Having just arrived in Ouzoud, we opted to have another day exploring the surroundings and reorganize the truck.
The oil drum that was installed in our secret compartment as extra fuel tank, isn’t really working out. The seal isn’t diesel-resistant and has leaked. We took the drum out and put it onto the roof. It looks cooler, and we have way more (much needed) storage space inside. We’ll just have to find some jerrycans elsewhere, perhaps trade for the oil drum.
We went for a walk for the rest of the day. You can hike down the falls pretty far, where it rejoins another river that leads to the bridge we crossed on the way to Ouzoud. I’d forgotten my camera when we started hiking, and when I had gotten it, I lost everybody. Talking to some local guides if they had seen the rest, one guy said sure, as he, amazingly, pulled out Lukas’ Edelweiss business card. He had another guy help me find them.
Lukas and the others wanted to hike down to the bridge, which was 15km of climbing with no path. I was to hungry and had no food, so I went back. The others got lucky and met some locals that gave them bread and mandarins in addition to the wine and chocolate they brought along. Meanwhile my improptu guide took me to an expensive restaurant and then demanded payment, as expected. Can’t always win. The others gave up on the crazy hike and got back around 6pm.
Even though we didn’t plan for it, we had to head to Marrakech to pick up Andi, our seventh member who was flying in there the next night. Marrakech traffic was pretty bad as they shut down half the city due to the UN Climate Conference. Some discussing with police did let us go past certain roadblocks, as we couldn’t fit the truck through many ancient city gates.
We then spent a few hours looking around the city centre of Marrakech while waiting for Andi’s plane. The market sure is nice, much cleaner and better looking than Rabat’s rawer version, but you get hassled a lot more. Expected as you seem much, much more tourists in Marrakech than anywhere else.
As we only left Marrakech after sunset, we camped halfway to the Atlas mountains, on a disused piece of road where a very sharp corner had been recently cut off.
The next day we headed into the atlas, on the lesser-used road from Asni to Taroudant. When Lukas spotted some trucks driving along the riverbed in the valley below, we drove straight in as well. An opportunity to use the truck’s huge clearance and all-wheel drive is never skipped, and we had a break and a wash in the river.
The climb into the Atlas mountains was one of the nicest areas we’ve seen so far. Carlo couldn’t wait to get back on the roof and spent most of the time there up. I’d caught a bit of a stomach ache at Ouozoud, just as my cold was getting better, and was taking it easy. It wasn’t bad that I was really sick, but enough to feel uncomfortable and not be able to fully enjoy it all.
On the way up they stopped for some cactusfruit. I’d learned my lesson in Greece and Spain, having eaten one without peeling (big mistake), and then regretting handling one even with gloves. The small almost invisble needles get everywhere. Even though I didn’t touch them I still got some in my fingers, I ca imagine how nice it must have been for Carlo who put them in his back trouser pocket…
Since we’d left late again, in good habit, we descended from the Atlas at sunset.
The next morning didn’t start too well. For some reason a hatch at the back was open, either forgotten or not properly closed. Unfortunately, our cabin-bed-construction was in there, and we’d strewn all the wood pieces over some 10km since the camp spot. We went back and found less than half of it, some we had to pry from the hands of locals that were already collecting it (of course some were quick to ask for some pocket money in return). We now have one sleeping place less in the cabin, and Carlo’s expensive tent is gone before we even got to use it…
Making stops in small villages is always much more relaxed. The locals are just curious and don’t hassle you much, you can buy something at a shop and not have to haggle for non-tourist prices.
We then finally made it to the Painted Rocks at Tafraoute, where Lukas had been going most years. I’d heard of the place from another blog, and it turned out even cooler than expected. The story is some Belgian artists poainted a lot of big rocks blue in the desert, and it;s turned into a hotspot for foreigners to camp. There weren’t many people there except us though, which is just as good.
There, we were joined again their by our friend Gustavo, Uruguayan adventure-biker and grillmaster-extraordinaire who even speaks German very well. We’d met him at Ouzoud where he’d made dinner for us. Since he arrived late, we returned the favor by cooking for him this time. The dish was my favorite vegetarian chili, so without meat, though he didn’t miss it 😉
We set up a bit more of a proper camp here, in anticipation of spending at least two nights. With my stomach ache dissapearing after 3 days, I really enjoyed this night again. It wasn’t so cold and the amazing scenery and night sky, coupled with Carlo’s great choice of music really helped as well. On top I had a pretty good sleep, which isn’t always a given with potential cold, snoring and varying quality of bed depending on which spot in the truck you end up for the night.
Now we’re doing some washing up and chores, we’ll explore the neighbourhood and prepare a bit more for truly heading to the desert in Western Sahara and beyond.