Today we are going to cross the High Atlas, the way we drive is recommended to us by the patron of Camp Jurrasique, he drove it several times with his private car.
We have breakfast in the tent and leave in time so we can take advantage of the coolness of the morning.
The asphalt road leads us through the beautiful Dades Gorge, along the way we see green fields and orchards, most work is done by hand and using donkeys and mules. After the gorge the road starts to rise to a first pass of 1800m altitude, a first test for Milady, but also for Saskia, this is asphalt road and a reasonable width so where I can I drive to the left, as far as possible from the edge.
We stop to enjoy the view and take some pictures.
Then we continue, the road increasingly turns into a “piste”, dirt road with room for one car. Saskia is scared and afterwards she said, had rather disembarked. Milady is in her element, rocky and winding road are just fine for her.
Most hairpins should be taken in first gear and during the ascent I can just use second gear, but she does everything just two-wheel-drive and high-gear. Most exciting are the sections where the valley side of the road was worn by our predecessors, the car leans in the direction of the valley, I feel the tension of my passengers and I also feel my sweaty hands. The road is just wide enough for one car, we all four wonder silently what would happen if we have to pass an oncoming vehicle.
The last piece of High Atlas to the pass (at 2911m) we drive behind a truck with sheep in the rear, one of the sheep has two legs hanging outside the body. When we stop I realize how fearful Saskia was during the ride, she tells us she has devised all sorts of scenarios …
We take our time to catch our breath and just before we leave a car with a Dutch family arrivés from the other side, they still have to go down the slope and tell us that the rest of the drive is beautiful.
After the summit we go slowly down the High Atlas and drive through sometimes vast plateau and valleys whith grazing sheep and donkeys and small fields with all kinds of crops. The ride goes fine until we dive into an unexpected pit and extra sound comes from under the hood. The front axle appears to have knocked the pulley. It still looks reasonable, the V-belt runs smoothly on the alternator and water pump. Well I decide to mount a new pulley at home. We continue until we reach Agoudal Auberge Ibrahim where we have a drink. It is a beautiful inn where you can also camp, the facilities are clean and well maintained, yet we continue, it’s too early to quit. in the shop Saskia and Sonja buy pepper-and-salt couples, the income for the women of the village. The patron tells us that the rest of the route is paved, Moroccan asphalt we decide later, there are many parts where we see hardly any asphalt, but in fact the road is a lot better than the first part, and no more steep slopes.
The route appears to take longer than we expected and we arrive in El Ksiba in the b & b Saadi and Mustapha in the dark after 9pm. Saadi receives us with familiar Moroccan hospitality and make us feel right at home. We get the upper floor of the house and can cook, Saadi has a meeting in town. After our meal of macaroni with tomato sauce we go to sleep in a real bed, though warm yet wonderfully comfortable.