Touring Morocco by Bike (6.1): Imilchil – Dades Gorge
Imilchil – Dades Gorge (142km)
When I climb a hill, I expect a nice view at the top, and look forward the pleasure of going downhill, but if the downhill road is too messy and steep, it would be even more difficult than going uphill. In some extreme cases, I felt lucky because I was not coming from the other side, it is not consider as a hard ride, it is rather impossible. I had a strong feeling in this route, the last time I had the same feeling was at Song Kul in Kyrgyzstan. Every time I told Moroccans that I crossed this place by bicycle, I saw surprise and respect from their faces.
Day 1 (81km)
From Imilchil to Agoudal, it is about 35km gently uphill road with short hills on both sides, the valley is dryer and no more poplar trees as in Imilchil, so the scenery was less speculator compare to previous few days. It is a popular route for those tourists who drive their own vehicle (Most head to Todhra), so there are basic accommodation at each village along the road, especially at the scenic Agoudal, the road junction of Todhra and Dades.
The road to Dades is a smaller road which has no roadsign, you may need to ask locals for the direction, and it become a dirt road once you leave the village. It is a 25km dirt road, climb from 2300m to 2900m to the pass – Col Du Ouano, in general the steepness is less than 3% except the last section, so the climb is not that difficult, but It was very sunny and the area is pretty dry, I felt like being in a dry sauna.
The landscape is so strange after the pass, the mountain is just like a wrinkled paper, numerous round peaks are surrounded by deep valleys, I guessed it was a plateau and rinsed for millions of years, then I followed a nice 3% downhill straight road, it was unexpected because I have heard that the road is extremely bad, we really cannot rely on hearsay! After several turns, I realized I was completely wrong when I saw the winding road goes all the way down to the deep valley, there were few campers heading uphill and they moved so slow like ants, which showed how bad the road condition was.
That was just before sunset, so there was no sunlight in the valley, just like I was heading to another world. The road was sandy, slippy and bumpy, I needed to keep turning to avoid some holes, but it was not that easy, sometimes I couldn’t even brake because the surfaces were full of sand. I felt relief after I reached the bottom, when I looked back to the road, I really doubted if it is possible to cycle from this direction.
There is a auberge right after this zig zag road, room is OK and not expensive, 150MAD with breakfast.
- From Imilchil to Agoudal, there are auberge/restaurants in every 10km, Agoudal has several options for accommodation, some of them look pretty good, but I didn’t stay in this village. The last place to stay is Auberge Camping Aloutif, 10km after Agoudal.
- Gite D’Etape Ibhounba
- GPS: 31.844525, -5.730321
- The first auberge after Col du Ouano, the owner is very nice that let me to camp outside the auberge for free. Their room cost 150MAD with breakfast.The first auberge after Col du Ouano, the owner is very nice that let me to camp outside the auberge for free. Their room cost 150MAD with breakfast.