All you need to know about the Todra Gorges Morocco
The Todra Gorges in Morocco with up to 300m high and only 10m wide at its narrowest part are probably the most impressive gorges in Morocco. Nestled in an idyllic red desert landscape this place attracts many mountaineers, climbers and travelers in search of extraordinary places for their beauty.
In this article we will tell you everything you need to know if you want to visit the Todra Gorges in Morocco.
Todra Gorges Morocco
LOCATION OF THE TODRA GORGES
The Todra Gorges are located in the south-eastern part of Morocco, 15 km from Tinghir, and are the gateway to the High Atlas. This valley is at 168 km from Ouarzazate and 160 km from Erfoud. Its location on the busy route between Marrakech and the Sahara desert in Merzouga makes it a place where visitors to the desert stop or even spend the night.
HOW TO GET TO TODRA GORGES FROM MARRAKECH
If you come by car from Marrakech you’ll have to go to Ouarzazate first. You have about 3 hours because part of the way is very mountainous, but in good condition. Once in Ouarzazate, you have 2h30 to reach the Todra Gorges. The car park at the start of this tour is 25 minutes drive north of Tinghir on the R703 just past the narrowest section of the Todra Gorge. The road to the gorges from Tinghir is easy to drive and is paved.
By shared taxi:
To get to the Todra Gorges from Marrakech by shared taxi you’ll need to take 3 taxis. The first one from Marrakech to Ouarzazate with a cost of 100dh, in Ouarzazate you will take another taxi to Tinghir whose price varies between 50 and 60 dh depending on the season. Once in Tinghir you must take a taxi to the gorges.
There is no bus from Marrakech to the gorges. The most viable option is to take the CTM bus that leaves every morning around 8:30h in the direction of Merzouga. You will stay in Tinghir and from there you can take a taxi to the gorges.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THE TODRA GORGES?
The gorge and oasis are most beautiful in spring, when the lush green crops contrast with the red rock. Unfortunately, in early spring, the snow can slowly melt and high rainfall can wash away the rock making the passes over the mountains impassable. So if you want to hike in the Gorges the best time is April/May.
In summer it can be very hot, which makes hiking difficult. Once the temperatures drop, late September and October are also good times to visit, although the colours are not as vibrant as in spring.
THE TODRA VALLEY AND ITS PALM GROVE
The Todra Gorges belong to the Todra Valley which is named after the river that runs through it. The Todra river crosses the mountains for more than 40 km and flows into the Todra Gorges. This river is important for the population of the area because they feed the great palm of Tinghir. This palm grove is composed of communal gardens where families grow fruits and vegetables. The vast palm grove is fed by ingenious irrigation systems, called sigas (or targat in Berber). Apples, pomegranates, apricots, almonds, olives, dates, cereals, ferns and the traditional Moroccan mint trees are grown here. Despite frequent flooding, the wadi represents the wealth of the farmers and the surrounding villages.
Todra Valley palm grove
CLIMBING IN THE TODRA GORGES MOROCCO
The Todra Gorges are Morocco’s (and North Africa’s) main destination for climbing. It has about 500 routes, the vast majority of them 6c and less. This place really has something for every level of climber. The rock is good quality limestone, almost all of which ranges from polished to perfectly vertical.
If you want to climb the Todra Gorges there are some agencies to hire with but if you want to go on your own you should know that in general the routes are well bolted but some not so well, which means it is a good idea to at least check with a local company first for the latest maintenance reports.
Climbing in the Todra Gorges (Picture: guías y picos)
TREKKING IN THE TODRA GORGES
If you are not a climber, you can also enjoy these spectacular gorges by taking a hike. This route is quite accessible to everyone and can be a very authentic excursion where you will share the path with nomadic inhabitants of the Berber settlements in the area who walk up and down with their goats, donkeys and mules. These people are very hospitable and you might even be lucky enough to be invited to have tea in their homes – a real Moroccan experience!
Several agencies in Tinghir offer guided tours ranging from a few hours to several days but this route through the Todra Gorges is quite easy to follow and a guide is not really necessary.
View Todra Gorges
Some technical data of the route
Difficulty: Easy to medium
Distance: 11.5 km (1.5 km more for a detour to the summit)
Time: 3 and a half hours (30 minutes extra for the summit detour)
Slope: 400m of ascent and descent (60m more for the summit detour).
Instructions for the walk through the Todra Valley
This walk starts at a large gravel car park that appears on your left just after the narrowest section of the gorge when you drive north along the R703. There you will see a path that climbs to the left off the main road. The first part of the path consists of a concrete staircase that quickly turns into a gravel track and climbs up the valley.
After about 30 minutes the path will take a left turn that zigzags up a ravine. This is the steepest part of the walk, but it is not long. After 10 or 15 minutes, the path turns right and flattens out. As the path flattens out completely (and the peak you have been leaving on the left disappears) the main path continues to curve forward to your right. Ignore this and turn left, walk up a slight slope of only 20 to 30m and you will come to a chair between the hilltops (marked 2 on the map).
OPTIONAL PATH. A small peak is a 10 minute walk south along a gentle ridge rise. Small landmarks mark the way. The summit is marked by a large landmark and has excellent views of Tinghir and the surrounding area.
From the saddle and continue eastward along a shallow ravine keeping a dry river bed close by on your right. After about 5 minutes the path turns right, crosses the dry river bed, passes through a circular walled enclosure before climbing up the other side. It then bends counter-clockwise through a nomadic settlement where tents may be present. (There will be caves).
Because the nomads have cut some roads themselves, it’s a little difficult to know which one to follow. But basically, having crossed the settlement, climb to the top of the ridge from where you can see the path you want as it disappears down the valley (use maps.me to guide you if you find this difficult part).
The path now heads east and descends slowly, with a couple of zigzags, before reaching a small flattened area from which a path descends to the northeast on the left side of a steep valley. This is a path that flattens out and then follows a dry riverbed as it descends towards the city.
Pass through the houses, find one of the temporary bridges that the villagers put over the river, cross over and make your way through the northern part of the Tinghir Oasis to the road on the other side. Turn left on the road and follow the Todra Gorge before you reach the car park again.
What to take on the walk
1- First of all, and as a tip, it is better to do the walk early to avoid the hottest hours (especially in spring, summer and autumn). Therefore, provide a jacket for the time until you get warm. Clothes should be comfortable (not rubbing) and a cap or, more in the local style, a turban is essential for protection from the sun. Also take a light raincoat just in case.
2- The conditions of the trail on this hike are relatively simple, no stretch is technically difficult with a pair of sneakers or trekking shoes will be sufficient. You will see the nomads climb up and down in flip-flops or shoes but this is their way, they are used to it.
3- It is essential that you are well hydrated before going and that you carry at least one litre of water per person for the walk. Drinks are available in the cafes in Todra Gorge towards the end of the trek, but you will need to drink before.
4- Download this map to carry on your phone (just in case…).
5- Although there are several cafes in the gorge, it is best to bring a snack.
6- If you have a good camera, you will not regret carrying it.
WHERE TO SLEEP IN THE VALLEY OF THE TODRA
There are many options for sleeping. For the more adventurous, you should know that camping in nature (not to the liking of the locals).
– Hotel Amazir
– Hotel Restaurant Yasmina
– Hotel Les Roches
– Hotel Etoile des Gorges and Hotel el-Mansour
– Auberge-Camping Le Festival
– At Le Soleil Campsite
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