Todra Gorge and Trip to the dunes

Merzouga Travel Blog

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Road back down from Dades

On the road again for 9am, after breakfast, and drove back down the road to Boumaine and back onto the main road. The road climbed through Boumaine and as we went up the hill we got to stop and take some photos of the town. On a hill overlooking it some Arabic writing was cut into the hill, and we asked Farim what it said. He told us it meant Sahara Desert. IF ONLY !!! We still had a long way to go yet.

A short drive on and we came tot he town of Tinerhir, where we cut off and up to Todra Gorge. On the road up there are loads of groves with dates growing in them, and when we got to a good point we again got to stop and take photos down the valley. Arrived up at the gorge and were surprised by the number of locals that were about before we realised that it was a Saturday.

Boumaine
The gorge was very impressive and we took the chance to paddle in the river and cool our feet, without bothering to take the flip flops off of course :). Todra Gorge is longer than the Dades Gorge,and tucked in right at the end of it, under the cliff face, there are about 3 or 4 hotel and restaurants. We weren't rushed here and had plenty of time to stretch our legs and get some air. We were going to need it, as the next stage was probably the longest . Coming back down into Tinerhir we noticed by the riverside loads of women down with their baskets of washing,cleaning the clothes in the river.

Tinerhir also marked the end of the decent road and it got rougher as we the long drive out through the 'stony desert' . Every so often you would come across a small town or village and just wonder why the hell anybody lived here.

Writing On The Hill
Also noticed as we went along the occasional man sitting by the side of the road while a herd of goats wandered close by.  

Seemed like we drove for ages, through a real barren landscape of small black stone and sand, with the odd hill visible here and there. eventually we stopped for lunch at a place called Tinejdad,and as we sat having lunch were told we still had another 2 hour drive ahead to Merzouga. Just after Tinejdad we turned off the main road onto a minor road to take us to Erfoud. By now I was really glad of my books and my iPod :-) . It did take the best part of the 2 hours, but after Erfoud it wasn't far onto Rissani.

Road Up To Todra
Here we turned down another road and stopped just before leaving the town at a Berber workshop where we were given thachance to buy headscrves for wearing out into the desert. Ended up they did it for a group price, ie. the more the group bought the cheaper it would be. In the end it was only one of the girls from New Zealand that wasn't buying one and when that was pointed out to her she soon fell into line :-D . Ended up costing 50 Dirham each, but worth it for wearing, just the warning that if you plan on keeping it and go to wash them the dye pours out of it.

At last we started see the dunes looming up in front, growing larger and larger as we approached. we pulled in at a sort of hotel where we were to leave our stuff overnight, and given a couple of rooms. Loathe to actually call it a hotel, but that far out in the sticks I suppose it's as good as you would get, but the room we had hadn't been aired and it was totally minging and was very, very basic.

Todra Valley
 We had time to go for a swim in the pool, before going and getting dried off and meeting up where our camels were sitting waiting in the car park.

There were 2 groups of 3 camels and 1 group of 6. The guide we had directed me first onto the last camel in the group of 6 and the rest of the faimly onto this group plus one of the Spanish boys and Sophie from New Zealand at the front. Really had to hold onto the saddle handles as the camel started to stand up, you end up at some angle as they stand on their hind legs first.  The guide then moved forward getting each camel to stand in turn and then we were off,across the road and straight into the dunes. We had been told at the office when booking it to bring long trousers for the camel, but I just had long shorts, which were just OK, as the saddles are quite coarse.

todra Gorge

Getting into the dunes it just looked amazing. Here at Merzouga is the highest dune in North Africa and it looked amazing. It had been 6pm when we set off and as we meandered through the dunes the sun was going down throwing a different light on the the vast sands all the time. The one thing I didn't quite expect was as the camels go downhill in the dunes their front legs sink into the sand and you end up having to grab hold like when they stood up at the start. Other than that trying to get comfortable proved impossible, but sat on top snapping pictures with one hand or no hands on the camel. On the top of one ridge our guide stopped and took the cameras and got a great photo of the group ( the one that is on the front summary of the blog).

We moved on for a while and then stopped to watch the sun disappear over the dunes.

Far End Of Todra Gorge
hard to describe how amazing it looks and it does it really quickly. There was still light in the sky and we carried on until we reached the camp. we dismounted and tried to find our land legs again :-D. Time to go and wander around the dunes, and I kept going and ended up on my own sitting on top of a dune as the darkness grew and the moon and first stars started to appeaar in the sky. An almost religious moment, well for me anyway :-)

The guides, plus the guys that had set up the camp had prepared the meal while we were off exploring, and we all sat round a low table and had two very large tagines full of meat and vegetables, with couscous, laid out in front of us. The Spanish lads and the Kiwi girls had brought bottles of wine with them to go with the meal. There were portable lights used while we were eating, but they attracted the big flying insects, and some folk were a bit iffy about them so the lights were moved back a bit from the table.

Paddling in me flip flops
After dinner we went out and all together ,and into the dunes by torchlight. We all sat about on the top looking at the stars and counting the shooting stars ( my son gave up after 30) . The lack of light pollution meant the sky was twinkling and the Milky Way was so clear it looked like low cloud.

Back into the camp and the hosts got out their instruments and started playing and singing, and then started coming round with various instruments for people to join in playing. It was good fun and when they were done it was now after midnight and time to grab a few hours kip before we would get up before sunrise. In the camp bed mats had been layed out with balnkets and we all went to sleep outside with a last gaze of the stars beore closing our eyes. It was just such an incredible feeling.

Hotels and restaurants set into the cliff

EDIT: Kwan who was on the trip with us uploaded his pics, and added Family photo(he was on the camel in front) ,the Spanish guys in the dusk on the dunes and the Night Sky as he had a better camera that could take long exposure shots needed to take the stars

 

 

 

MohamedS217 says:
l am a Mohamed a young bedouin Moroccan men I born in nomadic lifestyle in the desert in a tiny place that is very close to the village of Merzouga. i use to work guide for Hotel and company as Tour guide for tourism sector for more than 15 years, and i creat my own company and My experience and understanding guiding the touriste in desert and the country showing the real experience , My personality we are glad to have and share our experience and to show you our Desert and our way of life I speak English, French, Spanish,Berber, and Arabic. that grace to school of life Berber, and Arabic. that from our mother language.

-I invite you to be Nomad one time in your life



- connect with nature and to listened to the voice of the silence

- discover the magic of the sahara and life simple but full of secret.
Posted on: Mar 21, 2016
parag_rikhav says:
Climbing sand dunes is an art, and it's one I don't particularly understand. Dunes are no more than huge piles of sand – indeed, in the Erg Chebbi you can see the underlying ground, and it genuinely looks like someone has simply dumped a load of peach-coloured sand straight onto the ground .
Morocco merzouga

Posted on: Feb 01, 2010
rotorhead85 says:
Wow, what an experience! I'd love to do this sometime - thanks for sharing!
Posted on: Aug 09, 2009
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Road back down from Dades
Road back down from Dades
Boumaine
Boumaine
Writing On The Hill
Writing On The Hill
Road Up To Todra
Road Up To Todra
Todra Valley
Todra Valley
todra Gorge
todra Gorge
Far End Of Todra Gorge
Far End Of Todra Gorge
Paddling in me flip flops
Paddling in me flip flops
Hotels and restaurants set into th…
Hotels and restaurants set into t…
View back down the gorge
View back down the gorge
Start of the Stoney Desert
Start of the 'Stoney Desert'
sand taking over
sand taking over
Entering the gates of Rissani
Entering the gates of Rissani
First glimpse of the dunes
First glimpse of the dunes
Loads Of Sand
Loads Of Sand
Dune Over Village
Dune Over Village
Dressing the part
Dressing the part
Hi Ho Silver Away
Hi Ho Silver Away
Kids in front
Kids in front
No turning back
No turning back
Sand :-D
Sand :-D
On and On and On :)
On and On and On :)
Highest Dune
Highest Dune
Something growing :-O
Something growing :-O
Sunset
Sunset
Sundown
Sundown
Sun disappearing behind the dunes
Sun disappearing behind the dunes
Family Photo at sunset
Family Photo at sunset
Masking the pained expression you …
Masking the pained expression you…
Light fading
Light fading
Dunes
Dunes
Group photo
Group photo
I want to race now
I want to race now
Last Of The Light
Last Of The Light
Darkness Falls Over The Dunes
Darkness Falls Over The Dunes
The Spanish Guys on the dunes
The 'Spanish Guys' on the dunes
Dinner Time
Dinner Time
Berber Music
Berber Music
Here Come The Drums
Here Come The Drums
Moonbathing In The Dunes
Moonbathing In The Dunes
Night Sky Above The Desert
Night Sky Above The Desert
Bedtime Under The Stars
Bedtime Under The Stars
Merzouga
photo by: vvicy1