Day 12: Igherm to Tafraoute

Thursday April 18, 2013, 96 km (60 miles) – Total so far: 1,089 km (677 miles)

I rose early and quickly made my way out of the hotel and up the road I had been on the night previously. It was another beautiful day and the sun was shining as I winded my way upwards above Igherm. At the top of this climb I relaxed in the sun and had a breakfast of bread/nutella.

I know I say this a lot but the scenery here was again spectacular. This area of Morocco is absolutely stunning. I spent the morning climbing and descending over and around lush green rolling hills with flowers in bloom lining the edge of the road. I passed small villages clinging to the side of the hills and also passed the majority of their occupants who were out working in the fields.

The battered road above Igherm
Rolling hills and greenery

There was a ridiculous amount of climbing and descending on this road and again my route over the Anti Atlas mountain range was proving to be quite tough. As usual the heat was tiring me out earlier than expected. As I was struggling up another tough climb I passed a large truck pulled over at the side of the road. I said Bonjour to the French man who was standing beside the truck and he beckoned me over. I pulled in glad of a rest and got chatting to him and his wife. They were pulled over making a salad at the side of the road and invited me to join them. There was no way I could say no to that offer.

Julien and Sonia were driving around Morocco in their converted van. The interior of the van was awesome. The walls were covered in various pictures and artifacts from all around the world. There seemed to be some sort of small souvenir from every country Julien and Sonia had traveled to. They were driving all around Morocco in this and had some great stories to tell from their travels so far. I was very envious of the time they had and how relaxed they seemed.

We tucked into the salad which Sonia had made. This thing was amazing! I hadn’t eaten anything except bread, snacks and two omelettes for the last two days so this was heaven. I ended up having seconds and then thirds. This ice cold salad accompanied by some cold water was exactly what I needed on a tough day like today. After the meal they offered to take me and my bike to Tafraoute. The offer was very tempting due to the tough route that I knew lay ahead of me but I had to decline as I wanted to cycle every inch of the route I had set out for myself. I reluctantly set foot outside into the heat of the day, I thanked them again for their amazing generosity and we said our goodbyes as I continued on up the rest of the climb.

The awesome Julien and Sonia

Just after this climb Julien and Sonia’s truck chugged passed me and disappeared into the distance. Only a few minutes later I made out a man cycling in the distance. Once I got close enough to see the cyclist properly I was surprised to realise it was Ugo, an Italian cyclist who I had met a week previously on the road to Zagora. Around the corner, his wife Elena soon followed and we were able to have a catch up. Out of all the roads in Morocco it was a strange coincidence to run into them again here in the middle of nowhere!

We had a quick chat about what had happened in the past week before heading our separate ways again. They had found the heat down around Zagora tough going (I can’t blame them!) so had decided to put the bikes on a bus and head west towards Tafraoute before getting back on their bikes again. They recommended a good hotel they had been to in Tafraoute and I warned them about the hotel I had been to in Igherm! We said our goodbyes and headed off in opposite directions, them towards the sun and me towards dark imposing rain clouds.

Ugo and I
Elena and I

As I rounded one corner I was met with a pretty impressive view. Dark rain clouds had taken over the sky and sheets of rain were pouring down over the landscape in the distance. Thunder was roaring in the distance every thirty seconds or so as I looked on at the brooding clouds.

This was a definite change from the usual weather. I wasn’t looking forward to getting soaked but on the bright side it was a bit of variety. I continued on under the threat of rain from the dark clouds overhead, the main village I passed was nearly empty, everyone was sheltering indoors. Strangely though, no rain had fallen yet. I continued on for the next hour or so expecting to get drenched however it never happened. Eventually I came across the area where the downpour had hit and it looked like the rain had fallen pretty hard. Loose stones were dragged across the road and rivers which should have been nearly dry were flowing heavily. It looked like I had missed a pretty bad storm just by the skin of my teeth.

The rain clouds coming in over the mountains
Empty streets
Flooded river

I weaved in and out of deep puddles and over debris strewn across the road until I reached the final climb of the day. It had been a long day with a lot of climbing so it was great to have the end in sight. I slowly crested the top of this climb and had a great view down into the valley of Tafraoute ahead of me. It was a cold descent with the sun having disappeared so I was glad to get down to the flat road into Tafraoute.

The crest of the pass above Tafraoute
The hairpin descent
Tafraoute valley

I got a bit lost on the way into Tafraoute but soon corrected myself and found the hotel Ugo and Elena had mentioned. It was perfect, it was only 40DH for the night and was considerably nicer than the hotels I had been staying in since Tissint.

I spent the evening wandering around the mountain village. It was a really nice spot, the temperature up here in the hills at night was just right and the place didn’t feel too overly touristy which was a nice surprise. I spent the evening relaxing on the front balcony of the hotel finishing off my book before retiring to bed for the night.

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