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The Gorges: Dades, Todra, Rheris und Ziz

Four great canyons the High Atlas has to offer, besides countless smaller ones. While the Dades and Todra have long been known, especially the Rheris gorge was unknown a long time. And since the Ziz canyon can be crossed by a fast tarmac road, even this is little known, because people drive through fast. However, it is also the least spectacular gorge.

One of the most common questions asked by future Morocco travellers is what would be the most beautiful canyon, since the fast traveller has not enough time. So far my answer has always been that Dades and Todra both have their own charm, very different and a selection can not be taken. Now I am more inclined, however, to advise against the Todra Gorges. The bottleneck is reached by a good tarmac road through a beautiful oasis in only 15 km, and that means that it is totally overrun by tourists. If you have the misfortune to arrive at noon, in front of the two hotels just before the bottleneck are parked 5-10 coaches, not to mention the myriad of off-road tour operators altogether. They usually stay only for lunch; the passengers only walk a few meters into the gorge, so if you continue driving on the good asphalt road to Tamtatouchte you have the beautiful scenery alone.

Quite different, however, is the Dades gorge. To achieve the first bottleneck, you have to drive 27 km, and then it goes in tight, really breathtaking hairpin bends on the mountain, before a second bottleneck is reached. This steep section is very difficult for coaches; even Grand Taxis often refuse to drive. Therefore, this ravine of tour buses do not stop, fortunately, one might say. Here are just individuals or specialized tour operators who travel in small groups with off-road vehicles and often have a specific focus such as trekking or bird watching.

And this 35 km, before you must turn back again, are so incredibly beautiful, very much more varied than the Todra Gorges. It goes first through a valley of red earth, lush green oasis with a beautiful contrast and adobe kasbahs before reaching the strangely shaped ape rocks. Shortly before, at km 14, there is a place perfect for hiking in a gorge, which is reached only on foot. Then, the road at km 26 goes hard along the river, from where a footpath goes into the low-lying Dades canyon, which can not be crossed by car. And the serpentine route is simply unique; from the café Timzzillite at the height you have a crazy amazing view.

After 33 km the mountain walls close together, the road is hard on the banks of the Dades and may be flooded after the snow melt. After this narrow passage is the end of most beautiful part of the gorge and you can turn back again. The asphalt road ends at km 60 in Msemrir, then it continues to difficult trail, which is only possible for off-road vehicles.