Day 1 of a three day return TRIP to the dunes of Erg Chebbi, sees us leaving Marrakech in a Prado 4WD. The distance of 562 km is estimated to take 9 hours when driven direct, but we would be using this outward bound portion of the trip to looks at things along the way, incorporating an overnight stop in the Dades Gorge. Our second night would be spent in Berber Tents in the Sahara desert and the morning we would be driven back to Marrakech with only one stop for lunch. We organised the trip before leaving Australia. It came with a driver and was shared with one other person whom we met on the day.
This post covers the mid morning session from Marrakech to the 2260 m high point in the Atlas Mountains.[pinit]
It was surprising to see modern day shepherds resolutely protecting their flocks from predator vehicles, shortly after leaving MARRAKECH.
This sight was to become less frequent the next day as the desert landscape began to dominate.
In the unspoilt and lush Valley of Oued Zat, cultivation alternates between Olives, Citrus, Walnuts and vegetables while donkeys carried everything from grass to bricks.
Only 30 km from dry and dusty Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains offer a peek into a dramatically different world. Even if you lack the time to travel as far as the Erg Chebbi dunes of the Sahara, I urge you to consider a day trip to the High Atlas. They offer outstanding scenery, a spectacular road and a change of pace.
Tizi Ait Barka morning rest stop provides spectacular views and a Latte and Muffin.
Traditional Berber villages dotted with satellite dishes blend old and new worlds together.
The Prado faced the challenges of a road that snaked up to the high point of 2260 metres. Our driver turned off the air-conditioning to help the engine and as we had left the 40 degree heat behind in Marrakech, we had no objections.
The N9 from Marrakech to Tizi N Tichka Pass was built by the French Foreign Legion in 1936 and it’s views were spectacular. I can only imagine it’s well maintained myriad twists and turns to be a motorcyclists dream.
If you look closely at the photo below you can see a sprinkling of red poppies. Our driver said Yes, Yes in answer to my question – Are the flowers opium poppies?
The next instalments of the Journey continue to Ait Benhaddou and the Dades Gorge, on route to our destination of the Erg Chebbi dunes of the Sahara.
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