It wasn't cheap staying at the edge of the Sahara. If it were, we probably would have spent much longer there. But after our mini-excursion, we traded in our dromedaries for our two-wheeled steeds and made tracks away from the desert and back into the interior of Morocco.
Without the majestic sand dunes in the background, all the pictures I took seemed very flat
Taking a different way back, we encountered a variety of terrain - some hard packed gravel, grassy plains and sand, of course. I managed to keep my wobbly bike upright through the sandy stretches, not without much sweating and swearing. But when we reached pavement, the score between Neda and I for falls remained tied at 0-0! Phew!
Back on the main road!
Double-tracking back north through Rissani. Riding through the gates from the other side now
We are heading west across the country. Next big city is Ouarzazate.
Stopped to check out some ruins at the side of the road
Ruins at Tinghir
I don't think these were important buildings. It seemed there were squatters living in the ruins and there was a lot of construction material outside. Still, the colour of the remains looked quite nice against the blue skies of the nice weather we were having!
Riding through desert landscape dotted with palm trees
Our journey across the interior takes us through some tiny towns.
This felt like the real Morocco outside of the large cities and medinas.
Tajine break along the way
The bus tour people that we took the dromedary tour with the day before also left the same time as we did and since we were all headed in the same direction, we leap-frogged one another throughout the day. These tours have deals to bring their tourists to local businesses and restaurants, so the bus people had to endure sales pitches and overpriced food, while we could stop wherever we wanted to eat where the locals did!
After lunch, we noticed their bus parked outside a gringo/tourist restaurant. Haha! :)
We took a road north of Tinghir and stopped at a scenic overlook
The patch of green in front of the buildings is the Tinghir Oasis
The oasis itself is quite long, stretching 50 kms parallel to the road that we took. Tinghir is right in the middle of that long stretch of green grasses and palm trees. At the overlook, we met another GS rider, David from Germany. We envied how light his F700GS was packed for this trip, as he was planning to tackle a lot of the off-road pistes that would have been too gnarley for our overloaded mules.
Chatting with a fellow traveler, exchanging stories and tips
North of Tinghir, there are some smaller towns that we rode through
Neda noticed that there are different styles of clothing and robes in each of the regions we rode through.
Not sure if it was a fashion or religious thing. Here, they all wear white robes draped over one shoulder
Heading into the mountains
Todra (or Todgha) Gorge
A few kms north of Tinghir, the walls of the mountains rise up suddenly and the road winds through the gorge that was probably carved out by a mighty river at one point in history. Today, we ride parallel to a small, stony riverbed that is fed by glacial streams, which are dry at this time of year.
The gorge extends for several kms and the scenery all around and above us is marvelous!
We couldn't help but ride as slow as we could to take in how beautiful the orange rocks were. The colours were reminiscent of the hues we saw in Arizona and Utah.
Neda is racing mountain goats running alongside us on the dry riverbed
At the narrowest part of the gorge, vendors have set up stalls to cater to all the tourists that come here
We have to stop for a picture. Too bad not a lot of sunlight gets into this part unless it's directly overhead
Further north, the road deteriorates as not many tourists venture past the narrowest section
There is a piste that connects the Todra Gorge road to Dades Gorge further west, but it was late in the day and the forecast called for rain in a few hours, so we decided to turn back and take the main road to Dades instead.
Trying to find our riad outside of Dades Valley
It felt great to be back on the bikes and doing more exploring while the weather was good. We've got to decide if we're going to wait the rains out for the next couple of days or just bite the bullet and forge on in the wet... :(