Tue 15th - Thu 17th September
Todra Gorge, Morocco – Tues 15th & Weds 16th September
Todra Gorge is literally like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, where the massive fault is just wide enough to let a crystal clear river and a narrow ‘road’ run through it. As we approach from the top of the gorge we are greeted by the stunning green of the palmeraies running along the valley floor. As we descend into the gorge itself the pink and grey rock feel like it’s closing in around us. In places the road has been washed away and the wheels of the truck literally hover over the edge on air. Camping le Festival is built into the rock face on the edge of the dried up river bed up in the Petite Gorge. All meals so far have been fab but tonight’s Thai chicken curry was excellent and has now raised the bar for future cook groups.
There are upgrades available so I decide to check into my own room complete with double bed and thick woolly blanket. 12 days into the trip and I have only pitched my tent twice and slept in it once! Not the intrepid traveller I once was but there will be plenty of camping during the next 4 months to make up for it.
We hire a guide the following morning and the majority of the group decide to walk to Tinerhir on an estimated 7hour walk over high passes and along windy rocky tracks. We pass a Berber village where 12 people live with their black goats under black woven basic tented camps in the steep slopes of the gorge. Zoe turns back after just 30 mins as it’s her turn for the sickness bug. The rest of us finally make it to the village at 3.30pm, 12km later and still the same distance to walk back to camp!!! Six of us decide to hitch a ride back to take the pressure off the showers and get dinner ready while the rest walk. We flag down the first vehicle which happens to be a mini van and pile in. Our lift costs 100 Dirhams, just 10 Euro.
We had Dhal and rice for dinner and there is enough Dhal left for the next 2 nights – I am on cook group with Jen tomorrow so we just need to supplement the leftovers – that has made our task very easy although we are very slightly disappointed not to have our turn.
Ait Benhaddou, Morocco – Thur 17th September
We drive through the High Atlas Mountains along the Dades Valley to Ouarzazarte where Jen and I do our food shopping. We spend just 120 dirhams out of the 500 dirham budget. Ouarzazarte is a pretty, laid back town with a great Kasbah although our wandering time was limited due to our shopping duties.
Next stop is Ait Benhaddou, home of a huge red brick Kasbah used for films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth, Jewel of the Nile and Gladiator. There are few remaining residents in the Kasbah on the shores of the dried up river bed and those that are left try to make a few dirham selling paintings and tagines or showing us round their homes. The village has a kind of fake stage set feel about it but the views across the valley are great and the cool breeze very welcome while wandering the narrow lanes to an old fortified granary at the very top.
We camped at Auberge de Jardin, literally in their very very small walled garden, but again, had the use of their kitchen and lounge to relax and enjoy dinner. Jen and I toiled in the kitchen, Zoe helped chop veggies while Luca hindered and the ladies of the Auberge watched. As we hadn’t had to do much for dinner this eve we attempted dessert of crème caramel (packet mix) and it was surprisingly good - it went down very well.