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the Degree Confluence Project
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Morocco

6.1 km (3.8 miles) ENE of Goulimine, Guelmim-es Semara, Morocco
Approx. altitude: 365 m (1197 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 29°S 170°E

Accuracy: 5 m (16 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: West #3: North #4: East #5: GPS #6: The rally team #7: Watched by camels

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  29°N 10°W (visit #2)  

#1: South

(visited by Neil Rickards)

05-Jan-2005 -- I visited this Confluence while on the 2005 Plymouth-Dakar Challenge (PDC'05). This is an attempt to drive a load of old bangers (140 of them this year) from Europe, down the west coast of Africa, through the Sahara, and finally to The Gambia. It's been referred to as like the Paris-Dakar Rally, but for poorer people with less sense.

We'd taken some extra time to see more of northern Morocco, so on day 10 we had to drive all the way from Marrakech to La`ayoune. I'd noticed that our route took us very close to this Confluence but we're still 30 km away, with some 45 mins before the sun sets. I suggest to Pete that we push on and try to reach it.

Conscious of the fast setting sun, we cover the last 30 km flat out. As we get down towards 10 km the numbers start coming more slowly, and by the time we reach 5 they're barely moving. Then the numbers start creeping up again and I tell Pete to stop. To our left is a steep hill covered in loose rock, thorny bushes, and a few disinterested goats. Somewhere 3 km behind that hill is a point that looks almost like any other point, special only because it marks the intersection of two invisible lines. The sun will drop below the horizon in 15 mins and the sky doesn't retain light for long round here, though it should still give me another 10. I reach a decision, grab my 'phone, camera, GPS, and some spare batteries, and set off up the slope at a slow run. The goats watch me go past.

By about half way up I'm fighting for breath. The GPS confirms I'm going in the right direction, but not fast enough. Finally, I crest the top and the ground falls away again, but more gradually. Unfortunately I don't have time to ponder the geology that formed this range, I have to push on. The stones are loose and going down is more dangerous than up, but I can't afford to slacken off. I try to match the contours, jumping and dodging the small vicious bushes. I brush too close to one and stop to pull a long thin thorn from my leg. I come past some camels that look at me with contempt - their herder calls to me but I must push on. With a kilometre to go, the ground levels out but the footing is no less treacherous, and it's now almost pitch black. I try not to worry what photos I'll get to mark my visit, but just concentrate on reaching the point. Pete calls to check that I'm ok. With 200 m to go I check my bearing and the GPS has died. I change the batteries as I run, scramble across a deep ditch, and check again. 26.2 km - I've overshot and it's switched to the next waypoint. Damned if I'm running all that way - I turn to a lat/long view and home in on the point.

The Confluence is in a small flat valley flanked by long ranges of hills. It lies beside a dry gully or drainage-ditch. The ground is muddy and covered with loose stones and hardy bushes. The only occupants seem to be goats, camels, and their human companions. I stop a moment to catch my breath, update Pete, and take some photos that probably won't come out. I can't afford to revel in the triumph of bloody-mindedness over common sense - I've still got 3 km of pitch-black death-trap to traverse.

With the urgency gone, but wanting to make the most of what little light remains, I set off uphill at a brisk jog. As the ground gets steeper, and I stumble twice, I drop into a fast walk. I can see the silhouette of a peak and aim to skirt it, but have no depth perception in the poor light - each summit passes to reveal another. It's a clear night, and the stars are coming out as I finally reach the top and the road comes into view - a long way below me. I take it slowly, skidding down the loose shale, mostly on my behind. Twice I slip and roll myself into thorn bushes. Finally I reach the car, battered and scratched, but triumphant. It was a stupid thing to do, but I did it anyway!

I'm not sure if this counts as a completed Confluence - I obviously got there, but the photos aren't up to much. Anyone else attempting this point should have no trouble, but would do better to skirt round to the south more


 All pictures
#1: South
#2: West
#3: North
#4: East
#5: GPS
#6: The rally team
#7: Watched by camels
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