We knew this was a tough leg – over 550km of driving plus taking in Dades Gorge on the way but never thought it would be so tough as it was. Time would be tight because we did not leave Merzouga until mid-morning so it was a case of just getting going and only stopping when we had to.
My Sat Nav also decided to play tricks again and took us around one of the big towns via the smallest roads, all through palm trees, small hamlets, and ruins for about 10km – we lost loads of time but saw lots of interesting things – but never had time to stop.
Again there were so many shops selling fossils and mineral-clad rocks, and one in particular we so wanted to stop at with life-sized model dinosaurs, but we pressed on knowing time was tight.
We did take one break stop just before Errichida which nearly ended in a total disaster.
Places to pull over were pretty rare on this road but I saw one with a huge tree and lots of shade, so turned off the main road. As we got close to the trees, I saw loads of metal spikes sticking out of the ground, so pulled over to avoid them. In my mirror, I saw Marion swing in behind me and go flying past me – straight over the spikes!
It all happened so fast that we could do nothing about it. I was shouting but Marion could not hear me. Then to cap it all, she put the car in reverse and went back over them again!! By now I was screaming to stop and leaping about all over the place.
By some miracle, the spikes were tall enough to be pushed flat by the tyres – I still do not know how she got away without a puncture! The tyres would have been ruined and they were brand new. Getting replacements out here would have been a nightmare too.
It appears this area was used by a guy who makes bamboo frames and sections, so the spikes give him the base of the framework – well not anymore as they are all bent up now!
We managed to slowly drive off this area and get back on the highway, stopping at the next garage to check for any damage – luckily there was nothing but red faces! Finally we could finally laugh about it, what a crazy thing to happen!
Errichida is a huge city, so we just skipped around the outskirts to avoid it – in hindsight with our limited time, we should not have gone all this way just to drive past, but it’s all part of the learning.
From Errichida, we went across miles of barren high planes – there were many signs warning of Gazelles, but we never saw any. This area is a huge reserve for breeding these rare creatures.
We stopped off for a break about 50km from Dades Gorge, trying to make a plan to do a round trip in the gorge so we could see everything, however, we somehow missed the first road and just took the second road, heading into the gorge.
It is easy to see why the Dades Gorge is so popular. It has stunning scenery and lots of running water everywhere.
Driving is challenging on these very narrow, twisting roads. All along the road, there are many places to stay and lots of small cafes where you can sit and chill (if you have the time of course!). A few km down the road, we pulled off just to have a break and get our bearings once more.
Marion has been here before so suggested we keep going and see if we can cross over the mountain onto the road we missed, then we would complete the loop, so we kept going deeper into the gorge.
The roads are really twisting, but we saw some amazing scenery. We eventually came to the most famous part of the road and slowly drove up this taking in the stunning views. We kept going and going but no roads were seen, finally, we made the decision to turn back as we still had a long way to go to get to Ait Ben Hadou before dark.
We really needed to get a move on – we still had 170km to go to get to Ait Ben Hadou, so we set off without further delay. The road is pretty good so we soon made it to Ouarzazate, the film-making capital of Morocco, then on to Ait Ben Hadou. My Sat Nav tried to get us to go “off Piste” at one point, but as it was getting dark, so I ignored it on this occasion!
Once in the town (more of a village really) we got lost in the back streets. The coordinates given by the place we were staying were wrong. This must be common to get lost because everyone we asked knew where it was!
On arrival, we were greeted by our hosts and shown our rooms, which were really nice and really homely. Time to crack out the vodka before dinner and a well-earned rest.
Dinner was really nice and we enjoyed a happy evening, before hitting the sack – it had been a long day today!