To the Desert – March 5, 2024

We are heading to the desert, but first we must experience two spectacular canyons carved by the Dades and Todra rivers. The Dades Gorge is characterized by fascinating eroded rock formations and folds in colours of rusty red and gold sedimentary rock. While the Dades river seems little more than a creek at this time of year, the floor of the Dades Valley is lined with olive groves, date palms, poplars, small wheat fields (for bread and couscous) and the occasional walnut and almond tree. To protect themselves from invaders, the Amazigh erected hundreds and hundreds of kasbahs. The number of crumbling mud-brick castles give the valley its nickname: “The Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs”.

Khalid dropped us at the entrance of the deep gorge of Todra where we walked along the road below the red limestone cliffs, staring up at climbers on steep faces high above. The high walls of Todra gorge are Morocco’s top rock-climbing spot. As we were leaving, we were approached for money for shoes by two young girls leading donkeys to fetch water from a spring in the gorge. Khalid referred to these girls as nomads. Some nomads continue to live in troglodyte caves, using the valley as a seasonal pathway to grazing pastures in the High Atlas.

Lush palm trees cover about 48 kms along the Todra valley, irrigated by an ancient network of pipes and irrigation canals. On the flat rocky desert beyond, we could see scattered bushes of tamarisk, an occasional herd of sheep and goats and lone donkeys being led by their custodians. The old town of Tinghir, which looked impressive to us, has been deserted for newer buildings which, as is common here, still used the traditional architecture.

Getting closer to the desert, we decided we should buy scarves for our camel ride. Khalid, dressed in traditional dress for the desert, helped us choose the right length for protecting us from wind and sun. In the photo below, he proudly shows us the “Berber” flag.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *