The Dades Gorge, with its stunning rock formations and bold colours is not to be missed!
As you trek through it, the Dades gorge narrows and widens, as if it were inhaling and exhaling around you. The colours you will see are incredible, deep oranges and yellows flowing into purples, reds and blues.
We were blown away by our experience, it was easily one of the best one day hikes we’ve done in all our travels. Read on for our travel tale and how to organise your own Dades Gorge hike!
Arriving To Flooding In Boulemane Dades
We’d arrived a day earlier to Boulemane Dades to torrential rain and flash floods down the sides of the valley. A combination of intense rainfall and snow melt meant most of the roads to our guest house were now criss-crossed by gushing torrents of water.
We were huddled inside a 30 year old minivan with an engine way passed its retirement age. Laura got the short straw, and was perched in the back of the van on a makeshift seat.
The angle such that she was practically lying down as we navigated the treacherous conditions. If that wasn’t bad enough, the minivan was far from waterproof. Laura ended up soaked in the back of the minivan!
The journey however, was spectacular! A few days later we returned in better conditions to see it again!
Back to out treacherous journey, the road had been washed over with thousands of small stones from the valley above. A group of local boys were clearing the stones for passing cars. As we reached the clear part of the road, we realised this was entrepreneurship at its finest. They were charging cars to pass through their cleared part of road! We laughed, and happily slipped them a few Dirham as thanks for clearing the road.
We arrived at our accommodation for the next couple of nights (Chez Pierre) and settled in for the evening, ready for our Dades Gorge hike the following day.
Hiking To The Dades Gorge
The next morning couldn’t have been more different, once again our timing was impeccable (read: pure luck). Our guesthouse owner made a couple of calls, and we were clear to enter the Dades Gorge. What followed was one of the most interesting and beautiful day hikes we’ve ever been on. The colours in the sky and the rocks were incredible, even if we did have to navigate some treacherous parts of the flooded valley.
The trek begins in a tranquil and relaxed manner, walking through lush green forests alongside flowing streams and rivers. Around us, locals went about their daily activities. It reminded us again of the diversity of landscapes in Morocco.
After an hour or so, we reached the entrance to Dades Gorge. Things were about to get interesting!
The sweeping wide and lush green landscapes we’d grown accustomed to gave way to barren red and orange rocks and narrow gaps. We would traverse these areas for the next couple of hours, but this day would give us some unexpected challenges along the way!
A Flooded Dades Gorge Hike
Clambering through the gorge was so exciting, we were like two kids in an enormous playground. The path narrowed and widened, sometimes we would walk along the sides of the gorge as it gently sloped upwards.
As with most of our travels in Morocco, our timing with regards to the weather provided some unique challenges. Due to the torrential rainfall that fell the day before, much of the very narrow gorge was still flooded. Some areas were waist deep, which meant the only way to successfully navigate the gorge was to scale the walls and clamber over it!
We didn’t know this until it was too late to back out. About halfway through our Dades Gorge trek, we arrived at tricky part
“We have to go down there?”
Laura and I looked at each other, then at our guide, and then back to the 12 foot drop below us.
He confirmed this (vertical) plan of action with his usual grin and glint in his eye. By this point, we were already halfway through the Dades Gorge, and there was no turning back from this one.
Using Our Guide As A Foothold
And so, here we were, peering down this gap in front of us. Our guide was adamant that the only option was to somehow get down through this narrow pass and back to the valley floor. It was clear to our amateur minds that there were no footholds that we would be able to use to get down. How wrong we were.
All of a sudden, our guide clambered into the gap below us. He stopped halfway down, and motioned for Laura to step forward. Considering he didn’t speak any English and us no Moroccan, he gestured that the method here would be for Laura to stand ON HIS FOOT which was lodged against the side of the gorge wall.
Imagine that? A 10 foot almost vertical side, and a guide standing across the divide halfway down, holding himself there. He was expecting to hold the weight of Laura, and myself, on his foot as we made our way down.
As with most of our adventures in Morocco, from climbing Mount Toubkal, to getting caught in a Saharan sandstorm, once we were presented with the situation, our only option was to embrace it and deal with it. Morocco once again delivered on a great adventure!
We were not convinced, but at this point we didn’t really have a choice. Laura was first to go, carefully slipping herself halfway down the gap until her foot came to rest on his. He stood firm, and she was now halfway down the gap. All it took was a simple (!) five foot jump onto the valley floor and she was down!
My turn. Again I carefully slipped myself down the side of the rock face, until I tentatively rested my foot on his. Worried about my weight on his foot, I quickly launched myself off of him and down onto the valley floor. We were down!
Through The Gorge To Dades Valley
From then on in, it was easy. We took our time, and we genuinely marvelled at some of the places we came across. The rock formations and colours were truly mesmerising and beautiful, and we could easily saunter through the gorge at our own pace, soaking it all up.
A couple of hours later, we finally clambered out of the other side of the gorge, invigorated by our experience. From then on, we trekked through dried out river beds and sweeping landscapes. It was a majestic part of Morocco, and a place we would love to return to explore further!
The trek through the Dades Gorge is spectacular, and for a day we could escape everything. We truly appreciated some of the most incredible and beautiful scenery in all of our travels.
The Dades Gorge isn’t a famous landmark, which was clear to us given we only met two other people all day. It was truly a chance to clear our minds and appreciate how happy we were to have experienced such incredible sights in Morocco.
We arrived back to our guest house with smiles on our faces and memories of a beautiful part of the world, untouched and undeveloped, as it had been for hundreds of years. The Dades Gorge is not to be missed on a Moroccan adventure.
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