Morocco: Amazigh
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours
 
       
  Morocco flag East of the Atlas: Dades River Valley  
   
Ouarzazate to Boumalne Dades is 115km. Despite the appearance of the compressed graph below, the maximum slopes is 2.5%.
 
    Topography from Ouarzazate to Boumalne Dades, Morocco
[Depending upon the quality of the underlying data graphs maybe only general representations of the topography.]
 
     
    With unobstructed sightlines from the horizon to the horizon, and plenty of sunshine this should be a good location to produce solar power. Energy planners recognized this as well and are installing a solar energy complex. The complete Noor project is expect to cost $3.9 billion and to provide power for 1.2 million people. It is, at least for a while, the world's largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant. CSP uses mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a small area. Electricity is generated when the concentrated light is converted to heat, which drives a heat engine (usually a steam turbine) connected to an electrical power generator. Heat is also concentrated and stored in a liquid salt solution, which allows electricity to continue to be generated for several hours after the sun has set.

The other energy project in the area is connected with Barrage al Monsour Ad-Dhabi. dams the Dades and Ouarzazate River. The reservoir it forms is used to produce electricity for a hydroelectric plant constructed in 1972. [In 2012, Morocco introduced policies to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.]

 
     
    Despite the sparse populations, calculation indicate that surface water and groundwater is being consumed at an unsustainable rate. To succeed in agriculture in most of this region you need irrigation. In places, there are elaborate systems of aqua ducts and irrigation canals. Despite the constraint a high-end development call the Royal Golf Ouarzazate (right) is being built overlooking the lake.  
     
   

In some spots, the water table is high enough to support natural palmerie or oasis. The palmerie at Skoura is successful enough to draw tourist. It now has, at least, a half dozen tourist class hotels, some in restored Kasbah and others in buildings made to look like restored Kasbah.

 
    Musee Theatre Memoire de Ouarzazate, Skoura, Morocco Musee Theatre Memoire de Ouarzazate, Skoura, Morocco Musee Theatre Memoire de Ouarzazate, Skoura, Morocco

Musee Theatre Memoire de Ouarzazate, Skoura, Morocco

 

 

 

On the southern outskirts of the palmerie and Skoura is the Musee Theatre Memoire de Ouarzazate, in the Kasbah of Imridil, built at the end of 19th century. The museum portion displays items from pre-Sahara Berber culture. Some of the most intriguing exhibits feature what is described as Berber-Jewish text. The large hall is used for festivals, celebrations, conferences and traditional performances.

 
    Skoura, Morocco Skoura, Morocco Skoura, Morocco Skoura, Morocco  
    From the highway, you would think that the palmerie is small and Skoura is a decent size town. In fact, the palmerie dwarfs Skoura, which just sits on a corner of its eastern edge. None the less, Skoura is a nice town with a large palmerie to explore and some interesting buildings and mosques.
 
 
    Berber omelet, Skoura, MoroccoSkoura, MoroccoA favorite find in Skoura is their version of the Berber omelets. It has some resemblance to huevos rancheros with green olives.

We also amused ourselves with a group of boys who seem to be amused by our presence.

 
     
    For most of the 50km between Skoura and Kalaat M'Gouna there is plenty of space and time to reflect on deep questions of space and time.
 
 
    Ait Sedrate Sahl Gharbia, M'Goun River, Morocco M'Goun River, Ait Sedrate Sahl Gharbia, Morocco Kasbah Ilouahen, Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco  
    The meditation ends and the visual drama level picks up at Ait Sedrate Sahl Gharbia and Ilouahen, 'suburbs' of Kalaat M'Gouna.  
    Rose, Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Rose products shop, Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Rose products shop, Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco  
    Kalaat M'Gouna is the commercial center for the area and is at the foot of the valley called "Valley of Roses." Roses are a big deal here. The are more like a wild rose than an English rose garden hybrid rose. To celebrate the rose the center of the traffic circle features an art piece of a rose and the specialty shops in town are all about rose products: rose soap, rose shampoo, rose perfume, rose tea, etc.  
    M'Goun River Valley (Valley of the Roses), Kalaat M'Gouna, Morocco Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco  
    Kalaat M'Gouna has a number of ancient Kasbah. The key to the survivability of a Kasbah is location, location, location. Those that are in locations that have a trait desirable by tourist have attracted the capital to convert them into hotels, that then provides a stream of revenue the underwrites the ongoing maintenance. Those that aren't attractive wash away.  These along the M'Goun River (Valley of the Roses) are in the midst of a tourist area but evidently not right for restoration.  
    Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), MoroccoKalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco
Near by is small, warm, cozy, Kasbah Itane. It looks like it was constructed for the purpose of being a hotel and cafe. The overall there is not vibe is not touristy and locals come in for a pot of tea.
 
    M'Goun River Valley (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Kalaat M'Gouna (Valley of the Roses), Morocco  
   

The richest scenery along the eastern slope of the Atlas is in the gorges that have been carved by the rivers that flow out of the mountains. A lot of the soil is sedimentary so there is stripes of different colors (red, gray, yellow, purple, brown, black), textures (smooth to coarse) and width. The geology is the craziest when the strata on opposites sides of the river are tilted in opposite directions.

 
    Village near M'Goun River (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Woman carrying a bundle of grass through village, M'Goun River (Valley of the Roses), Morocco men trying to coax a sheep into the back of a pick-up truck, M'Goun River (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Field of beehives, M'Goun River (Valley of the Roses), Morocco  
    Tucked into hollows are villages and people are working a making a living. This set of photos shows a woman carrying a large bundle of grass, presumably to feed some animals, men trying to coax a sheep into the back of a pick-up truck, perhaps on the way to market, and a field full of beehives.  
  Kasbah Amnay, El Kelaa des Mgouna, Bou Tharar, Morocco El Kelaa des Mgouna, Bou Tharar (Valley of the Roses), Morocco Kasbah Amnay, El Kelaa des Mgouna, Bou Tharar, Morocco Kasbah Amnay, El Kelaa des Mgouna, Bou Tharar, Morocco Tajine, Kasbah Amnay, El Kelaa des Mgouna, Bou Tharar, Morocco
Well up the gorge -- far enough up the side slope for a panoramic view of the M'Goun River -- in the village of El Kelaa des Mgouna, just outside of Bou Tharar, is the operating inn, Kasbah Amnay.
Kasbah Amnay, El Kelaa des Mgouna, Bou Tharar, Morocco
    M'Goun River Valley (Valley of the Roses), El Kelaa des Mgouna, Bou Tharar, Morocco M'Goun River Valley (Valley of the Roses), El Kelaa des Mgouna, Bou Tharar, Morocco M'Goun River Valley (Valley of the Roses), El Kelaa des Mgouna, Bou Tharar, Morocco M'Goun River Valley (Valley of the Roses), El Kelaa des Mgouna, Bou Tharar, Morocco
If you follow the M'Goun River to its source you will be on M'Goun Mountain, the second highest in Morocco and North Africa.
 
 
    Kasbah, Route of 1000 Kasbah, MoroccoWhile there are Kasbahs all over Morocco, especially along the rivers south of the Atlas, the Dades Valley is sometimes referred to as the Route of 1000 Kasbahs, and the section of road between Kalaat M'Gouna and Goulmima probably has the highest concentration of them. Unfortunately, the heyday of Kasbah is probably long past. The road might better be called the Route ofBerber symbols, Kasbah, Route of 1000 Kasbah, Morocco 1000 Kasbah shells. Many look best from a distance. A little closer some have finely decorated exterior walls covered with ancient Berber symbols (right). But get too close or go inside and look around and you will be looking at dark, empty rooms, useless the seasonal rains have collapsed the rammed earth roof and walls, in which case the light will be pouring in and you will be stepping over rubble.

Kasbah, Route of 1000 Kasbah, MoroccoThe Route of 1000 Kasbahs is a better market slogan and historical reference, but less and less of a statement of substance year by year.

Kasbahs were developed in an era when some architectural protection from marauding bands was desirable and the extended family tended to stay nearby for generations to help with the family business and Kasbah maintenance. Now-a-days the business plan is not so solid. The countryside is more secure, young people are more likely to leave for more desirable lifestyles in urban areas and western-style housing even in rural towns is deemed more desirable. At the same time, the seasonal of wind and rain is as destructive as ever so there is an unending need for maintenance on a Kasbah if it is going to be kept standing.
 

 
     Boumalne Dades, Morocco Boumalne Dades, Morocco Boumalne Dades, Morocco Gentleman, Boumalne Dades, Morocco  
    Boumalne Dades, MoroccoThe next town, northeast from Kalaat M'Gouna, on the main highway, is Boumalne Dades. It is at the foot of the Dades Gorge.  Like the Valley of the Roses, the Dades Gorge offers spectacular scenery and Boumalne Dades has a large health palmerie, both of which attract tourist and keep the local economy primed.  
       
   

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