Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Half Way

Two weeks in to my month here and I shall be very keen to come back for longer next time as the country sits very easily with hassle free travel.
Leaving Zaida I took a back road across the Midi Atlas passing through Aghbala - probably the most chaotic place I had passed through to date. Stunning mountain scenery gave way to El Ksiba via a tortuous descent but with the planned stopover venue closed I carried on through to Beni Mellal navigated at dusk as the huge souk was packing up - mayhem.
Another climb in to the mountains found me a quiet corner before en route to the remarkable Cascades d'Ouzoud I picked up two hitch hikers Patrick from Poland and Lisa from Taiwan who both had good English and made good company for 24 hours. The falls were impressive and fairly quiet - I stayed overnight in a shady olive orchard for £2.
Marrakesh was left for another time as I passed by heading for the coast - a good site south of Essaouira did the job - power, a shower and a chance to hand wash some clothes.
The coast south to Agadir was sublime and a small site at Imsouane will definitely be one to return to. A transition to even hotter climes was marked by the appearance of camels and banana plantations and the sun continued to beat down from dawn to dusk reaching the mid thirties in the afternoon.
Taroudant provided a fascinating glimpse in to life in the kasbah with all manner of trades carried out in small open fronted workshops - I soaked up the atmosphere during a two hour wander before heading off to the notorious Tizi n Test pass.
A remarkably engineered road snaked its way to 2100m where I stopped at the small cafe and decided it would be a perfect place to stay. The Berber family I had picked up asked me to take them another 20km but as I had brought them 30k I stuck to my guns - they were soon on one of the precariously overloaded lorries however - I guess they just got used to the comparative luxury.
A three hour walk to a nearby summit provided dramatic views down in to the valleys of the High Atlas - this south side sees little snow but I decided against further exploration this time as my left knee was causing concern again despite almost a fortnight's rest.
Today I have returned briefly to Marrakesh to restock cupboards in a largish supermarket - the descent from Ijoukak to Asni proving exhilerating. The Tin Mal mosque, a souk in Ijoukak and the stunning mountains all made for a memorable day.
Now I head over the Tizi n Tichka to Ouarzazate and the south - proper desert they say - with the Draa Valley the next major destination.
Photos covering some of the highlights appear HERE and the usual locations are transmitted daily (or more) HERE
Any news or views always welcome via email - I will be back in 6 weeks time to catch up properly!

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