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Published: April 30th 2006
This too is Morocco
The diversity of this country continually amazes me. Even on the edge of the Sahara there are birches and fields of poppies.
After camp I took a few days to recover and relax before heading back over the mountains to Kelaa. The gorges are just off the main road that goes north from Ouarzazate towards Errachidia, where Maryam took me to have L-Eide Kbir with her family in January. I met another volunteer who had been working at the Errachidia camp and we spent the day hiking through the canyons along the road.
To get out of the town of Boulmane and up to the gorges we took a transit, which is a kind of van stuffed with at least twenty people and usually with sheep on top. It was a beautiful ride up through the canyons, following a shallow river. When we saw the road start to leave the riverside and head up to higher ground we got out and walked along the banks for a while.
It was a narrow little canyon and sometimes there wasn’t enough room to walk beside the river and we were forced to scramble up to the road and go along the hot, dusty shoulder until the banks opened up again. In wider places along the valley every irrigable inch of flat land was
planted in waist high wheat, sprinkled with red poppies.
At one point we spotted a little bridge and after crossing it found a side canyon on the other side, leading up and away from the river. This was what I had been hoping for and I imagined being the only tourists to have discovered the narrow little gorge. We hiked up it for a while, until it opened up again and the sun made us retreat back into the narrows. After exploring the weird rock formations, which reminded me a lot of some parts of Canyonlands National Park in Utah, we went back to the river and across the little bridge. Not long after I saw men who could only have been guides, leading a few tourists across. So much for an undiscovered pristine canyon. At least we had had it to ourselves, without listening to a guide’s voice echoing off the curved walls.
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