Morocco is home to Dades Gorge which is to be found in the very impressive High Atlas mountain range which runs almost the entire length of the country in a north east to south west direction.
The country lies on the north west coast of Africa, directly to the south of Spain and only separated from Europe by the narrow Straits of Gibraltar.
A Village In The High Atlas Mountains Of Morocco
In these dramatic desert mountains lie two stunning gorges, Dades and Todra Gorge. They have both become popular attractions for tourists holidaying in Morocco, many of whom leave their seaside resorts to admire their grandeur and to get a better flavour of this beautiful north African country.
Dades Gorge was created by the Dades River which has its origin in the High Atlas and then flows south through the gorge before turning westward to meet the Ouarzazate River.
The terrain of the region is mainly rocky and barren, but the waters of the Dades River have created lush green oases which are home to crops such as wheat, corn, walnuts and almonds . This lushness just accentuates the stark beauty of the fascinating rock formations which come in every shade of red possible.
The Narrow Road And River At The Bottom Of Dades Gorge
The gorge is around 60 kilometres long and begins just to the north of the town of Boumaine du Dades. From there it goes in a north easterly direction, twisting and turning constantly.
A road, the R704, follows its path, in some places climbing the sides of the gorge in a series of violent hairpin bends.
This road is known as the "Road Of A Thousand Kasbahs" - the word Kasbah in this context means fortress. There certainly are a vast number of such buildings. They have usually been constructed by a local leader both to protect his land and as an indication of their wealth. They often have high windowless walls and crenellated towers.
Typical Kasbah In The Gorge
As well as these Kasbahs, and the fascinating little Berber villages that seem little changed since biblical times, there are some very well known rock features to be seen in the Gorge.
Among these are "The Monkeys Fingers" and an area known as "The Valley of Human Bodies" where local legend has it that a party of lost travellers starved to death and were then turned to stone.
The Lushness Of The Valley Contrasts With The Surrounding Rock
Not only is the Dades Gorge well worth a visit but the whole of the 125 kilometre long Dades Valley is full of interest. At the village of El Kelaa M`gouna the area is known as "The Valley of The Roses."
Here there are beautiful hedges of wild roses and throughout the month of May the women of the villages will collect up to 700 tons of rose petals which are made into rosewater at a local distillery and sold to the many tourists.