Traveling between Ouarzazate and Erfoud along the southern side of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco you will pass through Boumalne du Dades and Tinerhir. Not far from the southern side of the High Atlas Mountains, in the vicinity of the oasis of Tinerhir, it’s located a wonderful place to stay and spend a few days climbing: the Todra Gorge, which is sometimes written Todgha, a series of limestone river canyons in the Eastern part of High Atlas. These deep cliffs carved over the millennia by the action of the waters have a variable height, which in some places can reach 400 meters. Climbing in the Todra Gorge is an unforgettable experience. From the oasis of Tinerhir a concrete road leads to the Todra Gorge.
Todra Gorge is famous in reason of the beauty of the scenery and its sharp red limestone, very compact and abrasive, whose exceptional quality and durability is truly amazing in my opinion. According to the locals there are over 400 routes, divided in 46 sectors, up the awesome walls inside and outside the gorge; it's possible to choose amongst endless bolted single pitch routes and multi-pitch routes and also a few trad and mixed adventures routes, where to make a convenient use of excentrics and cams.
On the right side of the gorge, when coming from Tinerhir, it's located the most striking structure of the whole place, surely standing out amongst the various towers and crags of the gorge: the Pilier du Couchant, meaning Pillar of Sunset, a sharp and soaring pillar not to be missed, that characterizes unmistakably the starting part of the gorge. Really breathtaking!
The closest town to Todra is Tinerhir located nearby the entrance of the gorge, a charming town known for its beautiful palm grove and its famous Todra Gorge. The city, populated by 40,000 inhabitants, has built in tiers around a headland dominated by the ruins of an old residence of Glaoui. If you have your own car you can quickly reach the entrance to the gorge from Tinherir via a good 12 km road. A 4X4 is no longer necessary to reach the entrance of the Todra Gorge or even if you wish to climb further, beyond the exit of the gorge, direction the berber village of Tamtattouchte.
The closest airport to Tinerhir is Ouarzazate International Airport, 165 Km. far from Tinerhir (2 hours and 30 minutes by private car), through a desert landscape with oasis and mountains in the background. Now the road is paved. Anyhow there are few flights getting to Ouarzazate. Another option may be Marrakesch International Airport, best connected by different international flights (402 km far from Tinerhir) From Tinerhir follow the P32 highway leading to Er-Rachidia and Erfoud. Just out of the village turn soon left along a road that goes in the direction of Todra Gorges. Reached the village of Tizgui, continue until you reach the gorge itself. The best thing to do is to park the car at the hotel "Le Vallee" and "El Mansour", just located at the entrance of the gorge, then continue by walking along the road through the gorge itself. Anyhow to get to the Gorge, a private car is not necessary.
There are no particular restrictions in climbing and hiking. A toll is due to enter the gorge: 7 Dh (0,7 $). To get to the Gorge, a car is useful but not needful. Always haggle over the price, in the hotels, restaurants, rent-a-cars. Be careful with false guides, carpet sailers. Don't give anything to the begging children, don't visit the oasis of Tinerhir with them. In the Gorge, there is a water spring between the hotels Les Roches and Mansour on the opposite side of the river. Don't never drink the water of the river or the tap water in the hotels.
As told in the first chapter, there are over 400 routes in Todra, divided in 46 sectors.
At the entrance of the canyon, on the right side, you will find two of the most classic multipitch routes in Todra:
- Aiguille du Gué, Voie du Defilè - 5c max, 100 m - A brief but interesting climb on excellent limestone, located in the shadow. Nuts and friends are useful to integrate the fixed protection
- Aiguille de Grabe, Pilier du Guetteur - 6b max, 6a obbl., 150 m - A wonderful route on exceptionally rough rock. Nuts and friends are useful.
- Pilier du Couchant - This is the most compelling line in the Gorge. Two beautiful routes are recommended here, Voie Classique and Chibania. Not to be missed!
- Voie Classique - Chibania
Different other beautiful multipitch routes are located on the sector Demeuk Right and Mur de Scorpion.
- Demeuk Right, Soif d'Aujourd'Hui
- Mur du Scorpion, M'hamed Prisa Mata
- Mur du Scorpion, Uh Berber
- Mur du Scorpion, Le Mur du Scorpion
- Mur du Scorpion, Bonjour Martina
- Plage Mansour - On the left as you enter the gorge, all a stone's throw from the climbers doss spot Hotel Mansour, one minute from the track, just at the start of the gorge. Avoid the river by crossing it at its shallowest point and traverse leftwards along a small ledge above the water's edge. The first bolts are visible up high.
- Satanicos and Hollandaise - These sectors on the right hand side of the gorge are not a place to escape the tourists
- De Meuk, the first of the hardcore sectors
- Les Jardins des Roches - On the right side of the gorge. Park by Hotel Jasmina or Les Roches and continue within the gorge. Turn right at the end and follow the dry river bed to reach the crag. Good views and amenable routes.
Just in front of the canyon exit, from left to right:
- Can Güllich - Impressive barrel-shaped wall. A stony slog up the hill (10-15 minutes) deposits you on the ledge beneath the smaller-than-it looks crag. Recommended route: Requiem pour le cobra (6c), a must. On the same side of the valley is the huge
- Trainee Blanche - On the same side as Can Güllich, this sector was only recently developed and is loaded with stacks of potential.
- Chaos - A solitary river bed boulder. A fine and varied little crag with some pleasant bouldering nearby, this makes a nice afternoon venue.
There are other three sectors along the left side of the road to Tamtattouchte, approximately 20 minutes from the hotels:
- Petites Grottes
- Petite Gorge - A combination of fine rock, fine routes, fine views and relative solitude.
Spring and autumn are the best season, while summer is very hot and winter often very cold.
The hotels within the gorge offer a cheap and characteristic solution. Those more fortunate can reside in the more luxurious Hotel Bougafer at Tinerhir. Food and accommodation is generally very cheap, even if the most spartan accommodation is not recommended to those not used to this type of lodging
Inside the gorge the Gorge Hotel Les Roches and Hotel Yasmina are both closed because a big rock has fell on the roof in 2015
At the entrance : - Hotel La Vallée - Etoiles des gorges
In Tinerhir : - Hotel Kenzi Bougafer
Campings : - Camping Le Soleil - Camping l' Auberge Atlas
Most routes in the Todra Gorge are bolt-equipped, but the multi-pitch routes need additional gear (nuts & friends). A 80 m rope is recommended for the single pitch routes, being very long. 2x55 m ropes for the multipitch routes; a dozen quickdraws, a rope bag, plenty of chalk and sun lotion are also essentials. Optional extras include a sleeping bag for roof-top sleeping, a camera, baggy trousers, sandals.
“Escalade et via ferrata dans les gorges du Todgha” by Julio Soares - Aventures verticales Maroc
“Rock climbing in the Todra Gorge” - Published Oxford Alpine Club (2015) ISBN 978-0-9567288-8-3
The first guidebook "Escalade au Maroc - Todra" by Guy Albert is now unavailable.