This really doesn’t come as any surprise, does it?
It’s kind of become a theme for my travels now. Unwanted adventures, terrifying experiences, sensing I’m about to die – and this was all three.
So, in typical Lauren fashion, I found myself in yet another near-death situation. This time it was in Morocco. This time it involved hours spent getting thrown around the back of a minivan in the middle of the Atlas Mountains, inches away from plummeting into the gorges below.
I spent five hours clinging onto the armrest for dear life, my eyes squeezed tightly shut as we raced around one of the most dangerous roads in the world.
The winding road through the Atlas mountains, and specifically Dades Gorge, is frequently included in lists of the top 5 most dangerous roads – and let’s just say that Moroccan drivers are not exactly the safest. In fact, I’d go as far as to say they are the most reckless drivers I’ve yet to experience on my journey. In 2011 alone there were over 4000 road-related deaths in the country!
So when I booked myself on a 3 day tour of the Sahara Desert I had absolutely no idea that we would be driving on said road. I didn’t even know that Morocco had a dangerous road!
After waking up at a ridiculously early hour, I arrived at our minivan only to realise I would be spending the next few days with 11 Portuguese teenagers who were playing Barbie Girl extremely loudly on their phones and shrieking hysterically as I climbed inside. Yes, really.
So, already the trip was off to a slightly poor start, but I’d been dreaming of visiting the Sahara Desert for years, and I was finally doing it! I was finally in Morocco! Nothing could diminish my excitement and I wasn’t going to let a few obnoxious kids ruin my adventure.
I pulled on my headphones, turned my music right up and spent the next few hours watching the stunning scenery race past.
We soon left the chaos of Marrakech behind and started to ascend up into the mountains, quickly reaching an altitude of over 2500 metres. With the increase in height came the narrowing of roads and before long we were pelting along a dirt track that could barely fit two lanes of traffic. With the incessant honking, swerving and near-crashes, I was starting to get slightly nervous…
And then the barriers at the edge of the road disappeared.
We were driving just 12 inches from the side of the mountain, there was a steep, steep drop below us and we now had no form of barrier to keep us on the road if anything were to go wrong…
Our driver was unfased by our obvious impending doom and started to speed up even more, egged on by the Portuguese kids screaming, laughing and urging him to go faster, leaning out the windows and screeching while filming the drive on their phones.
So this is how I am going to die.
A few seconds later, our driver sped out from behind a coach with the intention of overtaking, only to swerve out and be faced by another coach hurting towards us from the opposite direction.
We couldn’t overtake in time.
All three vehicles were racing along at least at 60 mph.
Our driver slammed on the brakes as we all flew forward into the seats in front, clutching at each other as we swerved back in behind the coach avoiding death by mere inches and seconds.
Did this affect our driver in any way? Did he begin to slow down and begin driving more sensibly?
Of course not.
The next hour was filled with just as much terror and recklessness and I was genuinely shocked when we pulled up in front of our hotel completely unharmed.
Thank god that was over.
All that was left now was the return journey back to Marrakech.
Fortunately, although the drive back was just as stressful, we all made it back in once piece. The minivan of tourists a few weeks later, however? They weren’t so lucky. After hearing about the crash, I researched a little online and came to realise just how dangerous the road really is…