Todra Gorge - Morocco

by Glyn Jones Feb/2008
This article has been read 18,746 times

Todra Gorge Climbing FAQ

What do you need?

Not a lot really. Minimum a 60 metre rope, 12 or more quickdraws, a bag full of maillons, harness, shoes and chalk. If you fancy multi-pitch routes take trad gear, slings, a helmet and cams.

photo
Gorge climbing, Wangy
Glyn Jones, Jan 2008
© Glyn Jones et al

Be Prepared

You need your passport, insurance, loose cotton shirts and long trousers both for women and men to keep cool but respectfully dressed. Toilet paper is also a very good idea! The language is Arabic but French comes in handy too. In the Gorge we found English speaking Moroccans due to the tourists visiting (even the children know many words in many languages).

A few words to help you on the way are "Salam-Alekum" (hello), "Massalama" (goodbye), "Shukran" (thank you).

Women to minimise any possible culture conflict wear clothes that cover your arms and legs (even a headscarf will help). Moroccan women that wear scantily clad clothing tend to be prostitutes. Also, if you wear a wedding ring you get more respect (that male culture again!).

How to get there

By air - There are cheap flights to Marrakech (Easyjet from Gatwick for example). Once you are there you need to fill out a visa form (do it on the plane to save time).

Note - you cannot get Dirhams outside of Morocco. We used the hole in the wall at the airport arrivals.

If you are not hiring a car then take a bus (5-10 DH) or taxi to the main bus station of Marrakech near Route Principale N24, it's near Gueliz. The Grande Taxi area is just behind the station.

The bus to Tinerhir (about 15km from the gorge) should be around 90DH and will take 7-10 hours est.

photo
South gorge entrance, Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones, Jan 2008
© Glyn Jones et al
Expect to pay no more than 300DH each direct to the Gorge (or more likely Tinerhir) in a Grande Taxi from Marrakech (5-8 hours) especially if the taxi is full. Make sure that you are willing to haggle with the drivers, as this bartering is part of the Arab culture and will save you a lot of money.

The taxi drivers might want to fill the taxi with other passengers (to get a higher fare). You may have to wait quite a while - especially in the afternoon when everyone is sleeping. Sometimes in these circumstances a 'fee arranger' has guided you to your taxi or helped in some way. These men expect a small tip.

Don't put too much faith in taxi drivers estimates of time - if they say a taxi will be back in 30 minutes then it is more likely 90 minutes to 2 hours their life is a much slower pace. A taxi from Tinerhir to the gorge proper will cost 10DH.

We decided to return to the UK by taking the overnight train from Marrakech to Tangiers, ferry to Spain, overnight to Madrid and the Train Hotel to Paris now that's fun! Got the idea from a holiday programme and http://www.seat61.com/Morocco.htm.

photo
North gorge entrance, rehab21
Glyn Jones, Jan 2008
© Glyn Jones et al
Where to stay

There are many options to play with. Wild camping (not liked by the locals), camping, roof top sleeping at certain hotels, stay with a Berber family or one of the range of 'hotels'.

Hotels:

  • Hotel Amazir a bit of a distance out from the gorge (about 5k)
  • Hotel Restaurant Yasmina Right in the centre of the gorge. Loads of people say not to stay here but that choice is yours check the lonely planet forum for comments.
  • Hotel Les Roches Again right in the centre of the gorge. We stayed here, clean, reasonable food. Cost 90DH per night (2006). The tourists that are bussed into the gorge eat here at lunchtime so gets busy but it also means the food is replenished regularly as there is no electricity when they turn the generators off at night.
  • Hotel Etoile des Gorges & Hotel el-Mansour these are at the start of the gorge. Good value for money. Many first ascentionists lived here.

Camping:

  • Auberge-Camping Le Festival - 5k through the gorge
  • Camping Le Soleil a little way before the gorge we took 45 minutes to walk to it from the gorge.

The Crags

There are approximately 20 crags to climb on going from trad to sport, slab to roof. Plenty to choose from and, as it is a gorge; there is always a crag with shade on it. The crag names from the start of the gorge.

  • Paroi Dulevant
  • Plage Mansour Gauche
  • Plage Mansour Droite
  • Aiguille Dugue
  • Aiguille Du Grabe
  • Pelier Du Couchant
  • Murciana
  • Jardin Des Roches
  • Dalle Hollandaise
  • C2
  • De Meuk Droite
  • De Meuk Gauche
  • Regression
  • Les Jardin D'Ete
  • Can Gullisch
  • Elephant
  • Jardin D'Hiver
  • Le Mur Du Scorpion
  • Les Poissons Sacres
  • Toxotiana
  • El Caos
  • Grotte
  • Petite Gorge
  • Petite Gorge Droite
  • Kours

Don't forget there is bouldering too.

photo
It's very, very high, rock waif
Glyn Jones, Jan 2008
© Glyn Jones et al
Hassan Mouhajir is the guy you need to buy the guidebook from (2006/2007). He goes to the Hotel El Mansour most mornings so you can buy it - the cost is 350DH (Dirhams, about £23) or 35 Euros and is home made but good. Don't think the routes are good if the guide says 'belle' cos that just describes the quality of the bolting. It also tells you when the sun is around so you can climb in the shade. You can ask the owner of Hotel el-Mansour (spitting image of Morgan Freeman) for his archive logbook if you don't want to buy the guide. Hassan will also belay/guide for those on there own.

Handy hints

Buy water outside of the gorge - Water costs 5 - 7DHs outside of the gorge (ie, the shop next to the Etoile Des Gorges) but 10 - 12DHs inside the gorge (you defo need 2 litres a day). Meat is in most main meals so that could be fun for the less carnivorous traveller.

Ask someone that has coins still left over from their trip to give you 10Dh (each) for the bus from the airport to Marrakech everyone gets banknotes from the cash machine but the bus driver will run out of change eventually.

Cash machine is in Tinghir. The markets are funky too for gifts and food. The food is better and cheaper here and in the gorge in comparison to Marrakech.

Maillons, maillons, maillons take some. Chalk take it it's hard to buy out there.

photo
Expert climbing goat, Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones, Jan 2008
© Glyn Jones et al
Guidebook terminology

  • Belle - the bolts are good
  • Coinceurs - trad gear
  • Casque - helmet
  • Corde de rappel - abseil rope
  • Sangles - slings
  • Aventure - multipitch
  • 12 dg - 12 quickdraws
  • Friends - doh!
  • Friends petite - small doh!

Oh and look out for the goat he climbs down from the top of the gorge (around a mile high) every day to drink in the river and then goes back up His route is about 5+.

Useful Websites

http://www.rockandsun.com/locations/morocco/todragorge.htm

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/ buy the book well worth it (2007 edition has hotel web and email links and a corrected map of the gorge)

http://www.javu.co.uk/Climbing/Articles/TodraGorge/TodraTopos.shtml for a few topo examples and a map of the gorge.

Thanks to rock waif, Wangy and rehab21 for their photos.


photo
Me on the train hotel, Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones, Jan 2008
© Glyn Jones et al
About Glyn Jones:

Glyn Jones is a regular contributor to UKC. He has returned to climbing after a eleven year hiatus and an addition of metalwork to his body (a motorbike accident in 1996 meant that Glyn almost lost his leg). He started climbing in 1987 and at his peak climbed Heading the Shot (E5) in the Dinorwig slate quarries and is still a slate-head. Glyn loves belaying his better half as she climbs much better than him! However, he's got his eye on an E3 for 2008.

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