0358. Morocco's Highway to Hell (Mor 190--new)

Ijjoukak Travel Blog

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I head back down to Asni and from there catch a taxi to Ijoukak on the road to Taraoudant.  I figure I’ll make my way to Taroudant and Agadir and then catch an overnight bus back to Casablanca.

We soon are driving through some very rugged terrain.  With very steep slopes loaded with very loose rocks.  Just as I start thinking “you know, this looks like a really good place for a landslide…” the rains start…

Within minutes, we come upon a pile of rocks covering half the road, we manage to go around it… then another… then another… Then big rocks scattered all about… Sometimes the driver asks the passengers to get out and clear some of the stones off the road… We pass a car with a blown tire—apparently unsuccessful at avoiding the rocks…

We have officially entered Morocco’s Highway to Hell.

To the left, I eye the cliff nervously—the precariously balanced that look like they could give way at any moment… To the right, is a steep drop…

It’s not long before we reach a landslide that has completely blocked the road.   On the other side of it, I can see cars that have been trapped between TWO landslides…

I’m actually kind of happy—it’s a great chance to get out and take some pictures of the rugged mountain scenery… I still have a day and a half to get back to Casa—I’m sure something will be figured out by then… As long as a landslide doesn’t actually come down on top of us, this will be nothing more than a cool adventure.  I ask the other guys how long it’ll take for the roads to be cleared.
“Maybe a couple of hours—or a couple of days…”

I consider hiking on on foot.

  But it looks like it could start raining again at any moment…

Within an hour or so, a big earth mover shows up around the bend and gets to work clearing the rockpile in front of us… We are on our way again.

But not for long.  Within a few miles we come upon another landslide and we wait again…

And then a third.  This time the wait is longer.  Finally some villagers show up with shovels and people set to work trying to clear it by hand.  Well, not exact clear it—just level it at the top so vehicles can climb over it. 

Finally they get it sort of levelled off and the first truck gives it a try.  The truck starts leaning very precariously off towards the drop… but makes it over…

A British woman in a near panic asks me what’s going on… I guess she had a good reason to be nervous… her car had come upon the landslide while it was actually happening!  That’d probably make anybody a bit antsy—especially on their first visit to Morocco! 

And when I tell her that the other guys said that we could be stuck here for a couple of days probably didn’t help matters much either…

She asks me to accompany her and her boyfriend (who had walked up ahead to see what was going on) in their vehicle as a security blanket, so I accept…

We waited our turn to take a shot at driving over the pile of rocks… and continued on our way…

A very memorable experience travelling down Morocco’s Highway to Hell.

So, if you’re particularly frightened by the idea of dying in a landslide… I would suggest that you avoid the Marrakech-Taroudant highway… at least when it’s raining…

We reached Ijoukak where I got off and quickly looked for a tagine—I was pretty hungry. 

Ijoukak is little more than a village… but from a little rising in the middle, you get a nice view of the area…

I decide to continue on on foot as the road goes through a pleasant orchard—and it looks like there might be another town right up ahead…


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Ijjoukak
photo by: nathanphil