TL;DR for our Todra Post:
Alex did most of the research for our three weeks in Morocco and it showed– we were hitting lots of destinations in not too many days and the fast tempo was getting pretty tiring. When you shift spots every few days, you have a new round of looking for places to stay, places to eat, and things to do. And when you’re doing this with people who speak a different language and have shaky internet connections, everything takes twice as long as it should.
We also ran into a new problem– we were visiting places where the internet simply doesn’t have much information. On most topics, we’ve grown used to the fact that we’re just a few minutes of googling from being passably informed. But when it comes to small towns in inland Morocco, there’s no amount of research that will get you there. It’s very humbling to embrace this ignorance– every time I reach for my iPhone I have to remember that it’s no longer a connected device and that even when we find wifi, the Internet just isn’t much of an asset.
After a taxi from Merzouga to Erfoud and a bus ride from Erfoud to Tinghir, I can’t say I was thrilled to hop off the bus into the hottest part of the day. But Alex had told me about a wonderful gorge (exactly how wonderful can a gorge BE?) and, more importantly, it was on the way to the coast where I knew we would likely slow down a bit, so I was willing.
Tinghir exists for two reasons– its proximity to the Todra Gorge and its nearby silver mine. The town itself was pretty uninteresting, but we did manage to have an educational chat with a really nice rug merchant, shaking my belief that you should never get sucked into a rug store. We hoofed to our hotel (where we were one of three guests– a common experience in off-season Morocco) and relaxed a bit.
After some internet research, Alex found an amazing looking place deep in the Todra gorge itself. Instead of staying a second night in Tinghir, we decided to make the 30 minute trip into the gorge for a more scenic experience the following morning.
We were glad we did. The Todra gorge is a massive gash in the mountainous red landscape, but is as little as 33 feet wide in certain places. The drive was gorgeous– past a lush palmery (where they grow and harvest date palms) and a spooky kasbah (old complexes of moroccan buildings that are quite literally melting from age).
We stayed at Auberge Le Festival, which was one of the prettier places we’d seen in Morocco. And it was very promising that 10 of its 16 rooms were occupied by travelers– it was way more common for us to be some of the only guests wherever we stayed.
In the gully across from the Inn, some Berber nomads had set up camp. After settling in and grabbing a quick lunch, we set off on a hike. One of our hosts explained in broken english (the only kind we’ve found in Morocco– and even that is fairly rare) that we should follow the rock stacks and eventually we’d come to a spring where the nomads would often water their goats… Once we got there, the directions were shaky, but it seems like it’d be hard to get lost.
The hike was beautiful– beginning with ogling the Berber camp, finding the spring at the high point (locals had built a rock trough at the spring to make watering their animals easier) and then a walk thru a big dry riverbed back down the gorge. At one point we lost the trail but were able to work our way back to the inn without much scrambling just in time for dinner. The owner and his wife (who had grown up in a nearby village) were hanging out at a nearby table and entertained us with some drumming afterwards.
It doesn’t sound like much, and certainly pretty/rocky areas aren’t unique to Morocco, but both Alex and I agreed that it was one of the highlights of our Morocco trip.