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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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Old 8 Nov 2009
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Zate Valley nr Marrakech

Has anybody been all the way to the end of the Zate valley piste? (40kms out of Marrakech en route to Ouarzazate) I followed it last week, after reading glowing reports in Lonely Planet, who generally get things spot on. I followed the piste for 20kms above the town of Arba Talatast and found it very uninspiring so turned back as I was getting near the end of my trip and didn't want to waste time. Just wondered if it became something special towards the end of the piste?? The following morning I stumbled upon a piste that WAS special. Coming down from the col of Tizi-n Test, just about 5kms after the col (going in direction of Taroudant) a piste leads off to the left. Only a few kms down this piste is a valley with 4 or 5 villages set among the most amazing terraces that wouldn't look out of place in China. Definitely worth a side-trip!
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Old 8 Nov 2009
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I did part of the Zate/Zat valley earlier this year. The route is tarmac (olive yellow in map below) until Arba Talatast. There's supposed to be some dinosaur footprints to the south west and I tried some tracks (red in map) but couldn't get through. It was only when I got back to the high ground at Talatast that I saw the track I needed heading due west.

Anyway, I went a short way south on another piste (nowhere near as far as you) where there's supposed to be the start of a tunnel that would provide an alternate way through to the south rather than over the Tizi n'Tichka, but then headed back again.



I then tried, successfully, to find the piste to the east that links to the main road over the Tichka. This was easy for about six miles (blue on map) but when I could see the road in the distance far below me the piste suddenly deteriorated and walking on ahead I found part was washed away and impassable to 4-wheel vehicles. I reckoned I could get through on the bike, but it took more than an hour of road building--moving rocks, using stones to fill gaps--to get the bike down the steep slope, then I gritted my teeth and went for what was by then nothing more than a mule track with a severe dropoff.

I'm still here, so obviously made it.

Tim
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Old 9 Nov 2009
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Hi Tim. I met three french guys on KTMs who had come over from the Tizi n Tichka road , probably on your blue piste - they were recommending that run. Maybe make time on another trip to explore the area more thoroughly. Nigel
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Old 9 Nov 2009
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This was the difficult stretch of piste AFTER I had spent over an hour improving it.
You can see the track coming down from the top left of the photo. My bike is in the
middle distance but I have already offloaded the luggage and carried it down the track.


The reason there's no four-wheeled traffic on the piste past this point!
It was the 'mule track' the other side that had me worried.


About to tackle the drop off. The beaten earth path is just over a foot wide.

Video clip: YouTube - Zate Valley to Tichka 'shortcut'

Tim
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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 9 Nov 2009 at 16:01.
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Old 9 Nov 2009
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Thanks Tim - found your photos and video clip very interesting. Whats difficult/dangerous going on a heavy, well-loaded adventure tourer may have been meat and drink to those guys travelling luggage -free, dressed like moto-crossers on KTM 450s! Hate those narrow off-camber pistes - I went along one like that to get to a lake up in Ait Bougoumez and a local had hopped on the back as a self-appointed guide. He was totally trusting of my ability (misplaced trust!!) and unaware of the danger of tumbling 100m down a very steep slope.
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Old 9 Nov 2009
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As you sound as if you're interested in different places... the cliffside granaries of Aoujgal to the southwest of Imilchil...

(copied from UKGSer posting)


I did a lot of pre-trip planning for the recent trip in April and got to visit a pile of new (to me) places. I found more examples of rock engravings (pic above) and I visited quite a few granaries. Historically capturing someone's grain harvest is a way of completely subjugating a tribe as they have no food for the winter and no seed for next year's crop. Hence there are quite a few fortified granaries which in Berber are called agadirs and tagadirts.

The granaries at Aoujgal are different as they are halfway down a sheer cliff face (there's some more examples of this type on the Talouet piste).


Close up from above


Wider angle


Follow the strata line to gain access

Video link (bit of shake in the voice!): YouTube - Morocco: the cliffside granaries of Aoujgal
Tim
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Old 9 Nov 2009
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That all looks fascinating thanks. Imilchil and the area round it, Cirque de Jaffar etc is high on priorities for next trip - also the area around Tafroute looks interesting. Nigel
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