these old mini buses all over Morocco but it was our first time using one.  Once we were on the driver shouted at someone to get out of his seat to let me sit down.  His needs looked greater than mine though so I indicated that I was happy to stand.  You have to shut your eyes to any aspects of health and safety in Morocco and the mini bus is no different.  By the time we’d picked up people on the way I’d counted twenty eight people on the bus.  If you counted children on laps and on the floor squeezed between seats it was probably more.

Mini buses are a vital form of transport for the locals.

A conductor operates the sliding door and takes your fare.  Ten dirhams each (80p).  Frequently the sliding door is left open to let a little air in.  Once the mini bus gets busier the conductor will indicate where he wants someone to stand.  Luggage is put under seats or on laps to make the best use of the available space.  There are no bus stops.  The driver just beeps his horn to let people know he’s coming to give them a chance to indicate whether or not they want to get on.  It’s not much different to getting on the tube in London at rush hour.

Outside the medina in Essaouira.

Essaouira is touristy but fab.  It’s an eighteenth century military port that has a shabby chic charm about it.

P1160683.JPGIt has everything to make a good day out.  A bustling medina, ramparts, a long sandy beach and a fishing port.

DSC07574.JPGAs nothing really gets going in Morroco before the afternoon the medina was a pleasure to stroll around without any hassle except for the occasional ‘come look inside’.






Thuya wood, a dense hardwood, is grown in abundance in the regionand is used to make coffee tables, caskets, statues, boxes, and jewellery.
The drum maker.


P1160695.JPGAfter lunch we mooched down to the fishing port.  It was without doubt the most interesting fishing port we have seen so far.  It’s also pongy, noisy and crowded.


From the 18th century forty percent of Atlantic sea traffic passed through Essaouira.  It was once one of Morocco’s largest sardine ports.

DSC07555We watched in morbid fascination as four sharks were manhandled out of one of the little fishing boats and onto a handcart.

P1160718.JPGIt took four men to lift each one.  The only time I’ve seen anything quite like it is on an episode of Extreme Fishing with Robson Green.

DSC07563.JPGFurther along the quay a trawler was being unloaded.  A lorry full of ice had just arrived and been dumped onto the quayside.

Ice delivery.

P1160747.JPGWe’ve never seen such a hive of activity on a fishing boat before.  Normally you’d see maybe up to three men unloading fish that has already been kept frozen on board.  Here there were up to twenty men on the boat loading trays and dozens more on the quayside.

P1160739.JPGBarbecues were on the go grilling, nets were being repaired, seagulls were swarming, cats, cats and more cats were everywhere.



DSC07599.JPGSo did we buy anything?

The Squala du port (sea bastions) in the south of the town.

No, we’d don’t really do fish!

View towards the medina from the port.


Cafes selling grilled fish outside the port.

We saw the number two bus back to Sidi Kaouki idling just outside the medina walls so made a mad dash to get on it.  Standing room only.  As it turned out there was no rush.  The bus driver was nowhere to be seen.  Half an hour we waited before the bus left.  Gradually every spare space was filled with people and luggage.  One rotund lady decided she wanted to be in the middle of the bus next to a friend so shoved everyone out of the way in her attempt to get there.  Then she decided she needed some more shopping so elbowed her way off again.  Armed with milk and orange juice she jabbed her way to the middle again.  Three times she got off and back on again in that half hour.  Finally she settled in for the journey by budging up a lady sitting in a seat with her two children.  I’ve got to give it to her she was a lady who knew exactly what she wanted and managed to get at least a cheek on the seat.  I’m sure it wouldn’t have been so comical if we had to do the journey every day.  At seven dirhams each (56p) it was as cheap as chips.  It took over an hour though as it makes detours to the airport and other little villages.

P1160765.JPG Tim did enjoy some of his beer stash at the end of it. 

Marrakesh next.


The Aït Mansour gorge…. .

A photo post today of the Aït Mansour gorge.

P1160557.JPG We weren’t the only ones on the way there that day.

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It’s just a thirty kilometre detour south of Tafraoute.


Along good mostly single track road but with plenty of room pullover onto piste to pass other vehicles.


Fortunately you don’t see much traffic.


It was well worth the detour.


Palmeries line the bottom of the valley.


You can stay overnight in the parking area for twenty dirhams.


After the parking area the road gets narrower.


Because there’s hardly any traffic its a pleasant walk.


The frogs are noisy.


Very noisy.


The views are spectacular.


A small community live and work here.


Tourism is starting to make its mark.


A cafe or two have opened up.


New and old together.


What a place.


Back in Tafraoute.


We tried another of the three campsites before heading back to the coast.



مسا لخير!

The Anti Atlas mountain town of Tafraoute…. .

So, we’ve taken up residence at Camping Granite Rose just outside Tafraoute, a small town set in the spectacular scenery of the Anti Atlas mountains.

Camping Granite Rose, Tafraoute.  
To cope with the number of Motorhomers coming to Tafraoute the Mayor of the town has given permission for vans to stay in the palmeries at a cost of 20 dirham a night.
Whilst its appealing it’s also taken away a lot of business from the three campsites already established and there must be a detrimental environmental impact on the palmeries.

We’ve been here for a week now and could probably stay another if there wasn’t so much to see in Morocco before our ninety day visa runs out.

The scenic drive from Tiznit to Tafraoute.

The town itself is fairly compact, busy, bustling and has everything you need but it’s the surrounding countryside that is so appealing here.

Nearer to Tafraoute the road went into single track tarmac but plenty of room to pass other vehicles.

It’s a popular area for climbers but there are plenty of opportunities for walking and cycling which could keep you entertained for a week or two no problem.

P1160368.JPGThe town is touristy but as the town serves as an administrative centre for a large surrounding area it still fulfils the needs of the wider population.

P1160373.JPGBabouches (traditional leather shoes) are the main speciality here with lots of little stalls making and selling them.  One of our guidebooks even mentions the BTT (babouche tout terrain) which are go anywhere footwear with an extra thick sole to cope with the rocky terrain here.

P1160372.JPGOn our first sortie into town we were approached a Berber on a moped grinning from ear to ear.  We can spot a carpet seller a mile off now.  As we were still in the market for a new carpet for the kitchen area we allowed ourselves to be led to his shop around the corner.  And so it was that the carpet show commenced whilst tea was served.  We settled in for the long haul.  I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve explained that we are looking for something petite as we are living an odd kind of life.  Our smiling seller, who said he treats finding the right carpet as a sport, was not deterred.  He layed out carpet after carpet after carpet at our feet.  All too big.  We continued to smile, he continued on his quest.  Finally he came up with something.  I quite liked it but we were still unsure if it would fit or if it would look right.  No problem.  Our seller suggested we take it with us to try out and to come back the next day to talk about prices and to bring with us anything we might have to barter as well.  Even though the Moroccan’s treat selling as an Olympic sport they are also very trusting.  So, we took it back to the van to try on so to speak.  Nope, it wasn’t right.  We went back the next day then armed with the carpet and a motley assortment of unwanted items like clothes, phones and electrical equipment.

Off for my early morning business meeting armed with the carpet and other sundry items to trade.

After breaking it to our seller that the carpet wasn’t right the whole saga started again.  He still couldn’t find anything that was just right even after suggesting he could cut one in half.  No problem.  He walked us to the other side of town to peruse his brother’s carpets!  I’d have given up on us long ago but the Moroccans are made of sterner stuff.

We had the same problem.  Everything was too long.  Out of all the ones he showed us there was just one I thought would look right but it was fifty or sixty centimetres too long.  No problem. It could be cut to the size we want.  I have to say it pained me to think that they were just going to chop a bit off this handmade carpet that had probably taken weeks to make.  But, a sale is a sale.

The husband of the lady who’d made the carpet was brought in to peruse our bag of ‘stuff’ and to take over the negotiating.  The price he started out with and the price we offered were poles apart.  We upped our offer and threw in a couple of old phones.  He dropped his price.  We sucked our teeth.  He left alone us ‘to chat’.  We upped our offer and threw in some shirts, trousers and a fleece.  He came down a bit more on his price.  We sucked our teeth some more.  He left us alone again ‘to chat’.  More clothes were added to the pile and we upped our offer just a tad.  Finally, after what seemed forever, we gave our final offer and reached an agreement.  We came away five hundred dirhams and a bag of clothes lighter but we were happy.  I was glad I didn’t have to see his wife’s face when he went upstairs to ask her to cut the carpet she’d spent weeks labouring over into two pieces and then let her know ‘oh, and by the way, they are coming back at 5.00pm this afternoon to pick up both ends’.  Are we happy with it?  Oh, yes.  Is it beige?  Of course.


P1160632 (1).JPG
Beige, yes, but there is some colour in there.
Variations on a theme of beige and a riot of colour going on with the little carpet with the camel woven into it upfront!  

I don’t think I could furnish a house with Moroccan carpets as it would just be too exhausting.

But, HA-LAY-LOO-YAA, we have now thrown out our old carpets.  Yay!  Tim put them next to the bin outside the campsite.  They’d disappeared within an hour so the old down duvet that we haven’t used for two years went next to the bin as well.  That disappeared too.

Apart from carpet buying we’ve made the most of the excellent weather we’ve had here by getting out and about on foot and by bike.  We had an excellent walk over to the Vallée des Ameln (Valley of Almonds) and came back over some spectacular high plateaus and rocky paths to the campsite.

The path descending into the Valley of Almonds.
The view from the valley floor.
Some restoration going on in one of the villages.
The path led us right through a farm manufacturing kids.
Comig back up our of the valley with stupendous views behind.




A small visllage on the road between Tiznit and Tafraoute

I had made a minor error with the map which added another four kilometres to our already eighteen kilometre walk which Tim forgave me for…………..eventually.

The village five kilometres south of Tafraoute on the Tiznit road was worth a detour.






P1160537.JPGWe cycled out to see Napoleons Hat and the Painted Rocks.

Le Chapeau de Napoleon,
Aguerd Oudad village on the other side of Napoleans Hat.

‘Les Pierres Bleu’ was a huge art project created by Belgian landscape artist Jean Vérame in the mid eighties.


The last few kilometres to the Painted Rocks.

Tons of litres of blue, red and purple paint were used to cover four different areas of rocks.  It looks a bit surreal from a distance but up close it all looks less appealing as the paint has faded and most of the rocks are covered in graffiti.

They look better from a distance.

P1160445.JPGThe views from the area though are immense and well worth the cycle ride to get to them.



On the way back to Tafraoute.

I took a bike ride out to have a look at some of the small Berber villages nestled on the southern slopes of Jbel el Kest in the Vallée des Ameln.

Tasga Ntodm village on the slopes of Jbel el Kest.

It was nice to see some of the old housing being restored.



P1160493.JPGI vaguely remembered reading something about ‘la tête du lion’, a natural rock formation that looks like the head of a lion.  Seeing on my map that it was fairly close to where I’d parked the bike I thought I’d go in search of it.  Whilst on route I was lucky enough to spot a wild boar.  It saw me as soon as I saw it so it shot off before I even had time to think about whipping the camera out.  I wasn’t even aware there were any wild boar in Morocco with it being a pork product free country.  I climbed up the rough rocky path for an hour or so but still couldn’t see anything that resembled a lion’s head.

It was worth the hours climb for the views alone.

After consulting google for a picture of it I was pretty certain I was looking at the right thing but it still looked nothing like the pictures on google images.  Thirty minutes later after having scrambled up this and that rock for a view from a different angle I admitted defeat and thought the images on google had been taken at a different time of day or had been photo shopped.

You can vagely see a lions head…………I think.

Back on the bike and back to the main road through the valley I glanced to my left across to the hillside and there it was.  In all its glory.  Doh!  Unbeknown to me it was in full view on my ride towards the valley.  In fact it can be seen from the campsite.  Oh, how I laughed!

Tada………..La tête du lion.
There he is again through the palms.

Anyway, onwards to the Aït Mansour gorge thirty kilometres away.

The Atlantic coast South of Agadir…. .

All roads heading into the deep South begin at Agadir.  That’s what our guidebook told us.  We just wanted to visit the supermarket.  We just can’t seem to shake off our western habits.  You can take us out of Europe but you can’t take Europe out of us.  Oh, but then maybe you can with Brexit.  Anyway, after three weeks of not being able to drive a trolley Tim was getting withdrawal symptoms.  As per usual it was a shock to get back to a large city again.  Traffic, people, donkeys, carts, mopeds, tuk tuks, vans, lorries everywhere.

We swung into a large parking area behind the Marjane supermarket on the outskirts of Agadir just relieved to have got there.  We’d already decided we weren’t going to stop in Agadir as the only campsite there gets the worst reviews we’ve seen so far.  Out of thirty five reviews on the Park4night App only three were above two stars.  So, we gave it a miss preferring to head further south to a campsite at Sidi Ouassay right behind a beach and close to the Souss Massa National Park.

We did get waylaid by a bustling market just across the road from where we’d parked.  We’ve been to quite a few markets now and all are fascinating in their own way.  Part of this market was a bit like a giant carboot sale except it looked like most of the sellers were camped there permanently and didn’t have any transport save for the odd donkey parked up.  There must have been over a hundred sellers spread out across an area the size of a football pitch or two.  Nearly everything that was for sale was laid out on tarpaulins on the ground.  Everything was second, or third, or fourth or tenth hand and piled in no particular order.  Backs of old television sets, old fridges and electrical items, broken tablets, phones, nuts and bolts, broken taps, odd wheels, loos, more TV remote controls than you can shake a stick at, piles of clothing, shoes in pairs and some alone, trinkets……… short just a mass of stuff.  Things we see no value in have value here.  Next to the giant car boot sale there were several very narrow alleyways lined with a ramshackle assortment of shops made out of corrugated iron and recycled materials selling timber, mattresses, furniture, metal, tools, bikes, old mopeds and household goods, all of them in tall, dark, narrow, cramped spaces.  We didn’t see the seafront in Agadir with its hotels, modern buildings and open spaces but it’s hard to imagine an area so different yet so close to the market we were wandering around.  It gives you much to think about.

After the hustle and bustle of Agadir and a seemingly unending ribbon of buildings lining the RN1 heading south the small coastal village of Sidi Ouassay was like a ghost town.

I’m not sure if it is a holiday destination during the summer but it’s really the first place we have been to that didn’t seem to be lived in or alive with people.

Sleepy Sidi Ouassay.

Just a couple of small shops and plenty of unfinished apartments.

The road to the campsite.

Maybe the money ran out.  The campsite, though, was right behind the beach and had a really good sized swimming pool so we stayed four nights for a regroup and a bit of down time.

Sidi Ouassay Campsite.

The Souss Massa National Park is nearby and we were very fortunate to see seventy or so Bald Ibis whilst taking a walk along the beach to Sidi Rabat.

Bald Ibis.

The Bald Ibis is a threatened species and Morocco is apparently home to half the world’s population.


The beach at Sidi Rabat an hours walk from Sidi Ouassay.
Lots of little fishermens caves line the coast.
This one had been made into a little cafe.
Blowholes along the coast heading south from Sidi Oussay.


Moving further south again we headed inland for an overnight stop at Tiznit.  The municipal camp site just outside the towns walls seems to be full from November to the end of February predominantly with French camping caristes but when we arrived there were plenty of spaces available.

Municipal campsite at Tiznit.
The walls surrounding the medina are being restored and there’s lots of work still going on.




There’s always something interesting to see.

P1160345.JPGQuite a few of the French motorhomes appeared to be spending the winter at the site but although the town is nice enough an overnight stop was enough for us before heading back to the coast to walk along the beach at Legzira to have a look at its infamous rock arch.

Camping Erkounte Park midway between Mirleft and Sidi Ifni.  The campsite has a good cafe and great facilities but the nearest town is 10km away.
The beach below the campsite was deserted but none too clean.
Fishermens huts a twenty minute walk from the campsite.
The natural rock arch on Legzira beach.

P1160251.JPGI have to be honest we weren’t feeling the love for the coast as much as where we had been inland.  After having driven through such vast, arid, rocky landscapes for over a month the coast left us feeling a bit flat.  Admittedly if I’d been at work for several weeks or months and was then just transplanted to the southern Morocco coast I’d have definitely been pretty happy to be there.  As it was it was just OK! After an overnight stop in the previously Spanish enclave of Sidi Ifni it was time to head inland again.

Camping Gran Canaria at Sidi Ifni.  You’re spoilt for choice in Sidi Ifni for campsites.  This one was not far from the seafront and the showers were relly good.
Sidi Ifni, once a Spanish enclave, is a colourful mixture of restored and well kept buildings alongside half built or crumbling ones.
Above the seafront.
Place Hassan II (also known as Plaza de Espana) surrounded by some art deco kind of buildings.



We saw thousands of these types of pick up trucks in Greece and nick named them ‘olive mobiles’ as they always seemed to be piled high with olives but in Morocco they are ‘anything goes mobiles’.
It stressed me out a bit when this one overtook us – one erratic move by the driver would have been fatal for the cow and calf:(
The sunday market at Sidi Ifni.



I’m sure the shopkeeper knows where everythig is if you ask him if he has something you specifically want…………or maybe not?

P1160288.JPGWithin a few miles of leaving the coast the landscape became much more interesting.  We were back to rolling hills, open landscapes and the wind had also whipped itself up.  The shiny new surfaced road towards Geulmine gave way to roadworks and some sections of piste which made for an interesting drive.

Roadworks on the N12 towards Guelmin.


P1160301.JPGWe stopped north of Geulmine at Camping La Vallée which is reached after a two kilometre drive of piste.

The piste towards Camping de la Vallee at Abaynou, north of Guelmin.

It’s set in a valley ( suppose the name gives that away), very quiet, has a bar serving alcohol and we were very happy to be there! When I say a bar serving alcohol it is really just a room where the French owner seems to chat to the French camping caristes over a Pastis or two.  We felt like we’d just gate crashed a private party when we went into the bar at about eight in the evening.  The several French camping caristes sitting together deep in discussion fell silent as soon as we walked in.  Awkward.  After we gave a wave, a bonjour and a comment ςa va which they returned they resumed their conversation.  They don’t see many Anglais around these ‘ere parts it seems.  Fifteen minutes later they all left followed shortly after by the owner.  Having not seen a bar or in fact any alcohol in a public place for six weeks we were left ALONE in the bar surrounded by a different assortment of spirits.  It was tempting but we drained our complementary glass of red wine and decamped back to the van. 


Spotted these guys when on a walk up through the valley……desert squirrels?

P1160313.JPGGuelmine used to be an important trading post on the caravan route from the eleventh to the nineteenth centuries. 

The wind was whipping up the sand for a couple of days so now the van is covered in a fine layer of orange inside and out!

Now it’s known for the camel souk held every Saturday. We’d wanted to visit the souk but as we hadn’t spent as much time on the coast as originally planned we didn’t want to hang around in Guelmine for several days. 


After a visit to the Marjane supermarket on the outskirts of Guelmine and an overnight stop at the infamous family run Camping Tinnougba where a very warm welcome is assured we headed back to Tiznit for another night. 

Camping Tinnougba at Bouizakarne.
It was market day when we drove through Lakhsas on the way back to Tiznit.



It was buzzing in the town………………..95% men though.
The wifi area at the Municpal campsite in Tiznit.
The purpose built petanque area on the campsite.  The circles for the serve (or whatever you call it in petanque) were old bicycle tyres.  Genius.

Onwards then to Tafraoute, a small town set in the heart of the valley of the Anti Atlas.   

مسا لخير!                     

Ouarzazate to Agadir…. .

The vicinity around Ouarzazate has played host to many a film.  Gladiator, The Last Temptation of Christ, Babel and Alexander the Great amongst others were filmed at Atlas Studios just outside Ouarzazate.  We are by no means film buffs as we hardly ever watch films or TV but we thought it would be a fun place to visit nonetheless.  Well maybe we missed the point but we were completely underwhelmed by the experience.

Atlas Studios.

We found out later that we could have had a guided tour included in the price of the ticket but that wasn’t mentioned to us when we paid our eighty dirhams each to go in.  Maybe with a guide it might have been brought to life a bit more but after having visited so many ancient sites in Greece and other countries on our travels it was all a bit hammy.

P1160008.JPGI suppose that’s obvious as it’s the set of a film not the real thing but still I found it all a bit bizarre.


You’re free to wander around the site and clamber all over the crumbling sets but in twenty five degree heat I really couldn’t sum up much enthusiasm.

Some patching up would need to be done before this set could be used again.

The most interesting section for me was the stable area.  There were probably forty or so horses, a couple of donkeys and half a dozen camels there which are presumably used as extras in the films but I’m not sure what they have the opportunity to do in between films.  They all looked bored rigid in their individual stables made for one.  The stables were clean and they had plenty of protection from the heat and plenty of water but I couldn’t see anywhere around that indicated that they ever went out or were exercised at all as there were no paddocks, no hoof prints and no poo to be seen.

Yeah, and?

After an hour mooching about the different sets we’d had enough and headed for Aït Ben Haddou where we’d get to see another popular film location but this time one which existed before films were even thought of.  The Kasbah of Aït Ben Haddou is one of the largest complexes of packed earth buildings in Morocco.  It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage site and has undergone some restoration.

DSC07522.JPGWe stayed at Kasbah du Jardin, a little campsite behind an Auberge which was a bit rough and ready but after a noisy night of drumming and singing put on for a tour group at the Municipal campsite in Ouarzazate the night before we were glad to have open views and a bit of peace and quiet.

The campsite behind the Auberge.  There was an area for vans on both sides of the Auberge.  Where we were looked to be fairly newly opened.

Even though Aït Ben Haddou is very touristy we found it fascinating.  We spent a couple of hours early in the morning exploring all the little alleyways around the Kasbah before the bulk of visitors arrived.

The view back to the campsite from the top of the old town.


Looking back over the Kasbah.
Away from the main alleyways we were free to wander around all sorts of nooks and crannies.




Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here in the 60’s.

We’ve found that Morocco doesn’t really come to life until after about midday so the morning is a good time to explore as even the shopkeepers tend to leave you in peace.  Aït Ben Haddou was an exception though and we did have to politely refuse offers of ‘come, look, just look’ etc etc.

P1160059.JPGI did have quite a long conversation with one chap who invited us in to his shop and I learnt all about his children and what they were up to and his brothers and sisters but he really didn’t have anything I wanted to buy so I had to politely extricate myself before he got the teapot out.

DSC07524.JPGI paused to look at a little carpet with a picture of a camel woven into it just long enough for the shopkeeper to pounce on me.  The trouble was I really liked the little carpet with the picture of the camel woven into it.  It would be perfect in between the cab seats in the van.  Soooo, we started the game of the negotiations.  He started at 1200 dirhams (£100) but I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to pay more than 200 dirhams.  It can be a bit exhausting all this negotiating lark but I really didn’t want to budge on the top price I had in my head as we really didn’t necessarily need another carpet.  After ten minutes we were on our way back to the van for some lunch with the little carpet with the camel woven into it tucked under my arm.  He came down to 200 dirhams when he knew I was definitely going to walk away without it at any other price.  It’s looking more and more like our fitted carpets in the van are going to be thrown out before we leave Morocco.

Laurence of Arabia – 21st Century style!

En route towards the coast on the N10 we had more carpet negotiations when we stopped in Tazenakht.  We only stopped to pick up some bread and some eggs but as it was market day, which is always fascinating anywhere in Morocco, we had a wander around for an hour or so.  Tazenakht, it turns out, is carpet city.  We had a short tour, in French, at one of the co-operatives after we were invited in.  I’m getting a bit more relaxed about taking up someone’s time now and not buying anything but you know as soon as a shopkeeper starts talking to you that they want you to buy something from them.  After twenty minutes of being shown around and learning a bit about the ladies from different tribes who make carpets etc etc we left empty handed this time.  As Tim always says to me ‘he invited us in, we don’t have to feel any obligation to buy anything, we didn’t ask to have a look’.  Tim has no trouble adhering to this but I find it a bit more difficult in practice!

The N10 from Ouarzazate to Agadir is about 340 kilometres.  The dry arid landscape from Ouarzazate gets greener the further west you travel.

A goat blockade this time.
On the N10 between Ouarzazate and Tazenakht.
The rolling hills here look like they’ve had a giant rake run over them.


That’s one way to transport mules I suppose.

From carpet land in Tazenakht we reached saffron land at Taliouine.

Camping Toubkal just outside Taliouine.  Splendid views and a swimming pool big enough for a decent swim.

It is said the best saffron in Morocco is grown here.  Apart from a Saffron Co-operative there wasn’t much else in Taliouine.  We walked into the town on a Friday afternoon past the crumbling Kasbah. 

The crumbling Kasbah outside Taliouine which is still partly lived in and has been converted into a guesthouse.

Nearly everything was closed but we really enjoyed wandering around the closed up souk to be able to take photos of all the little booths which burst into life on souk day. 

The empty souk on a Friday afternoon in Taliouine


The picture is just missing the tumble weed.




Unusually it was two men doing the washing here.

West of Taliouine we encountered a steady increase in the amount of traffic on the road.

One of the towns on the way to Taroudant.
The arid landscape got a bit greener.

 It was definitely overload day.  Overloaded lorries.  Overloaded vans.  Overloaded tractors.  Overloaded motorcycles.  Overloaded bikes. Overloaded carts.  Overloaded donkeys and overloaded ladies.  We saw more overloaded forms of transport in one afternoon than we’d seen in the past two weeks. 









P1160138.JPGOn the outskirts of nearly every town we drive through there is a police checkpoint where you need to slow down and stop if asked to by the local gendarme.  To date we haven’t been stopped but I just wonder what they are checking for.  I presume vehicle insurance is a thing here but I’m not sure about an equivalent of an MOT as most vehicles fall into the over thirty years old category and are frequently falling to bits and overloaded with people.  We’ve seen some of the old Mercedes taxis carrying about nine people.  Overloading a vehicle doesn’t seem to be a problem here but maybe not having the right paperwork is.  I don’t know?! 

Here’s one for you Dad, a Renault 12 estate spotted outside Taliouine.  We’ve seen so many Renaut 12 saloons but this was the first estate.

Whilst on our way to Taroudant, where we’d planned to stay at a little campsite a couple of kilometres from the town, I spotted a new campsite on the park4night app that had recently opened that had really good reviews, had a restaurant, a pool and a washing machine and was alongside the N10 so easy to just pull into for the night.  It was, in fact excellent, definitely to a European standard, with individually marked out bays separated by flowerbeds.  Sorry I forgot to take a photo!  The restaurant, it turned out, was next door at the service station but we had an excellent meal there in the shaded garden area which cost just under £10 for the two of us. 

IMG_20190316_130950367_HDR (1).jpg
If all service station cafes served food like this for under £10 maybe we’d stop at them.

Breakfast the next morning of omelettes, coffee and a banana smoothie was less than £5. It’s a shame the campsite is right next to the busy road as it was really noisy with traffic and didn’t turn out to be as relaxing as we’d hoped.  Instead of staying another night and getting a bus into Taroudant, which is famous for its red-brown crenellated walls, we decided to drive in and park for a couple of hours just outside the walls for a look see before heading to the coast at Agadir. 

Part of the pisé walls around Taroudant.

Seeing as I’ve already bought two small carpets for the van and it’s looking increasingly like we’ll go the whole hog and replace our ageing fitted carpets with Moroccan ones I was all ready to make another purchase for the kitchen area.  After measuring up we set off into the medina within the walls.  Going from the calm of our parking spot outside the city walls through one of the gates to the medina was like going into another world again.  Donkeys, carts, mopeds, tuk tuks, car, vans and……………………people, so many people.  Workshops spill out onto the pavements.  If there’s a workshop repairing mopeds or bikes there’s usually a cluster of men gathered round something that’s being taken to bits or put back together.  The workshops, whether for mechanics, carpentry, metal or whatever are just full of stuff.  There seems to be no order and how they find anything is beyond me.  But it is all totally absorbing as well and creates so many questions that pop into my head all the time. What’s this, What’s that or Why this or Why that or How on earth…………?  It can be exhausting mentally as my little brain is on the go all the time. 

The walls inside.

We spent an hour aimlessly wandering about taking it all in before we decided it was about time we found the souk so I could peruse the carpets.  Well after half an hour, and with the help of Maps.Me, we eventually found one of the two souks but it must have been the wrong one because all that was on sale was some western style clothing, a lot of plastic and fruit and veg.  Meh.  By that time it was pushing thirty degrees and I’d peaked so didn’t have it in me to find the other souk which sells, amongst other things, leather goods and carpets.  Even if we’d found it I wouldn’t have had the energy for the whole bargaining thing so walked back to the van and got on the road to Agadir.  The carpet in the kitchen lives to fight another day! 

There is a lot of building going on all over Morocco but not much ever gets completely finished.  

Onwards then to Agadir.

تصبح على خير!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

DSC07433 (1).JPG
Looking back over the ziggy zaggy bit from the garden of the hotel.


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.


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.

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.


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





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.

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.

Through the Todra valley.
A wooly blockade.



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.

Camping Auberge Atlas.

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

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.

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.


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.

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.


Onwards to Zagora and through the Drâa valley to Ouarzazate…. .

The drive across the wide open arid plains from Merzouga towards Zagora and beyond to Ouarzazate was very relaxed.

The road to Zagora.

Granted, I’m not the one that did the drive but with little traffic on the road and just a few small towns to negotiate it seemed alright to me!

I know I keep putting these pictures in but it’s just to show how vast it is and how traffic free in between towns.

We were waylaid on the way to Zagora for a couple of nights at Camping Serdra which is found after a six kilometre drive along a very good track off the main N12.

The piste to Camping Serdrar.

Apart from a small village nearby the nearest town was sixteen kilometres away.  Considering it is in the middle of nowhere it’s a really popular site particularly with some of the French that tow quad bikes or dune buggies behind their vans.  I can see why as the site is pristine (for Morocco), tea is served on arrival, it has two washing machines, unlimited hot water and the facilities block is spotless.

Camping Serdrar.

We weren’t complaining but I still find it a little unsettling to plug in, quaff tea, put a load of washing on and soak up the sun after having driven past ladies walking along the edge of the roadside carrying heavy loads of some sort of plant on their backs, some of whom waved at us to stop indicating that they wanted some food.  Likewise as we drove along the piste to and from the campsite children came running alongside waving wanting us to stop to give them something.  Even though we’ve bought things that perhaps we don’t really need from sellers along the road we haven’t given anything to anyone who has been begging.  It is difficult to know what is the best thing to do but if all the vans stopped outside the campsite to give something to the children would they then skip school to spend their days lining the road to the campsite?

I should send this photo in to the MMM magazine!

Whilst at Camping Serdrar we didn’t do much of anything but we did take a walk up to the top of one of the nearby hills just to soak up the vastness of it all and were rewarded by seeing a bit of wildlife.


I thought this was a bird when it flew past me but the way it landed wasn’t like a bird.  It must be some sort of grasshopper thing but it was huuuge.
Not sure what this one is either but it was doing a good job at blending in.


We were just on the point of breaking out the emergency tin of spaghetti hoops when our food order arrived an hour late!


One of the towns on the way to Zagora.
See, no traffic again.


Camping Sinibad in Zagora.
A walk through the palmeries from the campsite.


The view from the top of Jbel Zagora.

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52 days to Timouctou…….by camel of course.

The road from Zagora to Ouzazate takes you right through the Drâa valley and up and over the Tizi-n-Tiniffift pass (1,660m) from where you get a first glimpse of the foothills of the High Atlas mountains in the distance.

The route between Zagora and Agdz.




It’s Kasbah Kountry.

We stopped for the night at Agdz to break up the drive from Zagora to Ouazazate, a busy bustling little town full of life.

Camping Kasbah Palmeraie at Agdz.  Note we now have Morocco on our map, albeit a homemade Morocco as our stickers only cover Europe!



Traditional bricks drying out in the sun.
You can take a tour around the Kasbah next to the campsite which is in the process of being slowly restored.
It was just a short tour as the chap that normally does the tours was away.


The village outside the Kasbah is no longer lived in.
The route between Agdz and Ouzazate over the Tizi-n-Tiniffift pass.


In Ouzazate we bought another carpet!  I hadn’t intended on buying anything but we were invited in for a look.  The trouble is I really like the stuff that is sold here and we had been toying with replacing the fitted carpets in the van.  We’re onto our second set now and they need replacing again.  Some people would question why we even have carpets in the van in such a small space but, for me, it’s non negotiable.  I like a bit of carpet underfoot.  We had talked about trying to get some made up whilst we are here but why would I want beige acrylic carpets again when I can have some mats made out of camel wool which are much more attractive, can be washed and are easier to fling out of the van when it needs a sweep out?  So anyway we started in on the negotiations for a small carpet.  The seller said that as he liked us he would give us ‘a brother price’.  Mmm Hmm.  Ok.  1300 dirham was his opening gambit.  Way too much for us.  I made a cheeky offer of 300.  After much sucking of teeth and discussions about the fact we didn’t really need the carpet and blah blah blah he eventually came down to 600.

Carpet negotiations again.

I offered 350 and apologised saying we were just too far apart to come to an agreed price and made for the door.  I really believed I’d offered a price below one that he could make a profit on but no sooner than you could say Inshallah the carpet was in a bag and thrust under Tims arm. So much for ‘a brother price’ then!  Yes it’s beige but I have pushed the boat out this time as it does have a bit of colour in it.

Camping Municipal Ouzazate.

Not far from the campsite in Ouzazate we spotted a little shack with smoke billowing out the roof and a queue of two or three people outside.  Three ladies were inside.  One was making dough and moulding it into flatbread, one was stoking a homemade bread oven in the corner and the third was sorting out the bread as it came out.  At three dirham each it was the best bread we’ve had since we’ve been here and made an excellent base for a pizza.

We ate most of the first loaf on the way back to the van.
Domino’s eat your heart out.  We did have to blow some of Tims coveted stash of cheddar though and I had to cut it down a bit to fit it in the oven.
The restored Kasbah in Ouzazate.
A very sleepy market at 4.00pm in Ouzazate.

It was just too hot in Ouzazate to stay more than one night (I know it’s a hard life) so we moved on up towards the Dadès gorge to cool off for a bit.