atlas-mountains, morocco, day 1

Defender and G-wagon in search of remoteness

Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds MKIII
Lens: Canon EF 16-35 mm. f/4.0L IS

We all split up under blue skies at the wild-camp at Amskroud. Paul and Charlie were due back in Great-Britain within a few days, - but after only two weeks in Morocco Ken and I still had another four weeks stay planned and we hastily set off in the direction of Tafraoute at the feet of the Anti-Atlas mountains.

To our astonishment and big disappointment we hit the face of a wast, near impenetrable flood of mist and dust, reducing our line off sight to some 50 meters or so, after only a few kilometers drive from the Amskroud camp. But, as extensive traveling will quickly learn you, we could´t be bothered and certainly would not waste energy nor have time to stop, morn, or be simply frustrated about this, so we simply headed into the unknown featureless mas of grey, determined to make do with whatever we would be served as breakfast weather-wise.

To our great relief the grey matter turned into endless sights towards earth-colored hillsides and blue skies after an hours drive, the terrain soon revealed an astonishing view onto hillsides packed full with tiny narrow terraces constructed in a distant past to enable the cultivation of the valuable hard-to-come-by earth, and to fight gravity in order to hold back a portion of the ever more valuable water. Nowhere else in Morocco have I seen such a wast area of hillsides covered with these terraces.

On our way to Tafraoute while on a steep climb we stumbled over a old abandoned building tucked nearly into a cliff just a bit off the road. It´s strange to believe that this small farm most certainly have been inhabited by locals within the span of only my generation; busing with everyday sounds from goats, cheep, dogs and humans.

After filling up with diesel in Tafraoute we headed off into the spectacular Anti-Atlas driving on desolated and abandoned old tracks with a magnificent view to mountaintops and gorges. We drove onto a closed track, not knowing the reason wherefore, but after a good while faced a deep washout; and in the spirit of exploration I headed into the ditch destroying parts of my rear bumper in the progress. This however did not come as a big surprise to me, thinking that within six weeks of serious off-road driving in Morocco the loss of parts of my rear bumper would bee unavoidable.

We had great luck on this first day in the Anti-Atlas, we discovered some amazing tracks, climbing up over high-altitude mountain passes and descending into deep vivid picturesque gorges. We made camp cramped in between the track and a mountain in a narrow gorge, just before a lovely sunset, - filled with joy and big expectations for the next day of adventures.