This entry comes with a bit of a warning. What you are reading is our diary and not a travel guide, so unfortunately we cover both the good and the bad of our travels…..or rather should I say, the good and not so good! The first bit is a bit of “not so good” so feel free to skip forward to the start of our tour of Todra Gorge.
With our aim to leave at 10am, we had set the alarm last night for 8:30am. Andrea & Paul still had to wait for us as we were running at least 10 minutes late. This, unfortunately, is the fate of anyone who travels with us. Ask Anja & Joerg as well!!! Please accept our humble apologies for any time you’ve had to wait for us …..and for every time you might have to!
We’d had some time earlier to have an in-depth discussion about our route. We wanted to see if we could do the entire Todra Gorge to Dades Gorge route. The map showed a cut-through at Tamtetoucht and a road RN12/R703 from the tip of the triangle at Agoudal at the end of Todra Gorge and the R704 down to Dades Gorge. Andrea & Paul had met an overlander who had done the entire route but warned Andrea against it although we weren’t sure whether he had driven the cut-through or the road from Agoudal. We wanted to at least give one of the routes a try and it seemed that the road R704 from Agoudal might be the one. So end point for today’s drive was decided.
At 10am Andrea & Paul had decided to wait outside the campsite for us while we dumped our waste water in the drain on the campsite. While we were there, Fatima, Hamid’s wife (or at least one of the brother’s wives or maybe she was a sister, who knows?) arrived with a bleeding finger and asked for some help. I went to the cupboard at the back leaving the hab door open suspecting nothing. I got back with the first aid kit for wounds and got some antiseptic spray out to spray her finger.
And then the conversation started that really upset me and tainted our stay with them. “Give me,” she said pointing at the kit. I stupidly thought she meant the antiseptic spray. Not so, she wanted the entire kit and stepped up into Kaya and reached for it. Blocking her way and taking the kit out of her reach, I refused. “Give me”, she said pointed at the antiseptic spray. I put it away and refused but gave her some plasters. She stepped back out of the doorway and pointed at my scarves. “Exchange”, she said, “Exchange?” I asked. “Give me”, she said tugging at the scarves which by now were almost touching the floor and, thank goodness, locked onto the hook (the penny still hadn’t dropped for me – it’s been a slow couple of days for me not catching on). I firmly but gently asked her to leave and reached around her to close the door.
I realised later when, after the drive and stopping to find the gorgeous Mr T’s coat on the floor that while I had been getting the first aid kit from the back of the motorhome, that she had tried to take my scarves and had pulled so hard that so had locked the scarves onto the hook and broken the tab of the coat that had been hanging over the scarves.
And just so that I knew I wasn’t imagining it all, the review by the Spanish on the campsite only backed up what had happened with us.
Eish, it can genuinely be exhausting…..
The day’s trip begins here
Finally we were in the road towards Todra Gorge with Andrea and Paul leading the drive today. We entered the gorge and the views started almost immediately. The towering sides of the Todra Gorge are spectacular!
We picked our way carefully up the gorge on the narrow roads following the Todra River, sometimes right next to it and sometimes crossing it, winding our way passed tourists, traders, rock climbers
and troglodytes (yes!!here, living high up in the rocks).
We passed the viewing point which turned out to be the end of the spectacular views, through Tamtetoucht, passed the dirt track cut-through across to Dades Gorge that we were pretty certain we couldn’t take, the gorge now widening out to a mountain pass but still with some incredibly different and changing rock formations.
With the views opening up as the road wound higher and higher into the mountains, maybe it was time to stop? We had another chat and as we were so close to Agoudal, the tip of the gorges triangle, we decided to press on. But it took far longer than we realised. It was another 3.5 hours drive for us to reach Agoudal, stop for a short lunch and return back to Tamtetoucht. In retrospect, the additional drive wasn’t worth it especially in view of the fact that the R704 also wasn’t suitable for motorhomes to drive down to Dades Gorges. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
Up and down the gorge there is the ever present evidence of women washing clothes in freezing mountain run-off in the rivers, of them toiling along with the donkeys & mules, all carrying massive loads of hay, sticks, wood and deliveries. How they manage this, we have absolutely no idea! Even the cars are loaded to the hilt.
But where are the men? Oh yes, really straining themselves driving the cars……
Meanwhile we had turned around at Agoudal
after a warming bowl of harira (the fourth meal from our christmas lamb woohoo) and were making our way back up to the viewpoint.
On the way in we had passed some blokes at the side of the road who needed water but it was impossible to stop. We have always had a rule that if people need water, we would always stop to give them some. On our way back, they were now at a spot where we could stop
and just after that the viewpoint at the highest point of the Tizi n’ Tirherhouzine pass appeared
Turns out that the kids at the stop in Agoudal had scrubbed out Kaya’s name that I had written in the dirt on her bonnet (OMG she sooooo needs a wash!) and copied it onto Boris’ bonnet!!!! HAHAHAHAH Paul asks if this means they’re engaged now??!!!!
Finally we’re on our way down back to Tinghir, pass the Mabrouks at the campsite and set our sights for Boulmane Dades another hour away.
It’s been a 7 hour day today and we are all exhausted by the time we’ve stopped. Comfort food is on the cards, so a cottage pie each is the solution – if I’m making for 2, it’s just as easy to make for 4 …. and a very early night in our respective motorhomes.
|I really want to talk about AMS or acute mountain sickness. Now I can’t say that I definitely did suffer from it – I was never diagnosed by a professional – and I do have a tendency to be a bit of a drama queen, but I really feel that I was affected. There’s also more information about this at the bottom of the blog so you can be aware if you are ever find yourself in this position as well. |
Just after Tamtetoucht at around 1750m altitude, I started to feel a pounding headache approaching. I’m not normally a sufferer of headaches or migraines. 30mins later as the headache was becoming worse and worse, I took a paracetomol. At this stage we had climbed to about 2200m. Another 30mins passed and we were now at 2711m our highest point at the viewpoint of the Tizi n’Tirherhouzine pass, then dropped down to 2280m in Agoudal. My head was now thumping and stayed like this all the way back down to Tinghir and Boulmane Dades. More paracetomol and plenty of water, feeling exhausted and listless for another 2 days whilst we rested at our next stop finally sorted it.
For more information on AMS, you can read up here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/altitude-sickness/
In summary AMS:
* can come on from 1600m
* usually as a result of a rapid change in altitude (500m per 2-3 days is recommended to allow climatisation)
* 5-6 symptoms depending on source of info but if you suffer from 2 or more it’s likely to be AMS
* symptoms usually appear 6-24hrs after exposure but can be immediate
* affected by hormones (menopause) and diabetes
* having been to heights previously doesn’t mean you can always do it
* acclimatising will reduce/remove symptoms
If you suspect you are suffering from AMS, descend to below 1600m as soon as possible, treat symptoms with painkillers if required, rest and hydrate
More severe symptoms can be fatal and need proper medical care so if you’re going to be going to any heights beyond 1600 – 2400m, keep a beady eye out on how you’re feeling and let someone know if you don’t feel well.