Marrakesh was the starting point and the ending point of theEpic Disc 2024the epic trip organized by Mazdabarely a week ago, to understand the deep meaning of the “jewel” of Hiroshima HouseTHE Mazda CX-60the elegant and powerful SUV, plug-in hybrid and diesel.

The route of more than 1,200 kilometers, divided into two stages, with hundreds of turns, led to the discovery of another Morocco.

A Morocco which goes beyond the almost two million arrivals that make its best-known city the most visited. An authentic, new and beautiful country, made of a thousand shades of sand color, of villages where you are surrounded by celebrating children, of unexplored roads that lead to the sandy desert of Sahara passing by the almost alien panoramas of the mountains ofAtlas.

Mountains, deserts, plains: Morocco from top to bottom

The adventure trip quickly transformed into a fascinating snapshot of today's mobility. And the CX-60 It's the right car, in the right place.

Driving the SUV, the horseshoe road Marrakech-Marrakech – with an intermediate stop in the picturesque setting OuarzazateTHE Hollywood Berber – took us to cover almost 1,200 kilometers in two days.

Between the two: authentic villages; throats; palm groves; kasbah and ksour; minarets; canyon and desert.

Marrakech was the starting point and ending point of the Epic Drive 2024.

But above all the spectacular rhythm Tizi-n-Test, which rises to 2,101 meters above sea level, where it once snowed but where you can now wear a t-shirt even in winter; THE Dades Gorges, a series of gorges carved by the river in the middle of the mountains; there valley of a thousand kasbahs which owes its name to the presence of the river of the same name, the longest in the country.

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And then the waterproof and breathtaking R704: we are impressed at every turn, the hills always take different shapes, the results of the corrosion of wind and water fascinate kilometer after kilometer.

The route, the difficulties and the surprises

Get out of the always fascinating frenzy of the souk Marrakeshthe symbolic square Jemaa El Fna Square or the grace of Majorelle Gardenhere appears the Morocco, in all its diversity. Following the R203, traffic becomes almost non-existent. However, you must be careful of carts pulled by donkeys.

And at every turn, to the small groups of children who greet with astonishment the appearance of Mazda Red color”Red Soul Crystal“.

On these journeys, the large SUV is in its natural habitat.

On these journeys, the large SUV is in its natural habitat: you travel in great comfort for many hours, without your back and legs being affected. After all, let's try one of the four best configurations: Takami (64,535 euros).

In particular, for the comfort of the driver, an innovative driver personalization system has been developed which, recognizing the person driving, automatically adjusts the position of the seat, steering wheel and mirrors. And then: the armchairs covered in nappa leather (standard) are large and welcoming.

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After 136 kilometers comes the first adventure: you climb towards the Tizi-n-Test in the'High Atlasa dizzying pass at an altitude of 2,093 meters which connects Marrakesh and the city of Taroudant. AND an extraordinary piece of engineering. At the top, a commemorative plaque certifies that the spectacular road was created by digging out the mountains by French colonialists between 1926 and 1932.

On the roads of the waterproof and breathtaking R704.

It winds up and down almost barren mountains above deep valleys with a few isolated villages here and there and the typical mudbrick houses. History records that this was the first modern road to connect Marrakesh with the fertile plains of Souss – where 60% of the country’s citrus fruits are grown – then with the desert.

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Tizi-n-Test, the pass with a breathtaking view

Until this time, the passage was in fact considered impassable without the protection and knowledge of the inhabitants and, despite the importance of the route both for commerce and for the subjugation of the South, it was a passage by which only a few sultans managed to get through. exercise even a modicum of control.

SEE ALSO: Morocco: what to see, from the Sahara desert to the imperial cities

What makes it really fascinating Tizi-n-Test it is the breathtaking panorama, which extends over the region of Souss Massa to the mountains ofAnti-Atlas. The roadway is, however, rather narrow, with no center line, with continuous hairpin bends, 500-meter precipices without barriers a few centimeters from the wheels, and you have to be careful of oncoming vehicles.

In addition to the Tizi-n-Test.

In this case, many people come to the rescue adasadvanced driver assistance systems CX-60: Adaptive cruise control (i-ACC) which reads signals and adjusts accordingly; automatic emergency braking that recognizes pedestrians and obstacles; distraction detector.

But also: Transparent viewwhich expands the field of vision at low speed with a 360° view and Vehicle Exit Warning (BSM), which signals the presence of other vehicles reversing.

We are impressed every moment.

The 18 km descent on the other side of the pass is a challenge. Vertigo could paralyze, but by proceedingDescent control (HDC) and in Normal (the others are Echo, Off road and the sprint sport), the car proves precise and agile even in tight turns.

On a few occasions, the sophisticated camera system (thankfully) avoids hitting protruding rocks.

Ouarzazate, the Berber Hollywood

The journey is tight and we continue Southern Morocco which alternates very green landscapes with arid panoramas, villages perched in flowery valleys and bodies of water like oases at the start of the great Sahara. There is no shortage of Berbers in long robes, camels and camps. Once down from the mountains, the path passes through the entrance gate of the Drâa Valley which leads to the city of Ouarzazate.

It is also called the “Hollywood Berber» due to the presence of film studios. Here, in fact, memorable films were born, such as Laurence of Arabia, Tea in the desert, The CrusadesTHE Jewel of the Nile And Gladiator.

Ouarzazate, Berber Hollywood.

The region has been so successful as a substitute for countries like TibetL'Ancient RomeL'Afghanistan and theEgyptthat “Ouarzawood” supports a considerable part of the local population.

Indeed, the Moroccan artisanal tradition, still very much alive, provides excellent painters and sculptors of decorations.

After 10 hours and more than 500 km of driving on mostly empty highways, the first day of the raid ends with the arrival atEcolodge Ouednoujoumabout twenty kilometers south of Ouarzazate.

The Ecolodge Ouednoujoum, about twenty kilometers south of Ouarzazate.

L'Ecolodge Ouednoujoum it's “another planet”, an eco-sustainable refuge in the middle of nowhere, where absolute silence reigns and where you can admire the stars at night. Far from the bright lights of Marrakesh. Built in 2007, it has 12 comfortable rooms with a traditional atmosphere.

You can also spend the night in a Berber tent equipped with the best comfort.

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On the highest road in the Atlas Mountains

On the second day, the “epic journey” (another 600 km and almost 12 hours by car) continues north, towards the Dades GorgesTHE Dades Gorges. The roads that cross the region are dotted with hundreds of kasbah And ksour.

The buildings here faithfully imitate the color of the surrounding landscape because that is precisely what they are made of.

The Dadès Gorges.

Two centuries-old construction methods predominate: rammed earth, known as pissand the raw earth brick called adobe. These fortified houses and villages protected the sedentary populations from attacks by nomadic tribes and gave the Dades valley its nickname: Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs.

SEE ALSO: Escape to Morocco, a break to see all the shades of blue again

Spectacular scenery, uphill and downhill

Uphill on the R704tall limestone cliffs cut by swirling sedimentary layers and gnarled rock outcrops slide into the valley, compressing it to a gorge state.

The zigzag route is considered one of the most spectacular and dangerous in the world: it stretches for 300 meters overlooking pink and orange rocks.

There are also many tourists in these areas who, on motorbikes, vintage cars, all-terrain vehicles, reach the summit to take a photo. We continue off-piste up to almost 3000 meters on an old and narrow nomadic path. There is nobody.

The second half of R704 it is in fact a pile of sharp rocks hidden by dust which are currently being widened to be completely asphalted: a project aimed at promoting the tourist development of this remote region. The Japanese car tackled the climb without problems also thanks to the all-wheel drive Intelligent all-wheel drive I-Activ and off-road driving modes.

Just time for a quick packed lunch and a mint tea to descend the mountain in a succession of wide and narrow bends and sudden ascents and descents (in sport) through the mythical Atlas before turning southwest to return to Marrakesh.

A five-star SUV

The last part of the route takes place entirely on extra-urban roads, with speed limits which vary constantly and for no apparent reason from 50 to 80 kilometers per hour.

And besides, the police at the side of the road persuade you to respect the number that appears on thehead-up display. The traffic becomes more and more intense and after 12 hours fatigue sets in.

The Mazda CX-60.

Standard on CX-60among other things, there is also blind spot monitoring and speed regulator; if you choose it adaptive (purchase of Driver Assistance Pack), then on the highway the car can move almost on its own.

During safety crash tests carried out in 2022 byEuroNCAPTHE Mazda CX-60 received the maximum rating of five stars.

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