I’d heard the rumors about Tizi n’Tichka Pass. I’d heard the warnings. I thought to myself, “I live in Washington State where mountains and mountain passes abound, why should I worry?” But, as the bus left the station and the driver’s assistant, called a grissor in these parts, began handing out vomit bags, I began to worry. Even Google Maps seems to suggest, “Hey, are you sure you don’t want to take the roads to the north and avoid all this?”
Simply “Tichka” for short, the pass is the most direct route from Marrakech to Ouarzazate across the High Atlas Mountains in central Morocco. If one looks at the map, like the one on the right, It really doesn’t seem that bad. Sure, there are some squiggles, but what road doesn’t have some of those. It’s not until one zooms in that the truth of the situation becomes apparent.
As one ascends the mountain and the incline increases, the road doubles back on itself again and again. The climb is considerable. The elevation of Marrakech is 1,529 ft/466 m and the summit of Tichka is 7,415 ft/2,260 m.
By the time we had made it to the other side of the mountain and the curves had somewhat subsided, about 1/5 of the bus had vomited. Thankfully, I was not among them and even more thankfully, the roof vents were opened as the twists began.
Aside from the sickness, the scenery was gorgeous. The mountain range is quite old and as it has been beaten down by millenia, the geology is a wonder to behold. There is a broad spectrum of colors, from a deep red to light violet to bright yellow. Scattered among the beauty are numerous mountain villages, which still use traditional building methods of mud and hay.
Nine hours, two police stops, two prayer stops, one fuel stop, one stop to pick up someone’s furniture, and one altercation later, I made it safely back, hot, tired, but none the worse for wear and happy to be home.
Below are some of the photos of the trip.