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August 21st 2006
Published: August 25th 2006
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Todra GorgeTodra GorgeTodra Gorge

These kasbahs are derelict and were abandoned 60 years ago, but the land is still being farmed
It was time to get away from the noisy medinas and head into the countryside to experience the real Morocco. Next few days were spent driving through some spectacular scenery in the Middle Atlas mountains.

First stop was Midelt with a lovely auberge and refreshing spring water pool. Took a wander through the nearby village and chatted with some local women.

Next stop was Todra Gorge. It's an amazingly lush valley with kasbahs surrounded by various crops such as pomegranates, peaches, apples, maize, alfafa, beans, cabbage, etc. Along the walk, we gorged on fresh figs straight off the trees. It's also blatantly obvious that it's the Berber women that do all the work in the fields and carry crops on their backs like mules. Apparently the men only till the soil, a grand total of about 5 days' work, and then head back to the cafes.

Just as a matter of interest, the 4 highest sources of income in Morocco are -
(1) Phosphate and minerals
(2) Relatives sending money from overseas (just like Cuba)
(3) Hash
(4) Tourism

Then it was onto Dades Gorge. Did a great walk through the valley which had some funky rock
Todra GorgeTodra GorgeTodra Gorge

Kasbah and crops
formations including some that looked like monkey fingers, and small Berber villages.

Finally we went to Ait Ben Haddou where they filmed a lot of desert and kasbah shots for movies like "Gladiator" and "Lawrence of Arabia". It's known as the Valley of 1000 Kasbahs as the hilltop is covered with berber dwellings that served as a safe haven on the main trade route. The place is still being restored by Unesco and owned by the government, but it's not an official tourist site. However this hasn't stopped one particularly aggressive local from trying to extort a 10 dirham fee from tourists to enter the site. Our guide had previously warned us not to pay him anything as it was a sham, so we just stormed on through. However several other group members were locked out as he had shut the gates on them, but they managed to barge through eventually. The view from the top was glorious and peaceful, and the sunset was magic.

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Just call me LawrenceJust call me Lawrence
Just call me Lawrence

There's no way I'm getting on that stinky camel
Middle AtlasMiddle Atlas
Middle Atlas

Auberge doggy that showed the way
Barbary apeBarbary ape
Barbary ape

Like a macaw monkey with no tail

It's a 5000 dirham fine if you remove a stork nest

A pre-wedding procession of the groom's female relatives with offerings for the bride's family
Berber cavesBerber caves
Berber caves

Mohammed checking out the view
Ait Ben HaddouAit Ben Haddou
Ait Ben Haddou

Valley of 1000 kasbahs
Ait Ben HaddouAit Ben Haddou
Ait Ben Haddou

Gorgeous view from the hilltop

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