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Fri: Tafraoute – Col du Kerdous via the painted rocks (65km, 1100m of ascent)

We

Painted rocks

took the Izerbi road from Tafraoute as far as the sign for the painted rocks, and then picked a way to the rocks themselves, going through a small quarry. The rocks are intriguing. Then we followed our noses along a track to a junction with the Tiznit road. This is pleasant easy riding on smooth terrain. The route would be difficult in reverse: we give some GPS readings below.

We followed the Tiznit road, which was not busy because most traffic now goes through Izerbi. There was a small climb then a descent then a large climb to a saddle. A side road climbed up from the saddle to the right, but we were pleased not to have to follow it. Children gathered round us demanding stylos as we paused, and ran away screaming when Colin got his GPS out of the pannier.

We dropped down to a fertile valley with several villages and a mosque modelled on a Yoplait factory. The kilometrestones started lying blatantly at this point, declaring us to be permanently 36km from Tafraoute.

The

Col du Kerdous

road narrows and climbs pleasantly to Jemaa Ida Oussemlal where it joins the road from Izerbi. It issues onto a rather bleak plateau. There seemed to be a café serving food at the junction with the road to Ifrane. The final crest exposes a fine view over the plains, and the road drops a little to the Hôtel Kerdous, a former kasbah in a superb position which was our rest for the night.

After a late lunch we pottered down the vile gravel road in the direction of Kerdous village. After two and a half km. you come to a few houses set idyllically among barley fields, dominated by a large old whitewashed kasbah (photographable in the morning).

The Hôtel Kerdous has much to be said for it, but it pipes loud cheap music into its public areas. Complain.

GPS readings. These were taken at arbitrary points on the painted rocks route. 0503825 3281512 (Izerbi road), 0503689 3281480, 0503535 3281595, 0503367 3281871, 0503085 3281709, 0502640 3281743, 0502462 3281781, 0502543 3282359 (painted rocks), 0502478 3282229, 0502056 3282302, 0501686 3282519, 0501077 3283001, 0500464 3283074, 0500069 3283134, 0498924 3283415, 0498553 3283577, 0498330 3284276 (Tiznit road).

Sat: Col du Kerdous – Tiznit (57km, 250m)

Descent

A lovely fast sweeping descent from the col, then gentler ground. The road at one point enters a deep valley with massive cliffs. Food is available at Tighme. Beyond it Assaka, back from the road, looks attractive and traditional. There is a tourist restaurant on the road nearby and an ornamental arch which is ideal for posing.

From

Assaka

now on the road is flat and deserty and has little interest, yet we derived a perverse pleasure from riding it which is probably explained by the effortlessness of making progress.

The road never becomes all that busy, even on the approach to Tiznit, though the town itself has enough traffic. We had lunch in the Hôtel de Paris and chartered a grand taxi to Agadir for £15. It was a Mercedes and the bikes fitted in the boot once their front wheels had been removed.

Back in Agadir we sampled the hotel pool and bought a fluffy camel in a supermarket. The temperature in Morocco had been around 30° by the time we left (lower when we arrived). When we touched down in Gatwick it was 2° and the car windscreen had a layer of ice.

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