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The Todra Gorge

Most tourist itineraries include a stop at the Todra Gorge, and with good reason. At its deepest and narrowest point, only 15km from Tinerhir, this trench through the High Atlas presents an arresting spectacle, its gigantic rock walls changing colour to magical effect as the day unfolds. In high season, the combination of its easy accessibility (a surfaced road now runs all the way through it), and the confined space makes it a prime hunting ground for southern Morocco’s most persistent faux guides and touts, so choose wisely when hiring; recent positive feedback in guestbooks is in most cases the only available form of proof of a good-intentioned guide. The area has been increasingly recognized as a rock-climbing hot spot and now attracts a new clientele of independent climbers. Taxis up to the Todra Gorge are cheap and drop passengers off at a grouping of budget hotels just before the narrowing of the gorge. Flash flooding has damaged what was a newly surfaced road up the Todra to the village of Tamtatouche, 32km from Tinerhir

(or 17km from the main part of the gorge). The road is still easily passable by car (though hotel owners in the gorge may tell you otherwise in order to extend your stay) and there is pressure on the government to repair the damage as soon as possible. A further 15km from Tamtatouche the village of Aït Hani is accessible by paved road. Minibuses run regularly throughout the day to these villages from the eastern end of the municipal gardens in Tinerhir, although arranging a ride in one of them just as far as the gorge (10dh) can be difficult. Returning to Tinerhir, you stand a better chance of a taxi if you walk back to the Zaouia Sidi Abdelâli, 3km south of the gorge, or hitch a lift with day visitors or other tourists.
Beyond Aït Hani, pistes continue over the Atlas via the village of Imilchil (famed for its annual wedding market), while another loops over to the Dadès Valley. You can arrange transport along the Imilchil route, either by chartering it at Tinerhir, or by paying for a place on a series of Berber lorries, which shuttle across for village souks. If you plan to drive the route, you will need a suitable (preferably 4x4) vehicle.

The climbing video by Peak Performance about climbing in Morocco featuring Moroccan, Petzl sponsored climber 'Said Belhaj'.

Climbing and walking

Having only recently been recognized for its climbing potential, the Hotels and excursion agencies of the Todra Gorge have yet to cash in on equipment rental and professional climbing excursions, which makes the area ideal for the experienced independent climber and underequipped for the novice. There are now more than 150 bolted routes, French Grade 5+ to 8, of between 25m and 300m, with new ones being added each year. The Hôtel el Mansour keeps an excellent French topo-guide for reference. Also worth consulting are hotel log books, which will alert you to any problems on the rock: over the past few years, kids have tampered with several access bolts, and even fixtures for top ropes. Whichever routes you follow, be warned that you’ll need all your own gear as rental opportunities are extremely limited and unreliable.Hassan Mouhajir, who is best contacted through any of the budget hotels at the mouth of the gorge, has been working on the most comprehensive topo guide to the bolted routes in the area and can be hired as a climbing guide for 500dh (per person per day).

Most of the guides hanging around the gorge try to lead visitors on walks, but for the following route, which takes around one and a half to two hours to complete, you won’t need help to find the way. It starts just beyond the narrowest section of the gorge. Once through the cliffs, look for a side valley leading quite steeply left (south) from the roadside to a pronounced saddle between two peaks – you’ll be able to make out the path climbing on the left flank of the hillside. An easy ascent takes you to the pass in 45 minutes to one hour. From there you could potter up peaks for some great views over the gorge, or follow the path dropping downhill to your left, keeping to a line of silvery-grey rocks that fringe a dry riverbed. After around thirty minutes, the path then climbs briefly to a second saddle, from which it then descends to the edge of the Todra palmery, near the Camping l’Auberge Atlas.

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BOUFOUSS is a freelance Blogger, Adventurer and a pet owner with a passion for interaction and share advices. He studied English Languistics and Computational Logic and loves cats and dogs.

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