When we arrived in Tinghir in the early afternoon, Hassan, a worker from our hostel collected us from the bus stop. We saw that there was an optional “free pick up” service when we booked but didn’t think it meant a guided short walk back to the hostel. We would have saved them the hassle if we knew that but still it was very nice of them.
After some welcome mint tea and biscuits we went to explore the town and to pick up some vegetables to whip up a tagine dinner. We bought enough for two nights for a measely 2AUD then returned to the hostel to start cooking. We chatted with the other guests as our tagine bubbled on the stove, then scoffed it all down and hit the hay, for the next morning we were rising early and heading to Todgha Gorge for a solid day of hiking.
The Todgha Gorge is simply jaw dropping. Huge walls of red rock surround you as you venture further into it’s mouth. A local who shared our taxi told us where to jump out, although it was still a kilometre away from where our hike actually started. As we began to walk there a car pulled up and a Morrocan trio visiting from London asked where we were heading. We discovered that they too were on their way to the start of the hike so we jumped in for a ride. Once we arrived we quickly said thanks and goodbye, as we knew we’d be moving at a slightly faster pace than our new friends.
For a while we were questioning whether we were heading the right way, especially because the track wasn’t clearly marked and we opted for no guide to save a few bucks. We climbed through the valley and over some reasonably treacherous ground filled with large boulders and loose rocks. We saw a nomad making his daily trip down for water so simply followed the direction of where he and his loaded up donkey came from. We soon discovered that the trail was marked with donkey shit the entire way up, so continued to follow the trail of nuggets further into the mountain.
When we finally arrived at the top we were greeted with a spectacular view across the mountains on one side and through the gorge on the other. It was quite windy up there so we found shelter behind a stack of rocks to break for lunch, then found a different path down which led back towards the village. This path was actually more treturous than the last, with a point where the “track” actually completely stopped and turned into a sheer drop towards the valley floor. We thankfully found an alternate route back around to a dirt trail which led us back to town and to our taxi back to Tinghir.
The following day Jamal, the very friendly hostel manager, took us to a place which had been serving Berber pizza for several decades. Berber pizza is a type of soft dough that’s folded over spiced minced cow fat and placed on top of a bed of pebbles in a woodfire oven. I think the pebbles are used to stop the dough from sticking to the base of the oven, but in any case it was fun slapping them off with a wooden stick. After our pizza breakfast and organising our bus ticket to Fes, Jamal took us for a drive around Tinghir’s greater surrounding area.
It was really cool to be able to see outside of town where a majority of Tinghir’s real locals lived; something possible only by car. Palm trees lined the streets and the snowy High Atlas Mountains our backdrop as we weaved through back lanes and back along the stretch of road leading back to town. When we returned, Jamal sensed that we hadn’t much else planned for the afternoon so kindly offered to walk us to the Ikelane Mosque and old castle in town to show us a bit more of what Tinghir had to offer.
As we were the only guests in the hostel that night we joined Jamal for some home-brewed date wine and locally produced red wine, as well as some general exchange of cultures and a few lessons in Arabic. After deciding we’d had enough, we said goodnight and left to pack for our long bus to Fes the next morning.