the Degree Confluence Project


11.0 km (6.8 miles) S of Merzouga, Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco
Approx. altitude: 688 m (2257 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreetMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 31°S 176°E

Accuracy: 10 m (32 ft)
Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: East #3: South #4: West #5: GPS #6: Confluence hunting team #7: Erg Chebbi #8: Car problem and fossil museum Erfoud #9: River and Tizi n Tichka road (N9) #10: Atlas Film studio Ouarzazate and Aït Ben Haddou

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  31°N 4°W (visit #2)  

#1: North

(visited by Herman de Haan, Edwin Coster, Gysbert Wassenaar, Moustafa Chahi, Neda Bašić and Tomislav Bašić)

04-Jun-2011 -- This is the second of the two confluence visits during our Morocco tour. The story continues from 31N 6W.

The noise of the alarm woke us at around 5:30 a.m. Neda and Tomislav were already awake because of some animal noises (a desert cat and a desert rooster).

We went to see the rise of the sun in the Erg Chebbi desert. Although we would have liked to sleep longer and the wind was quite strong, we got on our feet to climb the highest sand dune nearby. We discovered more tents close by and saw more people heading for the highest sand dune. The view from the sand dune was spectacular.

After a delicious breakfast we climbed on our camels and went back to the hotel. Edwin really felt more sick than ever. He was brought back on a fast quad to have time to relax in the hotel. The desert was great. In the hotel we got time to have a swim or have a shower.

Before going to Erfoud we went south to Merzouga to find the Confluence. We missed a turn to the right. Instead of going to the Confluence we got in the centre of Merzouga and talked to some people who wanted to bring us to tourist activities. We had to go back. Secondly the road was only accessible for 4WD.

In 10 minutes we turned to the good track. This road did not exist in 2002 when the Confluence was visited for the first time. Almost 10 years ago. The new road was very comfortable. Within minutes we got as close as 250 meters. Neda took the GPS and walked to the Confluence. The area around it did not have a lot of vegetation. Only sand. Although there was almost a sandstorm, this was really a girly point. We took pictures and went back to the car.

Our next stop was Erfoud. In this city a museum can be found about fossils. This was really promising but the fact that our car lost a lot of gasoline got most of our attention. In Rissani people were pointing at our car. Gysbert smelled gasoline. The rest of us too, but we believed it could not be our car. It was probably something else, may be the air conditioning! Looking back at the road we saw a track of gasoline which we could not ignore anymore.

It turned out to be a small problem. Tomislav discovered a tube which was not connected to the motor anymore. He got it connected again, burning his hand. Moustafa found a garage. The tube was replaced and we continued our trip to Erfoud to find the museum. We found it easily because it was next to the road we drove on.

We parked the car next to the museum and smelled gasoline again! The new tube was not a good one. It did not connect well. We went into the museum and saw a great collection of fossils including the well known Trilobites. Fossils can be bought at the museum but also at other places.

In the meantime two of us tried to fix the car. A technician from the museum, who else, found a new tube which connected well. We were amazed. The car was fixed in a museum. The new tube was normally used for gas but did a good job the rest of our tour.

After the confluence visit and the fossil museum we also managed to visit the Valley des Dadès and the Roses valley this day. We decided Timoslav got to drive 30 minutes to go into the valley des Dadès and back. Otherwise we would not arrive in Skoura before sunset. We called it our Japanese tour. We had quick stops to make pictures. During one of these stops we gave a child some chips. Other children came and we gave all the fruit and sweets we had. Unfortunately the bag of chips exploded and was spilled all over the rocks. The children tried to collect them all.

The air in the Roses valley near Kelaat M'Gouna is filled with the scent of roses. Walking in perfume. It could be the name of a movie. We asked some Moroccans how to get into the valley. They showed us the way and explained there are no roses to be seen at this hour of the day. In the morning women will harvest the roses and bring them to factories, where all kinds of rose products are made. It began to rain heavily. We ran back to a shop which was almost pink, the color of the roses, and bought some gifts.

Rivers were overflowing. Some of the bridges were difficult to pass because of the water flowing fast over the bridges. We drove to Skoura and slept in Kasba Dar Es Salam. It was situated in a large palmeraie.

On Saturday morning we visited the Atlas Film Studio in Ouarzazate. It is the largest film studio in the world by area, owing to the large areas of desert land. Founded in 1983 by entrepreneur Mohamed Belghmi, it has continued to expand due to the quality of the mountain light and the ability to replicate environments of many countries. Films like Ben Hur, Asterix and Obelix, Cleopatra, etc. were made in this film studio.

We also visited Aït Ben Haddou. It's a 'fortified city', or ksar, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. It is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ounila River and has some beautiful examples of kasbas, which unfortunately sustain damage during each rainstorm. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the afternoon we took the Tizi n Tichka road (N9), crossed the High Atlas at a breath taking 2260 meter. We planned to visit Marrakech. The medina of Marrakech is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. First we went to Kasba Tiwaline and had a swim.

Marrakech was very crowded due to the soccer match Morocco-Algeria. This is a match which can be compared with Netherlands-Germany. Morocco was celebrating victory. We took a horse coach tour to have a peek into the city. Too dark, too many people, quite a contrast coming from the silent desert. We did not have time to see Marrakech properly. After some shopping at 11:00 p.m. in a big Carrefour, we went back to Kasba Tiwaline.

To end the Morocco tour we planned to have a swim in the sea on Monday before leaving from Agadir to Belgium. Strange, the beach was completely empty. Probably because of the strong wind. This brought us to tourist shops. The owners were happy to have some customers. In general Morocco seemed to experience a decline in tourism caused by the situation in Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt. Hotel owners told us tourism decreased 70% in a year.

In Agadir we enjoyed our last lunch in Morocco. Bread with canned tuna and finally a bit of a water melon!

 All pictures
#1: North
#2: East
#3: South
#4: West
#5: GPS
#6: Confluence hunting team
#7: Erg Chebbi
#8: Car problem and fossil museum Erfoud
#9: River and Tizi n Tichka road (N9)
#10: Atlas Film studio Ouarzazate and Aït Ben Haddou
ALL: All pictures on one page