The Tinerhir palm grove and the Todra Gorges

The Tinerhir palm grove and the Todra Gorges

Tinerhir palm grove

We’ve reached the day’s goal: the Tinerhir palm grove and the Todra Gorges. Tinerhir and its palm grove at the exit of the gorges are really beautiful, but we limit ourselves to admiring it from the road that passes to the west of the deep valley – we visited a palm grove south of Zagora and we know that from the inside, they’re rather confusing.

All around the irrigated basin of the palm grove are various villages that now almost form a large town. But only one of these villages is called Tinerhir (Tinghir). The Todra river is also transcribed Todgha.

The photos on this page were taken between avril 16 and 18, 2023, during our various trips up and down the gorge.

View to the northeast, at the entrance to the Todra Gorge.

Palms always form the highest tier, protecting other crops from the sun.

Around the large palm grove of Tinerhir are 25 villages living mainly from the cultivation of palm trees, with other crops underneath shading the rest.

As soon as you leave the Todra Gorge, i.e. as soon as the High Atlas abruptly ends on its southern face, the drought regains the upper hand.

These tabular mountains are characteristic of the region between Erfoud and Ouarzazate.

Todra Gorge

We check in at the Hotel Yasmina in the middle of the narrow gorges, less than two kilometers from the end of the palm grove. Don’t be put off by the dozen or so buses and 4×4s parked in front of the two hotels. Out of season, they’re only there to drink coffee or tea; in the evening, they’re all gone. However, the hotel is not really to be recommended. On the one hand, it’s cold (maybe it’s nice in summer), it’s not really cheap, and on half-board you’re served the same meal on two consecutive evenings. Further upstream, there are a few inns that are undoubtedly more interesting.

Here, the width of the valley is no more than 50 meters, and the surrounding cliffs rise more than 200 meters above the water level.

Of course, this spectacle attracts tourists, and no organized tour of Morocco fails to pass through here. It’s also due to the fact that the site is easily accessible, at least compared to other gorges in the southern High Atlas, such as the Dades. The buses in the photo clearly document this situation, arriving as early as 9am. Sometimes there are also hordes of 4×4s, more or less parked in the Todra. Most tourists stop here and don’t go further up the gorge, mainly because the road has been in such poor condition since the spring of 2023.

After a rest in the hotel room, we set off again. But on the afternoon of avril 17, the weather is changeable. Heavy clouds pass over the High Atlas. We drove up to the Todra Gorge, but it was raining. A nice change from Merzouga. In 2023, the road is in very poor condition, having been washed away by a storm. But it’s open. A few workers are visible, but with their work train, they’ll be at least ten years old. Trucks have to pass through the dry bed of the wadi, and tourist buses no longer go by.

View upstream. Here, the gorges widen a little and there are ancillary valleys, but the vertical slopes are as impressive as ever. Climbers can often be seen on the right-hand flanks. The river is dry here, but it can swell. In early 2023, it tore up and destroyed a large part of the road.

It’s only when you look at the details that you realize that this must be a human dwelling. Clothes are laid out to dry and, above all, the ceiling of the semi-grotto is blackened with soot.

About 1.5 kilometers upstream from Hotel Yasmina, there are a few climbing routes on the left bank.

Flooding in winter 2022-2023 seriously damaged the road in the Gorges de a Todra. This road also deserts the high plateaus beyond. Although there are some twenty very adventurous crossings, it’s still possible to get through by car or minibus. Trucks sometimes have to use a temporary track at the bottom of the river.

The road climbs steadily above Auberge Le Festival.

On the high plateau between Tamtatouchte and Aït Attouch, the weather gets worse and worse.

This long, rocky ridge, seen here lengthways, marks the boundary of the plain to the south-east of Aït Hani.

We turn back at the small pass south of Aït Hani, at around 1920 m. The rain is mixed with snow and we don’t want to risk anything with the smooth summer tires of the rental car.

This is not a real pass south of Aït Hani, but rather a walk through the landscape. In fact, the Todra, which forms the great gorges further downstream, pierces this walk further to the east; in the photo, it can be seen crossing the plain. The weather isn’t always fine on these high plateaus. We are indeed close to the main ridge of the High Atlas massif.

These high plateaus lie at an altitude of over 1,700 m. Only hardy plants such as corn and alfalfa (to feed the donkeys) grow here.

These stone and adobe clay constructions are also found on the high plateaus of the Haut-Atlas, a region where it rains quite often. You can clearly see the dampness rising up the walls.

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