Entering Todra Gorge is a breathtaking sight, especially as we drove under a massive overhanging rock. We found a lovely spot to bush camp just beyond the overhang, minus the flash packers, who chose to stay in a hotel no more than 500m away. A local Berber, Abdelleh, invited the group to his house after dinner, and a fun night was had drumming and singing. There must have been something more substantial in the “Berber whiskey” than mint tea, as there were a few sore heads the following morning.
About half went for a trek across the top of the gorge, with Paul leading. (been here before) He did a splendid job, for most of the trek, until he sneakily joined in with a guided group of Frenchies! All made it safely back.
In the meantime, Kath (locally known as Fatima) and Denise were having “high tea” Berber style at Abdelleh’s. His mum and brothers, and the family goats, dogs etc were also part of the experience.

With the truck packed away and all accounted for, we made our descent out of the gorge and on to Tineher, where Wes and Helen decided to catch a bus to Marrakech and meet us there. A short 100kms away we entered the even more spectacular Dades Gorge, where a few hairs on the back of the neck were raised, as we made an ascent on a steep switchback road, all worth it as the evening was spent at “Maison de Berber”. A quaint hotel and camp ground, where our new friend Abdelleh met us and prepared a traditional Tajine for supper. The “salade morocaine” was a bit spicy for some, but the chicken and vegetable main course was enjoyed by all, not a crumb left over. Yumm!

A clear, crisp morning in the mountains was followed by the descent along the same route. It was slightly more difficult going down the switchbacks, and a few corners had to be taken in three manoeuvres, all adding to the tension!
Some interesting rock formations, known as the monkey’s fingers, were heavily photographed, before we finally emerged onto the main road. Next stop Ouzzarzate.

Luckily we hit town on the right day, weekly market on Tuesday’s, so we would not starve that night! From there we continued on to the Draa Valley and Zagora. The valley starts after the “grand canyon”, just beyond a mountain pass that descends into the town of Agdz. A hill behind the town resembles a giant Tajine, and is known locally as the “first Tajine”.
The valley is full of date palms along the river, which is supposed to flow all the way to the Atlantic, but in reality peters out somewhere in the Sahara. Kasbahs abound, small villages and LOTS of palms all the way to Zagora. We went straight through town as it was getting dark, and bush camped just off the road to M’Hamid, which is a village 40kms from the Algerian border.
The weather gods were kind that night, and our first glimpse of the desert night sky was incredible. Some, who live in the UK, remarked that they had never seen so many stars.
Tangine wall
Back to Zagora in the morning, food shop, money change, and the hunt for the famous sign. “52 days to Timbuktu” by camel train. We did find it, and disappointingly it is rather uninspirational, to say the least. It’s not even the original!

Back along the Draa Valley, and on to Ait-Ben Haddu. This ancient Kasbah has been the setting for such films as Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.
A leisurely lunch, then an exploration of the Kasbah, which is still inhabited,
seemingly by a few grumpy camels that had to be avoided on the way in! Then again, we did discover a sneaky way in that bypassed the exorbitant entry price of 10Dh (80p), after all we are tight ass travellers!
We found a great bush camp along the river bank, in sight of the Kasbah, and walking distance from a hotel for you know who!

The 150kms to Marrakech took in a huge mountain pass, where the highest point is 2260m. All done in low gear, very steep, very dangerous (mad Moroccan bus drivers!) Safely done we breezed into Marrakech and the promised warmer weather.

Marrakech conjours up an array images, many of them stereotypically Moroccan. The square “Djemaa el Fna” has it all: snake charmers, henna painters, tarot card readers, singers, dancers, juice sellers and a bustling night food market (complete with snail soup), all competing with a lively Medina. It is an assault on the senses in a pleasing and enjoyable way. We have been staying at Hotel Ali, right amongst it. But even with its charms, Marrakech is but a dot on our route, and after three nights the feet are twitching and it is time to move on.

Essaouira and the Atlantic coast awaits.