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Nov 14 2012

Tentative Moroccan steps

Tinghir, Morocco

I can hardly believe it – almost a week since our entertaining ferry crossing, and we are just loving Morocco!

img_1996After crossing the border (more about that later) we headed for Chefchaoune and camped for 3 nights while our fellow travellers – Noel and Ping – caught up with us.  Although the campsite was very basic – something we’ll adjust to after the luxurious camping we enjoyed in Europe – we had free wifi!  Hot water showers were only possible when the water pressure was high and the gas canister was full.  Between showers, we strolled from the campsite into the village and browsed the markets, stocked up on fresh fruit and vegetables (fantastically cheap prices!).  This village in particular has a huge affinity for the colour blue, and we were fascinated by the many different shades and hues we saw as we wandered around.  We watched the numerous weavers, weaving carpets, clothes, bed spreads in striking colours. We followed our curiosity through the maze of walkways between the buildings.  No chance of getting lost – the Moroccans are so friendly that they openly approached us to guide and direct us if we looked hesitant.

Itchy feet prevailed, and so we headed south to escape the dreary weather, and start our exploration of Morocco.  Before meeting us, Noel and Ping had originally planned to go straight to Rabat to collect Mauritanian visas, then head down the coast to the border.  Instead, they have been caught up the whims and fancies of African GirlChild and Viking Explorer, and are being dragged (willingly) into the interior of the Moroccan countryside!

dsc_8533Our first day saw us wind our way towards Taounate through the picturesque countryside.  Not quite the desert scenery we had expected of Morocco, this northern part is characterised by green rolling hills and cultivated lands.  In addition, we seemed to have – unwittingly – stumbled through hashish alley, which saw us offered by at least 100 men and children!  The opportunistic attitude amazed me – cars travelling in the opposite direction which change course, follow us, overtake us and pull over, in the vain hope that we would be interested customers.  Alas, not.

Dragging Noel and Ping into their next adventure, we decide to try our first night of wild camping!  Complete novices at this, we took a little while to find a dirt track which looked promising.  It ended up being a track between the fields of various farms!  We had a few cars and trucks pass us bye – who were more concerned with our general welfare than whether we were staying the night!  We were left in peace – although being close to farms, the first trucks came past at 0545!

dsc_8554Our adventure continued towards the mountains.  We passed through Fes and Sefrou on our way into the Atlas Mountains.  We passed over plains stretching horizon to horizon – before encountering our next shock.  The warm weather disappeared … suddenly we were in the snow.  Morocco continued to throw up surprises, and our plans for wild camping were slowly unravelling.  Being the flexible travellers we are (and very accustomed to our plans changing!!) we noticed a sign for a gite, and decided to explore the narrow, snow covered track into the mountains.  We stumbled upon a small settlement where one of the houses was offering authentic experience – traditional afternoon tea, dinner, a room for the night, and breakfast.  Although being in the snow covered mountains it was still chilly, it was a truly unique experience.  The family were very hospitable, and nothing was a problem.  We sat, and delicious food continually appeared!

Overnight, the temperatures had warmed slightly, and a lot of snow melted.  We continued our journey southwards (warmth seeking adventurers) towards Midelt, with the aim of following tracks into the mountains towards Lac Tislet.  The snow covered landscape was breath-taking, but unfortunately, we hadn’t made it that far when we were stopped by all the snow.  Disappointed, we returned to snowfree Midelt and headed our to try another night of wild camping.

We found a spot in a shallow riverbed – don’t worry, we were above the river bed itself, but below the level of the plain.  There was not a cloud in the sky, the sun was setting … and a damn icy breeze was blowing!  We had a few visitors – as we expected.  Never that far from civilisation.  First, a man with 2 donkeys.  Then, the local shepherd with his flock of sheep.  Next, two boys (about 7 and 10) who were joined by another man on foot.  Eventually, we were alone, and could start dinner in the dark.

We froze that night.  The clear skies stayed and the temperature dropped to below freezing.  Double sleeping bags were the name of the game.  The next morning, we woke early to watch the sun rise over the plains – and the mercury rise in the thermometer!  It had almost reached 10C by the time we departed towards Todra Gorge.

dsc_8626Finally, the scenery we expected materialised as we headed over the High Atlas Mountains.  We made our way through Ziz gorge – reminiscent of Grand Canyon, but smaller scaled.  We made our way to Tinghir on the south side of Todra Gorge in preparation for heading into the gorge, and potentially back into Lac Tislet.

Our first campsite in a few days – pretty basic, but it had free wifi on offer!

(Please also head over the photography page where Viking Explorer has added a few photos of these past days.)

10 comments

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  1. TheLostScott

    Trip is sounding great so far guys, the blog is proving to be a great escape from the daily grind in the office!

    In case you didn’t already know there is another couple in a 200 Series Cruiser that is doing a very similar trip to you and they are also currently in Morocco: http://transafrica2012.blogspot.co.uk

    Love to hear how you got on at the border.

    1. African GirlChild

      Glad we are providing someescapism! Border info coming … need a bit of time to catch up on all my writing!!!

  2. Vic

    Great story, great story-telling… Lovely to have you Skype as well… We’re very jealous of your adventures, and look so forward to emulating you guys. Keep it coming… The Dorset Crew

    1. African GirlChild

      Skype is amazing! I am really appreciating technology, and the connectivity in Morocc0, when we aren’t wild camping of course ;)

  3. paul and cathy

    another great entry into the diary, keep them coming!

    sounds like you are having a blast!

    1. African GirlChild

      Glad you are enjoying it!

  4. patrick gilligan

    Enjoying your blogs and I agree technology is wonderful -stay safe

  5. tuggy

    good blog guys, and good to catch up the other night,,,,,enjoy…tug-erica

  6. Ian

    looking farward to your next update all sounds good so far

    Ian

  7. Anne (TrundlingJenny)

    Hi Guys
    Back online at last, with a new email, I still have update africa-overland ! Catching up with you at last.

    Will catch up with you later

    Keep Safe
    Anne

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