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Nov 18 2012

Gorgeous gorges

Ait Youl, Morocco

I realise I love gorges.

I haven’t had the good fortune to visit the Grand Canyon, but have seen many many photos. In Morocco, we have been spoilt with visiting 2 gorges – each unique, and each quite different from each other.

Gorge du Todra was a “small” gorge. Make no mistake, it was still towering when we drove along the bottom and gazed upwards in fascination. It was quite a short gorge too – only about 18 km in length, and most of the way we were driving along the valley, waiting in anticipation to drive around the next bend and see the surprise around the next corner. It really was an ant’s-eye view. As we pootled along, the gorge opened up into a valley, with more angled sides. This felt like the tourist gorge too: there were many hotels, kasbahs, campsites to entice the tourist to stay a while longer, and the local traffic seemed minimal in comparison.

Gorge du Dades was grandiose. It was large as life, proud and just enormous. We seemed to alternate between driving along the rim, then meandering down into the valley for a while, before climbing back out. This really gave us a chance to appreciate the sheer size – not only was it almost 30km long, but it also seemed to be higher, wider, deeper. We marvelled at the rock formations, interesting landscapes carved out by the winding river. This is the practical route north into the mountains – there are limited facilities for the casual tourist, and the trucks use this to transport wares up and down the valley. Of course, this is only possible when the route through the mountains higher up isn’t blocked by snow. In our case, it was.

In spite of the differences, both gorges shared one feature in common: they sustained life. It was amazing to see the rich green texture in the valley bottoms – villages and settlements present, agriculture managing to survive, herds of sheep evident.

(Photos to follow in the gallery on the blog soon …(

We’re into the desert soon. I haven’t seen a real desert and real sand dunes before. I can’t wait.


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