A whole lot of Morocco reminded me of the landscape of the American west. Canyons and gorges and stretches of deserts and arroyos. I tried to explain to someone (in French) how much like Arizona it reminded me of, but I got a puzzled stare. So I went for "c'est similaire a sauvage ouest Américain" and at least got recognition that yes, indeed, this is the Wild West.
It was beautiful. This area was filled with Berber villages and settlements. Goat herders living in caves in the mountains, and rivers and oasis and huge date palms clustered around them.
The sunsets here were amazing. Sunrises, not so much- the mountains blocked most of the morning light. Lesson learned: sleep in!
It was an altogether wild place.
This shop was carved out of a mountainside. It was a cave inside, with a door installed.
Products with Rose, rosewater, and aragon oil were ubiquitous in this area.
High up a winding mountain road, the Dades gorge.
Not far from Dades is the Todra Gorge, which is popular with rock climbers and pesty pushy vendors.
The river here bubbled up from an underground spring, with frogs and tiny catfish enjoying the source.
It was fairly chilly in the gorges- the sun only hits a couple hours a day. A nice break from the desert heat, but keep in mind that most hotels don't have any way to heat their rooms. Some of them had space heaters, but in general, in winter, plan on wearing a hat to bed.
Tinerhir was a picturesque Berber village close by. Tourist sites were few and far between out here, and where there was something to see, there were busloads of people. It was pretty easy to escape all that- we're not talking about Paris amounts of tourist, but it just seemed like a whole lot because there wasn't too much else there.
Next, onward to where the real Saharan desert begins.