Atlas Mountains of Morocco

These pages of photographs come from a walking holiday. They covered a good variety of routes in the lower parts of the Atlas Mountain range.
 
There is a copy of a map with the main destinations overmarked on it. It is a 98kb download, but you can then keep it open in a separate window for easy reference. (Toggling between windows is done by Alt-Tab for Internet Explorer or Netscape and Ctrl-Tab for Opera)

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The Dades Gorge Click for larger image in new window

After flying in to Ouarzazate we travelled by road Eastwards to the Dades Gorge, where we spent our first 7 nights.
 
The hotel is the first building visible in the depths of the gorge.




The Narrows Click for larger image in new window

Above the hairpins the road winds and eventually comes to this narrow section.
 
For a short distance the roan and the river run side by side with no spare space.




The Green Valley Click for larger image in new window

In September the hills surrounding the gorge are barren and dramatic.
 
In contrast the valley bed has been carefully irregated and supports may village communities. This picture makes the contrast clear.




Les Doigts de Singes Click for larger image in new window

Our first walk was through the cultivated valley bed. It began at a spot named after the strange rock formations.
 
These are said to be volcanic in origin. They form layered structures, both horizontal and tilted.



Ait Arbi Click for larger image in new window

As well as smaller villages there is a kasbah above the irrigated fields.
 
Kasbahs are fortified villages or houses. This one is a less-fortified example.




The Dades Gorge road Click for larger image in new window Click for larger image in new window

Higher up the gorge, above the hairpins, cultivation continues.
 
These areas were passed on a later date, as we were walking up to the rocky and bleak regions above the West side of the gorge.




Click for larger image in new window Nomad caves

In this area there are some caves used by nomads, who travel continuously so their goats and sheep can survive on the dreadfully poor pasture.
 
If they are in residence they will be very happy to offer you some mint tea.



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Here the facilities of a nomad cave kitchen are being shown by a local walking guide.




Death Canyon Click for larger image in new window

The day was finished by a descent through a dramatic cleft in the side of the gorge (with a dramatic name!)
 
This well-hidden feature leads back to within a short distance of the hotel.




East of Dades Gorge Click for larger image in new window

Several walks start near Ait Hammou. On this day we were walking the area to the East of the gorge.




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The route started with a stiff climb away from the gorge road.
 
The welcome rest stops gave good views.




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The colours and the clear air are magnificent.




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Over the top and down. We stopped for mint tea with a local nomad.
 
Here he was demonstrating his salt-grinder: his flocks need salt to cope with the hot climate.




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The descent again emphasises how the contrast between the main Dades valley and the barren high ground.


 

Todhra Gorge Click for larger image in new window

The Todhra Gorge is 90 min driving to the East of the Dades Gorge.
 
Its entrance is narrow steep and spectacular.
It also free of a major road in the gorge - at least for the time being.




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Below the Todhra Gorge it is possible to walk down through the cool green of the Palmeries to Tinehir.




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There were several different sorts of dates growing there. We did taste a few.




The M'goun Valley Click for larger image in new window

The back road from Ait Youl eastwards to Botghrar has a desolate feel to it.
 
We hired a 4wd minibus for this journey.




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Our route starts from the village on the right (Botghrar or Bou Thakrar). It follows leftwards along the bed of the river.




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We are now in the green area of the previous photo.




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A slightly damp walk!




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You can see why it all grows green!




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