October 14 is a beautiful day, perfect weather, cloudy and without wind. I leave Midelt but after 20 km I have to go back because the trail ends at the gate of a reservoir, probably a hydroelectric plant. I continue on a paved road and at a junction I meet three Belgians riding BMWs GS who are asking a policeman for information. Since I also have doubts on the road to take, since I skipped the route on the GPS, I get closer to listen at what they are saying. The Belgian is holding my same road map and is speaking with the policeman in French. I understand where we are and that they are heading my same way, Ouarzazate, so I ask them if I can join them and they gladly accept.
The route, a mix of trail and road, climbs from the 1500 m of height of Midelt to 2700 m, offering a succession of breathtaking sceneries and landscapes, outlined by wonderfully blue sky.
Down from the mountains we enter the valleys where mountain oases are found one after another in a string of tiny villages with a few houses made of stones and mud.
In every place we are surrounded by joyous kids to whom we give cookies, candy bars and candy; we realize that these people live in poverty, wearing old and torn clothes, barefoot and disheveled.
They are all shepherds or farmers who live off their land thanks to the watercourse. Around 2 o’clock in the afternoon we stop at a little restaurant to eat and the Belgians, after hearing the menu, negotiate the price. After we happily filled our bellies and lazed in the sun, we leave and around 7 pm we camp in a small valley out of the wind at 1700 m over sea-level.
Here we find two women, each carrying a child, who beg for dirhams; one of the Belgians offers some food but they refuse, asking for money instead. In the evening, sitting around the campfire, I discover that that they were on my same trail two days ago and camped in the same area probably not farther than 1 km from the house with the dogs.
The night in the tent with my new companions is good thanks to the good weather even if at that height temperatures can run low and in fact I wake up often during the night because I am a bit cold. In the morning, after a cup of coffee and a frugal breakfast with cookies and a few energy bars, we enter the enchanting Gorges du Toudra which we think are the Gorges du Dades. Only after we arrive at the town we find when we exit, do we realize it. Later, looking at the road map, we see that the two valleys are parallel to one another even if a few dozen kilometers apart; coming from the North, we chose the wrong direction at a junction that took us to the valley to the left instead of the one to the right. However, no harm done, Nature’s show was still awesome and worth the travel to that moment. After taking some pictures and buying a few things at the market stands always present in touristic places as this, we leave through the du Dades valley that disappoint us: nothing special except for dozens of cafes and restaurants lining both sides of the road. The next trail takes us to Ouarzazate and is rather boring; here, I separate from my companions who head for Marrakech and would setup camp for the night in about two hours, while I treat myself with the usual 20 euro hotel where I will plan my route for Zagora for the next day. We say goodbye reluctantly, in these two days we got on well and in sync. We met by chance and this proves that you can meet interesting people on trips like this. If the tour was an organized group tour, we probably wouldn’t have met since everything in these tours is planned and schedules must be respected.
On paper, the stage of October 16 looks easy; paved roads up to Zagora passing through the Draa valley for a total of 200 km. At a certain point along the road, I see a sign for the waterfalls of Tizgui. Intrigued and since I have no hurry, I follow it. I have to leave the motorbike in a parking lot paying a few dirhams to a pseudo-guard in a fluorescent vest, who assures me that I will find all of my stuff on the bike when I return. The waterfalls do not impress me, even if I must be thankful there is some water since this is the dry season. To get to see them I must go down stairs dug into the mountain side until I reach the stream on the rocky bottom; it is worth spending half an hour to admire the suggestive sight in the canyon.
Back on the road, I keep coming across roadwork to widen it to 4 lanes like a highway. I am skirting the oasis that is several kilometers long, when I see on my GPS that there is a trail that enters the oasis and exits after a few kilometers. I follow it through a beautiful landscape of date palm orchards and other plantations. I cross a few little towns to discover that the trail indicated by the GPS, that should rejoin the main road after crossing a stream, suddenly disappears and I almost get stuck in the sand. A farmer suggests I backtrack or go on in order to exit and obviously one doesn’t backtrack to see things he already knows, so I choose to go on. The trail leaves the oasis as it gets closer to the mountains becoming more and more difficult until it turns into a mule track full of loose and pointy rocks. I am afraid I will get a flat tire, but I reach the end without any accident. Back on the man road, in twenty minutes I arrive in Zagora; here I stop at a few hotels comparing prices and at the end choose a hotel that in the 25 euro rate includes breakfast and … a pool! The owner at first wants 50 euro, but as per their tradition, one must always firmly negotiate to get a good bargain.
In the evening, while I am dining in the gorgeous garden of the hotel, I meet a Portuguese motorcyclist. We exchange some information and he tells me that the trail I intend to take is paved, so I realize that I can only cross the Iriki lake. He has the GPS full of waypoints and he share some with me through the Wi-Fi since we have the same device; he knows the country very well and gives me some advice on the easiest passage. In the morning, after breakfast, I bump into him and he informs me that he had looked for me the evening before to ask me if I wanted to join him for the crossing of the lake. Obviously, I readily accept for the company but also for safety reasons. When we finish crossing the lake, I realize that I could have left my bags at the hotel, returning there at the end of our adventure to leave and go my own way. Oh well ...
We leave around ten in the morning and at four in the afternoon we arrive in Foum Zguid where we stop at a brasserie to have lunch, and the owner accompanies me to the hotel.