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Adventures of a short vet

Gorgeous gorges

MOROCCO | Thursday, 21 October 2010 | Views [1245]

After a much better sleep on thicker floor mattresses during which Ross said I talked in my sleep but luckily only said, “That’s cool”, we fuelled up with breakfast and headed off on our 6 hour trek through the Agouti Gorge. Apparently we were fitter than we thought as the scheduled 3 hour trek up the mountain only took us just over an hour (machines!), which is apparently an Intrepid record – and we weren’t even pushing it! So we dropped our bags off at our lunchspot by the river and killed some time by walking through the village. A nice relaxing lunch stop was followed by lazing in the sun, which was very welcome after all the walking.

Our final leg of the trek involved crossing the river about four times, and I cursed my decision of leaving my sandals in my main bag as I gingerly picked my way across the stony river bed through chilly water in my bare feet. Some sections were relatively deep (well, to me anyway!) and quite swift so I had to be careful not to slip with all my gear and camera, though Khalid was very gentlemanly in helping us across. The rest of the walk was very different than our treks through the bare mountains as we wandered through fields and scrubby bush. I even found some ripe figs – yum!

We arrived at the gite for a welcome mid-afternoon coffee. It was a beautiful place with three large rooms, a western toilet and HOT showers. After dinner that evening we were entertained by Khalid and the gite owner playing local goat-skin drums and singing Berber songs. It was great fun, especially when we had to come up with a song and I ended up leading the group in Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. I don’t think we will be winning American Idol any time soon!

The following day a three hour drive followed by a short walk took us to our final gite in Todra Gorge, a place world famous for the best rock-climbing trails in Morocco. The gite was the cutest place we’d seen so far – three floors with stone 3-4 bed rooms, a lovely central courtyard and cosy lounge/dining room. Unfortunately the beds were ROCK hard, to the point where if you sat down too quickly you could give yourself a spinal injury. After our obligatory sweet mint tea we had an amazing lunch of “Berber pizza” and salad before our afternoon adventures.

Most of the group decided to opt for the walk through the gorge followed by a visit to a local “hammam”, while Kirsten and I went rock-climbing. It was my first time doing a proper climb, while Kirsten was quite experienced, and I was worried that I would be holding her back. As it turned out the guide was great, setting up the climbs and then letting us take turns up the lines. He let Kirsten set up a climb and at one point, had her belay me while he went off to pray! I managed to make it to the top of 3 of the 4 routes we did (33m to the top), struggling on the last climb with my short arms not quite reaching the holds. Apparently the guide said I was quite strong as not many people make it to the top of their first climbs. Sweet! Though my arms and legs got more than a few grazes as I sometimes scrabbled to find purchase on the rocks – I may have the strength but I need to work on the skill!

We were glad to return to find the place to ourselves as we were the first to hit the showers to ease our aching muscles, while the others returned from the hammam in town. I was glad to have skipped it as it seemed to involve a lot of semi-nakedness and being scrubbed roughly by a large woman with massive breasts. Not really my cup of tea!

An early dinner was followed by two hours of carpet-buying as the owner of the gite showed us what seemed like hundreds of carpets hand-made by local women from the surrounding villages. Even I succumbed to the beautiful wares and ended up buying a silk throw for my bed. Now I just need a bed…

In the end I was so tired and my muscles so weary that even the rock-hard bed didn’t stop me from passing out almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Tags: agouti gorge, hamam, rock climbing, todra gorge, trekking

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