Visit to the 31°N 7°W confluence

We decided to take our holiday in Morocco and by sheer chance
I found the degree confluence home page shortly before we left.
I was going to take a GPS unit (Magellan GPS Pioneer) in any case
and when we did indeed have to stay over in Ouarzazate on 29 April
2001, we decided to attempt the confluence.

The Team

Jane
Gerd

Dr. E.J. Minay of London, United Kingdom.

Ir. G. Busker of London, United Kingdom.

The area

Ouarzazate is a fair sized town at the confluence of the Ouarzazate,
Dadès and Drâa oasis systems. Most visitors will spend
a night there en route between Marrakesh or Agadir and the oases south
of Er Rachidia or the Drâa valley.

Since we were coming from Erg Chebbi and planning to cross the Atlas
mountains from the south to Marrakesh, we decided to take a break in
Ouarzazate to relax and possibly attempt the 31N° 7W°
confluence on foot.

The 31°N 7°W confluence lies just over 12 Km (7-8 miles)
from the center of Ouarzazate. The proximity of the town led us
to believe that this may be a Moroccan confluence in a populated
area. Observations from the roof of our hotel showed a cluster
of houses far out in the direction of the confluence.

The trip

The road to Marrakesh and Agadir

We set off at 8:30 and decide to follow the main road to Marrakesh
and Agadir (Avenue Mohammed V) out of Ouarzazate in a W-NW direction.
This way we would not have to crawl through the suburbs where troops of
children would come and ask us for bonbons and pens.

The Atlas fim studios.

At 10:00 we are at the outskirts of Ouarzazate and we reach the
"Atlas" film studio which really looks like a film studio junk yard.
Several large Egyptian "stone" pillars and the side of a ship are
stored here.

It looks like our confluence is in or behind a pass between two
mountains a few kilometers to the north.

We leave the road and a little boy follows us and asks for a dirham,
a cahier, a stylo and whatever else he can think of. He disappears
and returns and doesn't leave us alone. I ask him what the name of
the two mountains is and he writes it down for us: "Tiknim" (or
something like that. I'll get the Arabic translated).
I tell him to keep the pen and he goes away.

The Tiknim (?) mountains.

The "pass" turns out to be a big gorge and we climb the westerly peak
and have lunch at the top. It is getting quite hot now and the breeze
at the top is very welcome. Below is a desert valley in which the
confluence lies. There is very little green vegetation and the desert
looks very rocky. The valley seems to continue all the way to the
Atlas which can be seen in the distance.

The confluence is in the desert, in the middle of this picture.

We descend the mountain into the valley and follow several small dry
river beds that lead onto the plains. Here the ground consists of
small rocks, flattened by what look like track marks left by heavy
tanks. We find several shell remains and blown up car wrecks.
About 1 Km before the confluence a troupe of quad bikes turns
up. With relief we find that it is a group of tourists, led by a
Moroccan guide and not the military police, out to arrest us for
entering a secret missile testing area.

The confluence

The confluence.

The confluence is probably a typical example of Moroccan desert;
rocks with few desert plants and an empty plastic container just 100
meters to the west. Ouarzazate is not visible from the confluence
although some trees can be seen in the south-east and I am certain the
city lights will be visible at night. A dozen blown-up car wrecks
can be seen a mile away in this direction too.
To the south the two peaks of "Tiknim" (?) are clearly visible.
The start of the Atlas mountains is maybe 20 Km to the north.

Views from the confluence

North: the Atlas mountains
To the north: The Atlas mountains.
West: More hills and a plastic container East: desert
West: More hills and a plastic container To the east: desert
South: Hills and the main road to Agadir and Marrakesh
South: Hills and the main road to Agadir and Marrakesh

Me standing at the confluence

North: the Atlas mountains
To the north: The Atlas mountains.
West: More hills and a plastic container East: desert
West: More hills and a plastic container Me with the GPS at the confluence To the east: desert
South: Hills and the main road to Agadir and Marrakesh
South: Hills and the main road to Agadir and Marrakesh

The way back

We decide to take a more direct route back by aiming straight for our
hotel in the town. We pass many blown up and burnt out car wrecks,
bits of exploded shell and there are tank tracks everywhere.
We hit a road a few hours later and take a taxi back to our hotel.
We eat in cafe-restaurant "Renaisance" and sleep very well that night.

References

  1. "Morocco", Barnaby Rogerson, Cadogan, 2000.
  2. "Morocco - The rough guide", Mark Ellingham, Shaun McVeigh and Don Grisbrook, Rough Guides, 1998.