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 Atlas Mountains, Morocco

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Posts : 69
Join date : 2007-12-29
Age : 67
Location : Cheshire, England

PostSubject: Atlas Mountains, Morocco   Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:12 pm

Morocco - ah!
It's a fantastic place - a bit too hot for cycling though even in October
For a real challenge there is a long road south from Marrakech, well south east direction, that ascends a torturous climb over the 2280 metre pass, the Tizi-n-Tichka then descends among bright red mountain slopes on the southern and Sahara- facing exposed side down to the final town before the Sahara desert called Ouarzazate, total distance 204 kilometres.
This takes you over the High Atlas mountains and is one of only two routes that crosses these mountains, and the highest. The other pass being the Tizi-n-Test at 2092 metres south west out of Marrakech. No way am I claiming this climb! It was 45 degrees centigrade and I enjoyed the views from a minibus tour with Ruth. I also don't think she would let me cycle up there! Ouarzazate is an old Foreign Legion outpost and from there is another road that continues in the same direction over the Anti Atlas mountains pass called Tizi-n-Tinififft at 1680 metres.
Over there it's a descent to the Western Sahara where the road ends at Mhamid, distance from Ouarzazate a further 263 kilometres after another road pass of 747 metres, the Tizi-Beril-Selmane and the Algerian border.
Twenty kilometres north of Ouarzazate we visited the mud brick castle of Ait Benhaddou that's featured in many well known films such as Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia.
We also enjoyed walking in the High Atlas. I recommend the Ourika valley and a massive waterfall at the end of the valley where we clambered up smooth rocks alongside to reach the top and a fantastic view.
From a cycling aspect the Atlas mountains are a real challenge for the younger members of the BIG!
Marrakech itself has many contrasts between rich and poor. There is squalor and splendour. The palaces, kasbahs and riads are well worth a visit to experience.
We were there 9 days and enjoyed experiences you cannot have in Europe.
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