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Mar 27 2012

Road Trip – Day 1 (Quarzazate to Gorges du Dades)

It’s amazing how, as a result of a coincidence, things just seem to happen when you travel.  That’s what I love about going with the flow and not arranging every part of the trip, if anything at all (the latter being my preference).  We ended up on a 3-day road trip as a result of such an experience.

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Brekkie in Quarzazate

Having finished breakfast, we were discussing where to go next and how to get there.  The bus was my preferred option at that point.  We got the bill and there seemed to be some discrepancy over the price (i.e. it was way more expensive than it should have been).  I questioned this with the waitress and she seemed adamant about the price.  Another customer came over to us and asked what the problem was in English.  I explained the situation to him and he helped to sort it out.  We chatted to him afterwards and found out that he owned a tour company.  As we were looking for options of what to do at that point, we decided to find out more about his company.  There was no pressure but also no negotiation on price, both of which surprised me.  We parted company to check out of the hotel and had a chat about what to do next.  Since we had limited time in Morocco coupled with the price of the trip, we decided to go for it.  So, within about an hour and a half of going to breakfast, we were in a taxi (yes, a taxi) on a 3-day road trip:

Quarzazate – Skoura – Gorges du Dades – Tinerhir – Gorges du Todra – Erfoud – Rissani – Merzouga – Rissani – Agdz – Quarazazate


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The red mountains and terrain from Skoura coupled with the long straight empty roads reminded me of a previous road trip down Western Australia from Broome to Perth.  But, the snake-like roads winding around the mountain towards Gorges du Dades reminded me of the South Island in New Zealand.    We stopped off in El Kelaa M’Gouna (commonly known as Rose Valley) at a factory that produces cosmetic products made from rose and argane oil to find out about the production process.  Unfortunately, it was too early to see the valley in bloom.  I would love to go back sometime to see that and for the Rose Festival, which is in May.

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Rose and Argane Oil Factory

On our journey, we saw accommodation that was surrounded by spectacular scenery.  As we drove past, I really wished we were staying at one of those.  That was until we arrived at our destination, Gorges du Dades.  Our accommodation was a small family-run hotel at the mouth of the gorge.  It was perfect – the accommodation and the location!  We dumped our bags, had a cup of Moroccan tea and headed off with a guide from the local village up the adjacent mountain for a short trek before sunset.

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Cave Entrance

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Me in a cave with one of the children

Unexpectedly, we met a nomadic Berber family who were very warm and welcoming and invited us into their cave.  They were the first family to make the 2 week trek from the Sahara (husband, wife, wife’s sister, two children, sheep, goats, dog, and donkey).  Apparently, it’s first come, first serve with the caves so, as there are 500 nomadic families that live there in the spring and summer, it’s important to get there early enough to get first pickings.  The cave was small and the ground was covered with rugs.  There was a rug rolled up on one side of the cave and as they pulled it back, I saw a newborn baby laying there.  It was so cute and seemed very content.  The mother made us tea and we conversed as best we could.  After that, we continued on our journey to the top of the mountain, from where we could see the village and the gorge below.  On the way down, we had to tread carefully because of the loose stones underfoot.  That is no trouble for the local women who apparently use that route carrying heavy objects.

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View over the village at Gorges du Dades

February isn’t rainy season so, as darkness began to fall over the gorge, we returned to the hotel via the road.

Day 2


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