20-Jun-2007 -- What to do in Morocco a day before the summer solstice? Visiting a confluence point in the desert is one way to pass the time.
The point looked easy enough on a map - a short distance away from a major national highway (N9/N10) near Ouarzazate. This was one of three confluence points I was eyeing on the trip to Morocco, the other two being 32N 5W and 31N 4W. Turns out that this was the first and only one we could actually do - the road along the 32N 5W route (from the south via Goulmima) was not constructed yet, while 31N 4W was just not possible in the summer heat (Merzouga was the closest we got to this point).
Departing from Aït Benhaddou, we drove along the highway and the closest it got to the confluence point was 6.3 kilometres, nearly south of the point. I also noticed there were a few dirt roads leading closer to the confluence point, and decided to make a U-turn on the highway and take a dirt road. The one we chose intersected the highway close to a gift shop and a bridge, and this got us 2 kilometres closer to the target. At the end of the dirt road, there were a few buildings and a tower. Talking to the people there, they were building a chicken farm. I found it amazing that they would choose such a location since the availability of water was rather lacking.
The guy at the chicken farm said there was a dirt road that got closer to the direction we were heading. The distance was short enough for us to just hike it instead of taking a trek with a vehicle of unknown reliability - we would have had to get back on the highway and find the right dirt road, assuming there was one that got us closer to the point. We had purchased enough water for a three-hour hike in such temperatures, and it was getting very hot. I notice none of the confluence points in Morocco were done in the summer, so this is likely the reason why. I'm guessing it was around 40 degrees C.
The hike along the way (we approached the point with a bearing of 60 degrees) was through relatively flat and rocky terrain - there was some vegetation and a few dry creek beds to go through. The only time we saw liquid water was at an oasis which consisted of a palm tree - this was located at 30° 59' 27.6" N and 7° 1' 8.1" W - about 2 km away. At this oasis was a small pond and a frog that was ribbiting away at our presence.
While approaching the confluence point, I saw no evidence that it was a previous military training ground (based on the testimony of the first visitor), although there were some tire tracks that indicated that there were vehicles that went through the area in the past. I couldn't tell how recent the tracks were, however. Along the way, though, we did notice two or three dirt roads, and the closest one was about 600 meters away from the destination. Future visitors may wish to find which dirt road links closest to the confluence point and they might have an easier time.
Finally, at the point itself, I noticed that there was a small rock cairn about 25 meters away from the point. Was this constructed by the previous visitor? I don't know, but we ended up making a new rock cairn using those rocks and others. There were a few plastic bags that were littered along the way that we incorporated into the new cairn, so in case if any new visitors decide to visit this point there should be an unambiguous indication of where it is.