Gara Medouar

It was Blofeld’s secret lair in Spectre, it was used in the best of all The Mummy movies, it is used in the opening scene of BBCs SAS: Rogue Heroes and several other movies and series. It is even featured on the cover of the Morocco Adventure bible, Morocco Overland by Chris Scott.
Sheer drops and steep ledges of Gara Medouar.

Gara Medouar is about an hours ride by road from Merzouga, therefore we decided to book an extra night in the hotel so we would have the whole day to get there and explore the area. The hotel was really nice and it was practicall at the base of Erg Chebbi, the largest sand dune in Morocco.
Erg Chebbi as seen from the roof of the hotel.

We had arrived at the hotel fairly early in the afternoon and there was still some daylight left. So as we were right next door to Erg Chebbi we decided to have a go and riding the dunes.
I think I need to work on my dune riding technique.

It wasn’t long though, after much clutch slipping, engine revving and digging of sand we decided that maybe we would rather go and sit by the hotel pool and have a beer.

The next day before setting off for Gara Medouar we made a quick stop off at the only bank in town to use the ATM, only to find it was closed due to some technical problem. We weren’t the only ones there, a queue was building up and the bank teller was inside working frantically to fix the issue. We needed local currency to pay the hotel and fuel, and the bank would not give us cash on credit or debit card. We had to wait it out. After about an hour there was a loud cheer and the ATM seemed to be fixed. We quickly withdraw some local currency and left.

We followed the main road and about an hour later reached could see the geological formation of Gara Medouar in the distance. You turn off the main road and take a gravel track about one kilometre to get to the stone walls and gate of the horseshoe shape formation. It was used as a fortress as far back as the 11th century.
Looking back from the highest point towards the entrance in the distance.

Driving in through the ‘gate’ in the stone wall you drive up to the highest and farthest point of the formation. Here there are steep vertical cliff ledges and it’s easy to see the strategic advantage of this site, you can see for many kilometres in all directions.
Fantastic views of the surroundings in all directions.

We spent quite a long time just wandering around taking photos and trying not to fall of the edge, it was a long way down. This is a very popular place, particularly with the off-roading community and a couple of 4x4s arrived whilst we were looking around as well as a Moroccon tour guide and his friend on bikes. It was out of season so he was just scouting or out for the day. We did strike up conservation with him and managed to get featured in a brief drone promo video he was shooting though.

He also gave us some good advice on a trail to follow to get back to Merzouga. Rather than follow the main road we were going to try and cut across country almost in a dead straight line. The directions in the desert always seem to just be “head for that tree line over there about 5km then turn right”. So though we did do our best and did find a great trail for a few kilometres, it wasn’t long before we reached what looked like rocks and trees with no way through.

We had to rejoin the main road, but not after making several ‘circuits’ of a small village, much to the delight of the local kids. I’m sure we were riding through back yards, front yards and the local allotment at one point. But everyone just looked on bemused at the mad foreigners.
Inside Gara Madouar looking out through the stone ‘gate’.