How can you be sad when this lot engages you? I leave Marrakech on May 22nd 10 month into the trip. Going east, passing Ait-Ourir I follow the route to Tizzi-n'Tichka. Half way up the Tizzi-n I leave the main road, turn left to go further east.
Ihri is where I spend my night. Lahcen, the guardian of a truck for road building, invites me in his tent for an omelet and tea. In return I prepare b/fast and morning coffee.
Next day I follow the piste further east. I reach Demnate early afternoon where I turn south towards the higher summits of the High-Atlas. I cross Tizzi-n'Outfi later in the day. 2,175m - nothing spectacular yet.
Valley of the Oued Tessaout
In the early evening hours I reach the Valley of the Oued Tessaout. I leave the tarred road and follow the piste that leads up the valley to the east. Nothing is marked on my Michelin map. A new piste, only built fairly recently, I am being told.
The valley, it's more a gorge than a valley, is by far the most spectacular thing I have seen in Morocco. It looks, feels untouched, preserved for 100s of years only to be revealed at this very moment. Slowly my narrow path winds its way east. Soon night falls. I need to find a spot to stay soon. The sun has set already when I reach the crossing of just another valley that leads a to the north.
I park the Land Rover right in the bed of the stream. An old man, Mohamed I ask for permission to stay. It feels good when the locals know that I am here and who I am. After all it is their cultivatable land. Knowing about the beauty and calmness that surrounds me I sleep well. To late for sunrise but still early I get up and walk parts of the valley to the north.
I continue my journey late this morning. The scenery stays fantastic. It actually gets better through out the whole day. Villages I pass Ishbagen ??, Imi Mikes ??, I am not sure about the spelling and Amezri.
M'Goun in the distance and the Tizzi-n'Oulaoum
Amezri is where the route turns south. The M'Goun, further to the east, more then 4.000m, is the setting for the pics that follow. The sun sets in west. You raise the tripod and then it all happens by itself.
Not far away another episode
Driving towards the Tizzi-n'Oulaoum, the road takes me up to 2,800m. The sun sets just as I reach it. What a day. I still shiver when I write this.
After going over the Tizzi n (2,800m), I park my car for the night in one of the turns The altitude still 2,600m. It takes a while to believe what I have experienced. Too plentiful and beautiful are the images and dizzy my head.
I sleep like a stone after cooking an Italian risotto. Until 7. Much too late for sunrise. Coffee and leftover risotto for b/fast. "Bonjour" it is Lahcen who wants a ride to Skoura, I have no idea where he comes from. And he speaks as much French as I speak Arabic.
His mother tongue would be Tachelhit anyway. Together we descend the mountain on narrow roads passing one village after the other. And Lahcen seems to know everyone. Often we stop and are invited for tea.
I do understand very little what is being talked about but am fascinated nevertheless of the seriousness with which some matters are being discussed. I sit down and watch and begin to understand a little and a little more every time.
When we reach the sealed road it is late in the afternoon.
I have crossed the Atlas via a fascinating route.
On this side of the Atlas all is a lot different.
Vegetation is very scars. This is the desert and it is hot. Well this is end of May.
Via Tondoute I reach Skoura. Skoura does not inspire a great deal. So I make my way to Ouarzazate which I reach before sunset. Ouarzazate is familiar territory. I find my way round, know the Cyber Cafes. Chez Dimitry is where I have a Tagine Poulet Citron and a few beers. I need them badly after all the driving of these past days.
I am relaxed. Tranquille. Full of confidence. Happy. The images of the Atlas crossing are too vivid in my head. Ouarzazate is about to change a few things. I can feel it already.