Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Heading for the hills

more later, heading out to eat now

Leaving Khamlia a day earlier than planned was a good idea as much as we enjoyed the stay there. The heat was just too much for us, so we left early in the day as soon as we had cooled off from the camel trekking and had a bit to eat.

We now had at least an extra day to get the rental car to Marrakesh, but being still in hot country in the south and relatively lower elevation we still wanted to seek out more comfortable surroundings. That does not mean missing great scenery though as we had some options that are not any less spectacular than the desert. Morocco's mountains and geologic activity certainly help in this regard.

With no real big obstacles, correction, not many, in our way we headed north past Merzouga, and never wanting to backtrack more than necessary, turned off at Erfoud on a tertiary road that was not bad & saved us about 80 km total driving as well.

The car as I mentioned was not air-conditioned as requested but we had come up with our own solution that helped a lot. We carry with us a couple of super absorbent travel towels and had not had to use them much yet (one place I think), but wetting these and wiping faces with them and wrapping them around necks, or even over driver's left arm to avoid getting a truck driver tan sure helped. Having a good front seat right side person helps too!

Anyway at Tinerhir we turned off for one of the spectacular gorges in the eastern end of the High Atlas mountains, the Todra Gorge. It's about 15 km up to the most remarkable part of the gorge, where it narrows down to about 10 metres wide with 160 meter high cliffs on each side. Our place for the night was Dar Ayour, one of most expensive so far for the night at 570 for the 2 of us. This was for "half-board" which means supper and breakfast included, and is a common pricing mode.

It was a beautiful deep red painted place down behind the donkey barns, and bordering the river. It was the first place we have found any sort of air conditioning other than a natural one and, even though the temperature was overall cooler in the gorge because of our higher altitude, the wind and shadow between the cliff walls and the river, we still had to use it for at least a while. The mud walls again retained the sun's heat and released it through the night so this might have been another night best under the stars on the roof.

We walked the short distance to and along the narrowest tallest section of the gorge before dinner, and then came back to...wait for it...tajine! Gets boring doesn't it?

The morning came with a similar menu as well, bread with jam, tea for her, coffee for me. Boiled eggs on request this time, no olives though. After eating we hopped in the car which was in a garage out front and drove several km further up the gorge until it had opened up quite a bit and where there is a hotel where some of the rooms are caves in the rocky walls. We turned there and headed back down, but stopped for pics along the way, including a couple of 2 rock climbers we saw beginning to scale one of the gorge walls. Serious stuff.

Now spot the climber:

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