Morocco: Moyen Atlas Mountains
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours
 
       
  Morocco flag East of the Atlas: Ziz River and Haute Atlas  
       
    Topography from Errachida to Er Rich. This section cross both the Haute (High) Atlas. The average slope is 1.5%, the maximum slope riches 5% in a few sections.  
    Topography from Errachida to Er Rich
[Depending upon the quality of the underlying data graphs maybe only general representations of the topography.]
 
    Haute Atlas Mountains, north of Errachidia, Morocco Hassan Addakhil dam and reservoir, Errachidia, Morocco Hassan Addakhil dam and reservoir, Errachidia, Morocco Hassan Addakhil dam and reservoir, Errachidia, Morocco  
    Ten kilometers north of Errichidia, at the foot hills of the Haute Atlas Mountains, is Al Hassan Ad Dakhil dam and  reservoir. The dam was built between 1968 and 1971 for the purpose of storing water for irrigation and to prevent seasonal down stream flooding. The reservoir is about 7 kilometers long. When the lake is full, it backs up the Ziz River at least as far again.

Hassan Addakhil dam and reservoir, Errachidia, MoroccoRuins of Kasbah can be seen on the top of table top hills along the river (right). The locations were probably selected because steep sides of the hills and the river provided the village some degree of protection from mauraders.

Al Hassan Ad Dakhil, the name sake of the dam and lake, was a direct ancestor to Sharif ibn Ali the founder of the Alaouite Dynasty, the current royal family. Al Hassan Ad Dakhil was brought to Morocco from Yanbu, a port on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, at the end of the 13th century by the inhabitants of Tafilalet (a large oasis to the south on the Ziz River) to be their Imam. They were hoping that, as he was a descendant of the Prophete Muhammad, his presence would help to improve their date palm crops thanks to his barakah (an Islamic term meaning a sense of divine presence or charisma).

 
  Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco
  Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco

Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco

The Ziz River's headwaters are about 40km northwest of Er Rich. From the reservoir to Kerrandou (40km), the Ziz River has cut a steep sided valley through the mountains. It is generally most picturesque and dramatic when it is narrow, but there are views of grand spaciousness and framing where the valley broadens out. Every curve in the road introduces a different combination of remarkable shapes, textures and colors to admire. The valley is often green on the bottom and various shades of gray, yellow and red on the sides.

Delicate pink flowers, with lush dark green foliage, emerging from the ditches also the highway, MoroccoBerber liberation or autonomy graffiti, MoroccoBesides the big views there are also some charming details, like delicate pink flowers, with lush dark green foliage, emerging from the ditches also the highway.

Berber liberation graffiti, The Zaabal Tunnel, and snow capped mountains (lower right) offered other changes of focus.
 

Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco

Zaabal Tunnel, Ziz River Valley, Morocco

  Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco Ziz River Valley, Errachidia-Er Rich road, Morocco Snow capped Atlas Mountains in the distance, Morocco
    Er Rich is a small town with a large presence, relaxed atmosphere and ample composition for photography:  
  Arches at entry to Er Rich, Morocco Market, Er Rich, Morocco Market, Er Rich, Morocco Market, Er Rich, Morocco Market, Er Rich, Morocco Market, Er Rich, Morocco
  Backdrop of Atlas Mountains, Er Rich, Morocco

Tajine restaurant, Er Rich, Morocco

Relaxed shop keeper, er Rich, MoroccoThe entrance to the town center is marked by sturdy dual arches that let you know you had arrived. The buildings in the town center are compact two and three-story structures. There is the dramatic back drop of the Atlas Mountains is visible from many parts of town. The market is large enough but not so large as to be incomprehensible. ("When is all this stuff ever going to sell?"). A nice assortment of café and eateries caters to the range of desire from coffee, fresh juice, tajine, a more extensive prepared meal, pastries and desserts. For a variation of an approach, the cage-free live chickens are living cage-free, with feeding towers and water, in the whole shop space (left). In keeping with the temperament of town -- or maybe it was just slow midday -- the attendant at a women's dress shop had his feet up and was enjoying something that made him happy through his headphones. A couple of moments that got captured are beehives for sale, a bicycle (and trailer) vendor, and an afternoon in the park playing botchy ball. Market, Er Rich, Morocco

Cage-free chickens in shop space, Er Rich, Morocco

  Beehives for sale, Er Rich, Morocco Market, Er Rich, Morocco Bicycle vendor, Er Rich, Morocco Women walking, Er Rich, Morocco Er Rich, Morocco Bike Friday at the entrance to Er Rich, Morocco
    The higher elevation, cooler temperature and more available water, brought by the Ziz River from the Atlas, must play a part in greening up the valley and increasing the farming.  
    Farming, Er Rich, Morocco Farming, Er Rich, Morocco Aquaduct / irrigation canal, Er Rich, Morocco  
        
    Savannah, Ziz River, Er Rich, MoroccoZiz River, Er Rich, MoroccoThe fertile valley was short lived. In the broad, flat areas, agriculture gave way to scrub brush.

Where the valley became narrower, the hills are to steep to hold enough moister to support much vegetation, and the valley flow is consumed by the Ziz river when it is in flood and pretty much scoured of vegetation.
 

 
    Donkey transport, Ziz River, Er Rich, MoroccoDonkey transport, Ziz River, Er Rich, MoroccoWhen the Ziz River is not in flood it makes a very good highway for donkey transport.

One of the realization of watching donkeys is appreciating the range of personalities they have.  Some are very cooperative and at the other extreme some animals seem to have as their purpose in life to do anything except that which is asked of them.

 
       
   

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