Today’s title is somewhat ironic because yesterday the Moroccan Internet network has made the whims and our three friends on the go have not been able to send me any picture. They still managed to send me a text with some indications, via WhatsApp. And Pape told me that they were at the bottom of the Dades Gorges, the place of the opening image. The text you’re about to read is illustrated with photos found online on the basis of the areas crossed by Pape, Fabio and Nunzio
(the opening photo is taken by Jean-Pierre Jeannin)
“This morning when we went to have breakfast we saw the hotel’s swimming pool completely frozen: the cold is really biting right now, despite the beautiful sunny day. We decide to take it easy then, delaying the departure just for a while”.
It’s with these words that AlbertoPape opens the notes he sent me. And then he goes on, saying that after the previous day, chilling on an asphalt road, a high mountain stage now awaits our trio. About 105 miles to reach Ichimil, passing the beautiful Circue du Jaffar, whose road is ranked among the most dangerous in the world. The reason? Many passages are exposed to overhangs, in some places it is particularly impervious and … take a look at this video I found on Youtube!
However, the beginning is promising. The track is pretty wide and with a compact bottom. An invitation for a biker, to the point that Fabio plays the second trump card of the trip. “He takes a curve a little too wide – writes Pape – and forcing the braking with the rear wheel he skids. He then counter-steered and, with his foot on the ground, managed to get alive out of the curve! That’s what you call being really lucky. He says it’s all about his skills, but he’s the only one believing this ??”.
After about six miles, our three friends are already over 6560 ft, surrounded by a panorama of snow-capped mountains. The sun begins to warm up, the sky is of a shade of blue that we rarely see in Italy. A marvel, truly. The road becomes narrow and sinuous in the middle of a wood of cedars, and at every curve you almost feel the need to stop to take a picture.
They keep on rising, and from time to time they meet the shepherds with their flock that inevitably make a sign of stopping. Still about forty miles to go, and they get to a village of 10 brick-and-mud houses. We are at an altitude of 7874 ft: how do they live up here?
After a passage at 8530 ft, our trio starts to descend once again, and there are some villages larger than the previous one. They are places where life flows at another pace, and Pape writes that if you move on the motorbike you have the sensation of upsetting those people, even though the children inevitably run to meet our friends and give them their hands to high five.
In the valley there’s also an asphalted stretch that runs along the river, in a magnificent gorge carved into the mountain. The fun, however, doesn’t last much, as the road becomes increasingly battered, with detours for landslides or debris that descend from the mountain gullies. They make a couple of steps on some 1.3 ft ridges. Stuff that with his BMW GS Alberto says he could never pass. Some feet further down lies the river. The march goes on.
“The march goes on until we arrive at a point which could seriously be a full stop for us. The trail is there, but it is narrow and sloping, a couple of yards from the river. We are still there thinking about how to get out of it, when a shepherd comes out of nowhere. Who knows where they do come from, but every time you stop in the middle of nowhere, someone comes out. He suggests us with a gesture to continue in the riverbed for a couple of miles. With so many doubts in our minds we listen to him, and fortunately there’s not much water. We manage to wade several times looking for the way with as few rocks as possible. After a couple of falls and one hour lost, we get the hell out of it: we’re on cloud nine!”.
After 5 hours of riding on a dream track, here comes Ichimil. The town, however, does not offer much for the night, and the trio takes the lead by starting the route planned for today, Friday, 8th.
They point to the Dades Gorges. From Agudal they take another mountain trail, this one wonderful too, they climb up again, and reach the height of 9527 ft. The temperature hits 4 degrees, while the sun is setting. Immediately after the crossing they remain speechless (and we, unfortunately, without any picture). “The majesty of the High Atlas seen from up here is astonishing. We are on the top of the world and below us the Dades gorges start here and end 45 miles further downstream”.
“The descent is a sequence of warm colours on the rocks and breathtaking views. Another hour of riding and we reach the tourist part of the gorges, which compared to the one we’ve just seen is unimpressive. But we find excellent accommodation for the night”.
At the end of the day, our friends had travelled for 180 miles, mostly off-road. A unique show, they write.
Previous chapters here
Morocco 01 – Alberto’s Mal d’Afrique, when saudade crosses the ocean
Morocco 02 – Pape, Fabio and Nunzio in Morocco!
Morocco 03 – The African way of life
Morocco 04 – Following the footsteps of the real “Paris-Dakar”
Morocco 05 – Chilling in Morocco
Next chapter here
Morocco 07 – In search of emotions in the old town