Date of visit: May 3, 2015
We’re going to the wide-open fields of Morocco!
Kasbah Road Drive
Departing from Ait Ben Haddou, where we had been for two days, we drove along the Kasbah Road. First, we drove about 20 kilometers south to the city of Ouarzazade. From there, we headed west. Our goal is to reach Merzouga, the entrance to the Sahara Desert, but since it is quite far from here, we plan to stay overnight on the outskirts of Tinghir, a town in between. We arranged our accommodation the day before on Booking.com.
From Ouarzazate (Point W), we joined the long stretch of the N10 road to the east and just kept heading east. Our first destination today is the “Dades Valley”. First, we’ll head for the starting point, Boumaine Dades (point B), and then head north from that town, where the canyon begins. Then, we chose Tinghir (point T) as our accommodation for the day, which is located further east on the N10. This is the entrance to another famous valley, the Todra Valley. We plan to visit here the next day, and then head for the desert town of Merzouga.
The N10 through the vast wilderness
The scenery on the way to Ouarzazate was also wilderness-like, but after passing Ouarzazate and entering the N10, the wilderness was even more vast.
Although there is quite a bit of elevation in this area, the road itself is flat and straight, and the quality of the road is solid, so it was very easy to drive. Because of this, the speed limit was 100km/h or 120km/h, which is quite fast.
I wanted to stop my car to take pictures of the scenery from this road, but I had a hard time finding a shoulder with adequate space. It was very difficult to find a shoulder with adequate space, because cars were passing at a very high speed in each lane and there was more traffic than I expected.
Although the road is flat, there are still ups and downs in places, so you have to choose a place with pretty good visibility. Still, we managed to find a good spot.
Change your Maps app to Apple
By the way, I changed my main navigation system to Apple Maps today.
Google Maps is certainly easy to read, but for some reason it didn’t give me voice guidance here in Morocco. On the other hand, Apple’s maps are crappy, but they are voice-guided and work with AppleWatch, so I decided to use this one mainly for this trip.
Sometimes Google Maps doesn’t have voice support in some areas, even Apple does, so I hope they do something about it.
The city along the Kasbah Road
This area is dotted with towns with a unique Moroccan architectural style called “Kasbah”. As you continue to drive through the vast wilderness, you will occasionally come across oasis-like towns along the river where you can see these Kasbahs.
Hence, the N10 is also known as the “Casbah Road”.
You can also find many carpet shops along the street, which are a staple in this area.
To the Dades Valley
We then arrived at our starting point, Boumene Dades, about two hours after leaving Ait Ben Haddou. From here, we leave the Kasbah Road N10 and head north to the Dades Valley. How is the pavement condition of the road?
This area still looks okay. The road is not so steep yet.
But gradually the road gets steeper and steeper. And the powerful scenery spreads out in front of you.
We went inside for about an hour, and just around here, we found a building on some kind of amazing cliff for lunch, so we decided to take a little lunch break here.
The twisty road leading to this hotel is amazing! I love these curves, though.
Arriving at the top of the cliff, we found a parking lot, so we parked there and headed to the restaurant on the terrace of the cliff hotel.
After a classic Moroccan meal (that’s all there is to it) at a cliff-top café, we drove again further into the valley.
The scenery gets even steeper. It’s a spectacular view but the road conditions are gradually getting worse.
At times, the rocks were bare and the road was on the verge of collapse. The road was wide enough for a car to pass through, but one wrong move and we would end up at the bottom of the valley.
However, about an hour north of the cliff café, we came to a place where there was no pavement at all, as if they were building a road from scratch.
Because it intersects with the road which runs in the Todorah valley when it goes up north for about 20 km more if it is possible, I wanted to go to there and aim at the hotel of today by going south, but I thought that it was reckless to proceed on the road without a road indeed and gave up.
About an hour and a half after we turned back, we were able to come back to Boumene Dades, the town at the entrance to the Dades Valley.
Go to Tinjil direction and arrive at the hotel.
We join the N10 road again. From here, if you drive east for about an hour, you will reach the town of Tinjil, which is the entrance to another canyon, Todra. Then, after passing through the town of Tinjil, turn north and after a while you will reach the entrance of the valley.
We drove the car for a few minutes while looking at the scenery, and arrived at the area where today’s hotel was located. However, I couldn’t find the hotel although there was a sign of the hotel.
However, when I parked my car on the shoulder of the road and wandered around, a person who seemed to be from the hotel approached me. He said it was OK if we parked the car on the shoulder of the road. The hotel was located in a valley down a steep slope from the road, and he carried our luggage there by donkey.
Now you are safely checked in.
Dinner at hotel, bedtime
Take a rest and have dinner at the hotel. Dinner is also available at this hotel. Or rather, there are no shops around at all (laugh).
Before dinner, I had a little chat with the manager of this hotel (a woman). Her English was very good, but she seemed to be an American and used to be a school teacher. She also showed me the hotel’s accommodation book, and it seemed that some Japanese people had stayed there in the past.
Well, we decided to have our meal in this riad-like space.
We could only choose Moroccan salad and tajine, as usual, with little variation, but both were very tasty.
The tajine in particular may have been the best of the trip.
After dinner, I took a quick shower and went to sleep immediately. It was a long drive and a steep canyon drive, so I must have been very tired.
The next day, we finally arrived at Merzouga. My first time in the desert. I’m looking forward to it. (To be continued)