Morocco 2014

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The eastern edge of the High Atlas from the desert road between
Goulmima and Er Rachidia.
(the road is quite straight, by-the-way, for about 50 kms)

 

 

This was our big adventure!

We had thought about this trip the previous year and got as far as southern Spain but my hip was a bit too uncomfortable; I had a new hip in November 2013 and felt confident enough by April 2014 to go for it. We spent a couple of weeks in Spain before setting off from the port of Terifa to Tanger (Tangiers).  Our route is shown on the following map. All the campsites we visited were listed in Camping Morocco from Vicarious Books http://www.vicariousbooks.co.uk/camping-morocco.shtml.

 

 

Our (my!) target was to get to visit the ‘museum’ in Erfoud on the edge of the Sahara Desert that I had read about and I hoped I might meet the proprietor who had set up a business of extracting exceptionally well preserved fossils from the Lower Palaeozoic rock of the Ante Atlas and surrounding desert areas.

Tanger

The crossing was easy and the ferry company was offering special discounts for ‘camping cars’ so it cost quite a bit less than I had anticipated. We arrived a Tanger and the various formalities were not as onerous as I had expected from what I had read. I did not begrudge a couple of Euros to ‘helpers’ who smoothed things considerably taking me around to the various desks and getting the appropriate bits of paper.

Getting cash was easy enough at the bank just outside the port. Insurance cover for the trip was also straightforward once I had woken up the gentleman in his portacabin. And we set off out into the Tanger traffic – and got lost almost immediately! We eventually got to the main ring road around Tanger and then found the road that would take us to Chefchaouene, our first camp site.  

Chefchaouene

Driving in Morocco was fairly easy although the numerous police road blocks took a bit of getting used to; there seemed to be one outside each town or village. Chefchaouene is built on a steep hillside and the campsite is above the town. Negotiating the numerous hairpin bends in the town was entertaining as the lock on the Landrover is poor; it seemed to be well acknowledged as the traffic just waited while I shuffled back and forth.

We stayed here for several days getting used to Morocco; the walking in the Rif Mountains is superb although we were not really prepared or fit enough for anything strenuous. We also stayed at a hotel for a couple of nights before setting off south.  


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Africa 15 kms.

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Transport

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Chefchaouene

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Chefchaouene market

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A street in the old town...

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..and mint tea in one of the cafes.

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Hotel Tarek

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Sitting on the veranda of the hotel

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The herb garden in front of the hotel

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Chefchaouene from the hill above the town

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The main square in the old town

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Moussier's redstart

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Birding was very good.

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My arabic girlfriend!

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From the main square in the old town..

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..and the square at night

Moulay Idris

Our next stop was a camp site near to Moulay Idriss. Volubis, the UNESCO world heritage site, is located here in the fertile plains north of Meknes; we visited the site on our return journey. The camp site had seen better days but was adequate although  disappointing by Europoean standards; nevertheless each night we fed well on tagine cooked locally and brought in. The restauraunt was very elegant but holes in the ceiling had not been repaired and the whole site was somewhat neglected.

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The camp site

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and field surrounding.

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The elegant restaurant

Ksar Timnay campsite near Midelt

http://www.ksar-timnay.com
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Getting some cash on the way and note the dentist's advert

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Semi-desert outside the campsite at Ksar Timnay

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Irrigated orchard

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Tortoise in the stoney surface.

Ksar Timnay to Tissirt

http://campingtissirtziz.free.fr
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Washing clothes in the river flowing out of the High Atlas

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Stop in a lay-by and people appear from nowhere trying to sell you something.

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On to the desert plains...

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.. and then Wow!

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Camping Tissirt

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The palm gardens

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The main street

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The local post office.

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Dates drying in the sun

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Transport

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Leaving the delightful Camping Tissirt

Erfoud

 

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Relaxing in a cafe in Erfoud

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Main street in Erfoud.

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The camp site

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.. and the pool

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The fossil museum

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Extracting fossils with a dentists drill

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Trilobites

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and more trilobites

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The boss - I forget his name

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His prize possession - not for sale.

Erfoud to the Todgha (Todra) Gorge at Tinerhir

The Todgha Gorge is a canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas near Tinerhir. For three nights we had the (relative) luxury of room in a hotel rather than the camper.

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Camel in the Sahara

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A stop en route at a small cafe in one of the oasis villages.

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The Ante Atlas

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Approaching Tinerhir.

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Our hotel room balcony

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!

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The bathroom.

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The pool and village.

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View from hotel.

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Approaching the Todgha Gorge

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In the Gorge

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Jean and the Transport of Delight.

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Setting off to explore; I think this photo disturbed Liz a bit.

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Unobscured geology.

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Space!...

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and out of nowhere?

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Sheep and goats grazing the meagre vegetation.

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More geology!

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Desert road

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Todgha gorge

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The road goes through that gorge.

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Sunset from the hotel

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The restaurant..

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..the restaurant

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Our balcony!

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The Todgha river exiting the Atlas Mountains onto the plains of the Dades River

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Leaving Tinerhir and looking to the south east.

Goulmima

We spent a couple of relaxing days in Goulmima; too few really as it seemed a delightful town. Sitting at a café in the main street and watching endless bicycles passing by as the school day ended was very pleasant. The camp site is in the middle of the town, behind the bus station, but was quiet and comfortable with quite a lot of 'extras' for a Moroccan camp site and the traditional food was good. The 'drinking' water was salty though so we kept to bottled water.

There was a storm one afternoon with lots of thunder and lightning and you could see sheets of rain coming down but the temperature was in the thirties and the rain evaporated before reaching the ground. A lot of snow though was dumped on the High Atlas as we saw on our return journey.

An interesting aside was trying to exchange a £50 note at a Moroccan bank in the town. They had not seen one before and had to fax/send a copy to head office to authorise payment; no problem though – eventually.

 

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Goulmima

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Goulmima

Goulmima back to Moulay Idris with an overnight stop at Ksar Timnay

The satnav said turn left in 60kms, at Errachidia; this is the road shown in the banner at the top of the page. Passing the camel, amongst few other things on the way, we then headed westwards into the northern foothills of the High Atlas following the valley and gorges of the Ziz river.

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Take the road for 60 kms...

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(ship of the desert).

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...then turn left

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..through the Atlas

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...and follow the river Ziz

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Snow on the Atlas.

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Shopping in Midelt.

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the butcher...

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the baker...

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..and tagine maker.

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Start of cedar forest.

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A carpet of flowers after the rain; these were not there on the way; a real delight and with enough water for the ruddy shelduck.


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Several people at home asked about fuel - no problems at all.

Meknes..

.. and the fertile area beyond

Moulay Idris

Roman remains..

and more..

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.. and more.

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And the reason for Roman settlements.

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Tanger

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Tanger

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Tanger
waiting for the ferry