Day 7 : Ouarzazate

Can we start with a holy ****? We drove ourselves over the Tichka (Tish-ka) on highway N9 (Route National 9) from Marrakech to Ouarzazate (War-zaz-zat) and really pushed Mustafa to his limits.  This highway is considered among the top driving roads in the world According to National Geographic (we looked it up). N9 road runs between Marrakech and Ouarzazate through the Atlas Mountains (7,410 ft above the sea level) and offers amazing scenery with several twists and turns throughout the entire pass. Small Berber quant towns add a unique feel to the area. It was worth it to drive slower, be safer, take in the view our marriage. The road is a bit bumpy in spots but for the most part its quite good. Everyone that we talked to was freaking out that we were going to drive it. We heard that it was scary, dangerous, and super sketchy due to the huge busses that take up the entire road. Then we looked it up on the Internet. By way of pictures it looked newly paved, 2 lanes and pretty normal for a mountain road. So, in Brian and Marisha style, we went for it.

The Tichka. The Gps couldn't even fathom how twisty the road was. It looks like a colon and not a road. Our poor car looks like its skidding off the road because it hit a massive bubble tape spill. 

The next picture is an arial view of a section of N9 - just to show you what our 3+ hour drive was like. That is a cliff there to the right... just sayin.

(photo snagged from google images.... we do not possess a drone that we travel around the world with)
On the Tichka. An idea of the scale.
On the Tichka. A small village along the way up in the mountains. And we thought Southpark was small.
On the Tichka. Ok... You know how pictures NEVER capture the real thing....can't even begin to explain the massive dropoffs on is highway. Ca-razy.
On the Tichka. Some afternoon commuters on the highway.

Although definitely a mountain road in a foreign country... It's wasn't THAT bad. No guard rails made it a bit nerve racking in parts, and passing busses etc.... But no where near as bad as some of the roads we have been on in a bus in other countries. I guess in a bus it would look worse, being so high up and all. We gave ourselves the same goal, get off the mountain BEFORE dark. What it was....was freakin long. Holy cow. We were in steep, winding mountain roads for over three hours. Plus regular roads before that. We saw some really great scenery, and were glad we did it in a car and not a bus. We made it to Our destination on time.

Ouarazazate from the end of the highway.


Ouarzazate Is located on the edge of the high Atlas mountains covered by stony desert broken by green oases and steep canyons. Beautiful. It also boarders the Sahara desert with 300 foot high dunes covering the edge of the country and spreading into Algeria. Life here centers on the great "wadis" (rivers) which have created landscapes of canyons, gorges and oases filled with date-palm groves. We decided while planning this trip that we would break from our normal routine and get a little deeper into local life and desolate territory.

Through a friend, we were introduced to Peter, a Hollander living  in Morocco for the past 30 years. He has been a resident for 10, married a Moroccan girl and runs overlanding and motorcycle tours through Morocco's back country. 7 days total (5 in the rough) we would trek through the Draa valley, the High Atlas and the Anti-Atlas mountains, the stony desert, and the great Sahara. We really had no clue what we would be seeing or expecting. Peter told us: "We have a simple plan, but I will tailor it for you with what we do and see by how you are feeling at the time. We can change it up day by day or hour by hour."  Free flowing....just like us.

Cool houses. This is at Peter's indoor/outdoor living space for summer when its hot or winter when people smoke. If you looked over the edge near our room this is into the outdoor living room.
Our room at Peter's. It was so hot that even with the breeze, window and door open it was too hot to sleep in here..... Upper 80's at night.
Peter's house. The view from Peter and Zineb's house. We stayed here night 1. Our room was up here on the roof level. Dreamy.
Solution to the 80 degree room....pull your bed outside. Dreamy rooftop bedroom. Brian is still Sleeping and missing the great view of Ouarzazate in the background.

We can't even tell you how excited we were to start this part of the trip. We have only done something like this once in Thailand and it was on a much smaller scale. Looking forward to seeing parts of the country most people don't get to experience. 



OK wait. What are we thinking? As we were hanging out in Peter and Zineb's kitchen we look over to see this photo in a collage of many. Us: "haha funny picture. Who is that?". Peter: "me". (he is our ride the next 6 days).... Not only this pic but there are 2 others showing landcruisers on their side. Should we be nervous about our guide choice???
Not. Seattle. We couldn't be further from home ....
Our new chariot awaits. Poor Mustafa was kicked to the curb for this guy. A land cruiser which makes B ver very happy. Loading up to leave. Lots of ground to cover.... Peter went out and bought this 4 days ago in Spain and we are his guinea pigs to test the capabilities of his new rig.
Hmmmmmm.....Wow...Um, can we get our money back. That Casablanca movie is full of crap.

That John Denver guy is full of $h1t! This ain't no Rocky Mountain High! From Woody, on Sep 8, 2013 at 02:48PM

Kingdom of heaven. So we see this structure waaaay off in the distance and learn its the movie set from "kingdom of heaven". Come to find out we are entering into Geoff's wet dream. Tons of sword movies are filmed here.
Medieval chucking devices. Catapults, rock flingers, raid towers and all.... Back left is the tower they burned in the movie...except they show 100 of them using this same one.
Kingdom of heaven. Storm the castle Geoff! The castle has two sides each representing two countries in the same movie. They even put wheel scrape marks thru the doorway even though you never even see them. What's nuts is you can just walk around. No one in sight for miles.
"Brian get in...." This would never be out in the open in the the States.... You can even spin it. Looking for volunteers for the basket.
Its pretty cool actually. The front side of the building is used to represent one country.
And the back side is used to represent another country altogether. One of these out here was recently used in Game of Thrones.

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