Dades Gorge and Erfoud

The Dades Gorge in the valley of the roses and the Todra Gorge provide some of the most spectacular scenery of the south.  These are fertile valleys where roses bloom in profusion in the Skoura and El Kelaa des Mgouna oases and where a large part of Morocco's rose and rose water production occurs.  Most people visits these gorges en route to Erfound and Merzouga, but it's also a wonderful area for private camping safaris.

The Dades Gorge  is a scenically beautiful section of the Dades River valley separating the Atlas Mountains from the Anti Atlas.  The Gorge is best known for mesmerizing scenery and the Kasbahs set precariously amongst it overlooking the river below.  Gravity defying rock stacks in all shades of red look as though they’ll crumble in front of your eyes and are deeply cut by gullies created by the persistent action of the river and weather.  The road north from Boumalne Dades, with its switchbacks and magnificent views is a great way to see the gorge itself, but one that is clearly used by large numbers of tourists as is borne out by the increasingly esoteric mix of road side attractions, ranging from the traditional jewelry and fossil stands, to an elaborate full sized biblical scene in papier-mâché  (including high-fiving messiah) on our most recent visit.

Once you’ve had a chance to soak up the scenery or the Gorge itself, it’s possible with a guide who knows the area, to leave this side of things behind and dig deeper into the surrounding country side of the Anti Atlas. Some of the (easy to miss) piste roads that lead off this are spectacular and properly remote and well worth taking a little more time to explore either by 4x4 or using a private tented camp as a base for exploring on foot.

Continuing west eventually brings you to Erfoud, a small town that for many acts as the entry point for Morocco’s western Erg, the Erg Chebi.  The dunes in this region are the main attraction and well worth visiting and climbing.  While certain parts of the area close to Merzouga can be quite busy with tourists, this is a relatively large and stunning expanse of sand and there are areas where it’s possible to access the dunes in isolation on a trek supported by camels and using a superb tented camp as a base for a day or two.

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