Day 8 Tansikht, Morocco
Leaving Ouarzazate we headed East along the Rose Valley, a narrow, verdant corridoor famous for growing roses and selling posies to the tourists. After about the 200th offer of buying roses it ceased to be a spectacle, or amusing! The children know that if they get in front of the vehicles they have more chance of a sale.
At Boulmane Dades we turned off the made-up road and headed up into the Dades Gorges, a sequence of very steep-walled valleys of sand stone and alternate larva (going on what the locals said...) making strata that have a magical charm. The track, or Piste in the local jargon, varied from graded ballast to mud and rocks, with or without gravel and mud wash from the last rains, and posed quite challenging riding conditions on relatively heavy bikes.
Every new valley had something different about it, whether it was minerals colouring the rocks (yellow, purple, green, black) or dramatic land slips leaving sheer cliffs that seemed to cling to the mountain against the laws of physics. We continued to wind and climb, and bounce and jar our way up to the top of the valley pass at Agoudal, reaching 2916m. The bikes felt OK in the rarified air, one of the benefits of fuel injected engines as they compensate to some extent for the levels of oxygen in the air. The air temperature was also noticeable cooler and snow lay just above us at about 3200m.
From here on we were mainly descending towards the Todra Gorge, and the rock structures changed from being sand-stone and larva to granite and quartz (I'm no geologist, so apologies to those better informed). We had to cross a number of rivers, one of which was 1/2m deep and the BMW GS riding with us stalled mid-way across - fortunately the engine heat dried it and it started again without fuss. In one area the river had washed the road away and we hopped from gravel bank to gravel bank, splashing through the now shallow water until the road appeared again 1km later.
The Todra Gorge was near to the end of the ride, now back on tarmac roads, and is the most amazing gorge. Hopefully one of the pictures attached to this page shows it. The walls are some 500m tall, and the gorge is 150m wide at the widest point, narrowing to about 20m. The road and the river have to share this space, and the river inevitably wins several times per year. We stopped for coffee and soaked up this amazing place.
Riding down towards the gorge we met Tim riding a Yamaha Tenere. He is an English guy who retired in his 40s and has spent his time riding around various parts of the world, but particularly Morocco and is currently preparing the material for a book of the best rides, routes and tips for the adventure rider/4x4 driver. Quite a character.
We eventually arrived in Alt-Ouritan, just outside Tansikht, and found a rhiad/hotel with rooms free. Basic but adequate for 4 tired riders. I jumped in the outdoor pool to cool off, much to the amusement of the staff and my riding friends, but it was great after the miles of breathing dust and being in the sun. Good training for the desert, which comes next...
Total mileage: 197m about 80-100m of which off road