Stage 10 - Gorges du Ziz
Updated: Apr 24
A very cold and windy night, but woke to clear skies. The morning wake-up and departure was delayed an hour due to the expected conditions (decision made last night by Douglas). Just as well, as even with all my layers plus the borrowed items, it was still cold on setting out at about 07:30. However, swinging left (south) out of camp, immediately felt the effects of a tailwind, which more or less, stayed with us all day. What a change of attitude do blue sky and winds at the back make.
We’re now in scrub desert, very stony ground. Some occasional signs of fields under cultivation, but mostly olive trees, if anything. Long stretches of road, usually good to excellent tarmac surface. There’s traffic, but it’s very minor and almost always gives either warning toot or passes with room to spare. Even the long-haul coaches, taking up the entire lane, give a generous allowance when passing.
For a long time, we’re running on a shallow tangent to snow-capped peaks off to our right (south) - these are the High Atlas. Very dramatic in the early morning light. Eventually we turn more south, start to climb and cross over at the Col Tizi N’Talghaumt at 1907 m. Swirling winds from almost all directions on the climb up to the Col, but once across we pick up that tailwind again and we’re literally zooming along to the lunch break.
A quick refuel and I push off again; still wearing all my layers, as it’s not yet noon. About 90 min later, I see bicycles at a petrol station / coffee shop and pull in, greet a crowd of fellow riders taking a break. I order a double ‘nous nous’ which has become my favourite Moroccan coffee; half espresso, half frothy milk. The sun is definitely out in some force now, especially out of the wind, so I shed leggings, arm warmers, jacket… manage to jam them all into various jersey pockets.
Leaving the coffee break, I join Brad and we cruise the final 30 km or so to camp. It’s the Camp Jurassique … lots of fossils and geodes on display. We’re in the Gorges du Ziz, still in the High Atlas, and about 1200 m elevation.
The afternoon is warm, almost hot. The campground consists of fairly stony ground, not particularly appealing. There’s a cold water swimming pool, however. Some the option is that or cold water showers, it’s an easy decision, and a gentle 2-minute swim does wonders. Looking around, I decide not to bother with the tent, I’ll just set up on the concrete benches surrounding the pool area.
A couple of bowls of very good soup, and a large mug of honeyed tea, and I’m right with the world.
Overnight forecast is about 13° so at least 10° warner than last night. Worse comes to worst, and the wind picks up, I can wrap myself in the tent fly to keep warm. No cellular service here in the Gorges du Ziz but passable Wi-Fi in the restaurant (plus superb freshly squeezed orange juice).
No photos tonight as Wi-Fi so weak; will try to edit this post tomorrow from Merzouga.