R&R in the Todra Gorge

The drive from Rabat to the Todra Gorge is mesmerising, like most of the scenery in Morocco. We drove over mountain tops through rain and snow then came out the other side into seemingly barren desert. You drive through kilometres of nothing, only to go over a hill and find yourself staring into a lush green oasis town.

The Todra Gorge turned out to be a welcome vacation after the monotony of Rabat. I’m almost ashamed to admit the part we were most excited about though. The hotel we were supposed to be camping at let us spend our two nights there sleeping inside a massive dorm room. That’s right, we got to sleep indoors! The showers were cold, and they turned off the electricity so the toilets only flushed for a couple of hours a day, but we got to sleep indoors!

The hotel was nestled right at the bottom of the gorge, in between two cliff faces and sitting alongside a stream where we spent our first afternoon washing clothes. We must be quite the sight with our big yellow truck and having not showered in about 5 days, because a bus load of European tourists pulled up and started taking photos of us washing in the stream instead of taking photos of the gorge!

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We spent our two nights here drinking coffee, reading, watching movies, wandering up the road to the villages nearby, and indulging in cheap Moroccan wine. It was exactly the time out that most of us needed – no early wake ups, no packing up tents, no need to be anywhere.

On our second day in the Gorge, myself and some of our group decided to drag ourselves away from the cosiness of the dorm room and tackle a half day hike of the gorge. I can’t say I was super confident when our tour guide rocked up in jeans and a cardigan, looking all of about 16 years old. But we managed to go up the mountain and come back down the other side with all of our people in one piece, so he must have had some idea what he was doing. We walked up and up and up for about and hour and a half, right through a rain cloud. The fog was so thick that we couldn’t see more than a few people in front of us for much of the way. It was an eerie kind of beautiful, and although we didn’t get to actually see much of the gorge it sure helped us work off our daily kofta roll and tagine addiction.

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There are camps of nomads scattered throughout the mountain tops. Every day they walk down to the creek outside our hotel, fill up water bottles, and begin the long hike back up to the top. It was bitterly cold when we visited them, and it’s hard to comprehend that anyone could survive up there. But they do. It’s a whole world away from the life I know in Brisbane.

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