Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Morocco to southern South - A Wonderful Journey

South of the royal road that connects Essaouira in Marrakech and Ouarzazate, Morocco extends a wilder and more secret: the Anti-Atlas. The villages, very typical, there are few, the most arid landscapes and even more grandiose. And the colors explode in the light of a sun that hardly ever does sail.

AIRPORT is in the Agadir, but no need to stay on two occasions in this city of concrete: the city of Taroudant, yet entirely contained within its walls, is just as close.

Taroudant is often compared to a small Marrakech - it has the ocher - and it is precisely its 7.5 kilometers of fortifications which constitute the main attraction.

We will tour on foot or bicycle through the neighborhoods sometimes quite modest, and do not forget to admire the walls from outside, especially at the height of two doors south. The kasbah, huddled in a corner, now occupied by both a neighborhood and a posh-like Moorish palace. The two large souks (Arab and Berber) complete the visit.

A 30 km away, the beautiful palm grove of Tioute is an excursion possible. It is in this little village in a cul-de-sac that the film "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," with Fernandel, was shot in 1954.

A few kilometers beyond Tioute, toward Tata, the real fun begins. This is the first mountain that is grandiose, yaw yaw, then, beyond Igherm, the landscape becomes increasingly arid. We pass through large areas of uninhabited desert, amazed that a good asphalt road takes the trouble to go through here. We watch the show in cinema-like wide-eyed at the window of the bus.

Down the road, Tata is a strange new town, which has several pink color old buildings. In the summer sun - the thermometer touches 50 degrees here in July and August. Road to Tata Tissint is a kind of halfway around the world. A few kilometers further, the area ceases to be inhabited and, further, the border with Algeria is closed because of the dispute between the two countries on the issue of the former Western Sahara. It is in this no man's land that in recent months, some adventurers seeking the remains of a Martian meteorite fell in July 2011, hoping to catch some three million rewards promised by NASA, this is the key to Wild West.

The region is still very poorly equipped for tourism, but a few isolated initiatives allow a first approach of the desert (see sticky). One bright day of hiking, and we may already be aware of the surprising diversity of the Moroccan desert: rocky plateaus, expanses of pebbles, sand dunes, forming crusts of sand like miniature mountains, salt ... And then Above all, enjoy this incredible luxury: that of absolute silence, including the evening under the stars of the Sahara.

Heading west then going through Igherm. Hundred kilometers of another great road, and here we are Tafraoute in the heart of the Anti-Atlas. This lively town is surrounded by pink granite rocks, as a multiplier to the infinity of those from the coast of Brittany. Tafraoute tourism is in the best sense: it is here hear sufficient travel agencies and bike rentals for everyone to explore at will.

And notwithstanding the grandeur of the landscape, no need to be champion cyclist pedaling up the Rochers blue, controversial work of Land Art of the Belgian Jean Verame the 80s, or up the valley Ameln in western landscapes: the gradients are reasonable, one might almost say family.

Keep going west, finally found the plain Tiznit. The Atlantic is only a short distance, but, surprise by going to the coast, the mountain quickly reasserts itself and the coastal town of Sidi Ifni is all ups and downs, sometimes breathtaking. The charm of this timeless place is also due to history. The city, formerly called Ifni, belonged to Spain, together with the Spanish Sahara until 1969.

The Spaniards are gone, but left - also an unusual habit in Morocco, that of the siesta - a few Art Deco buildings dating from the days when Franco wanted to make the city the hub of its (meager) colonial empire. The other buildings, all white and light blue shutters, inevitably recall Essaouira. In Sidi Ifni, if one is not surfing, we take pleasure in walking down the cliffs - and avoid getting caught by the tide. The bravest will grow up Lezgira, where two stone arches plunge into the sea, or Mirleft, where the beaches are more suitable for swimming.

And then, finally, go back to Agadir City. Agadir is primarily a martyred city, completely destroyed by an earthquake 29 February 1960. The city, which once extended to the foot of the Kasbah, was later rebuilt, and all is not missed, far from it, admittedly. The wide seafront leaves all the space walkers and in its way, the luxury marina is rather successful. Finally, a welcome transition relaxation before returning to the skies grayer.

Camping in the desert
In the western part of the Moroccan desert, accommodation is scarce. The camp offers Sidi Naït of Akka, in the desert (in the territory of the municipality of Tissint), a dozen tents with solar showers and comfortable common bathrooms in traditional buildings. Possibility of excursions and hikes in the map. No roaring 4x4 or collateral damage here.
Price is equal to the benefits and difficulties of supply of this unique estimate between 40 and 70 euros per person half-board with the season.


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