Morocco Pt. III: The Journey

We departed on a four day adventure through Morocco that included incredible landscapes, bizarre encounters and lots of laughter. The journey started in Marrakech, we spent a night in the Sahara Desert and finally ended in Fez. This is the itinerary provided by the travel company. Though, our tour guide Abdul took a real liking to our group and often diverted from the path to take us to meet some of his friends along the way and also a special stop at a village that wasn’t part of the tour.

Abdul is a character. We often drove past nomadic groups traveling alongside the road, and Abdul stopped at every group to hand them a bottle of water. Our tour took much longer than it was supposed to with Abdul – but we loved his bizarre decisions to turn down different roads and always stop to say hello to people. We decided that the van we traversed Morocco in serves as Abdul’s Facebook – he has a social network operating around that van. He would hug and kiss people at every stop, and townspeople would literally swarm around him when we arrived places. He kept his music on repeat, so for the whole journey we listened to a special mix tape of arabic music with a spontaneous Rihanna song that would signal that the disc was repeating everytime we heard it. Abdul was totally unpredictable and loved to play pranks. He stole Pat’s shoes and didn’t fess up to stealing them for abut an hour. He would constantly fib about where we were going. He did bizarre things like run over to me and throw a robe and tie a headdress on me:

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He called us a “Moroccan salad” because our group came from all over the world. We called him our “Moroccan spice” because the man was absolutely crazy. But, his crazy was endearing, and his addiction to a good time created unforgettable memories. Here’s the crew with Abdul and the van:

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DAY 1: Marrakech – High Atlas – Telouet – Ait Benhaddou – Ouarzazate
Depart at 08:00 from Marrakesh to Ouarzazate via the High Atlas mountains Tizi n’Tichka pass throughout the high Atlas Mountains range.Visit the Telouet Kasbah and the universal Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou Kasbah as it has been named by UNESCO in 1987.We’ll pass through Ouarzazate, or what we call Hollywood of Africa since it is a famous destination for filmmakers. Overnight in Ouarzazate.

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DAY 2: Ouarzazate – Dades Valley – Todra Gorges
From Ouarzazate We drive towards Dades Gorges but before we drive along valley of Roses. We get directly to Dades valley where we will enjoy the beautiful green fields of figs and almonds. We will pass through many hamlets and villages along the way before we arrive to Todra Gorges where we will have an overnight in a Kasbah overlooking the river.

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Abdul got all the girls a rose necklace

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In the afternoon we visited a Berber village – a stop not on the typical tour agenda. Learn more about the Berber people. Abdul, who grew up in a Berber village himself, was very proud to take us around this town. We met up with his friend who joined us on the walk around. The Berber people have their own strong traditions, language and culture that differ from the rest of Morocco. Because Abdul is Berber, we got to learn a lot about the culture as well as meet many of his Berber friends. Some consider the culture backwards because it is so distinct and could be perceived as lagging behind modern times, but I found the culture to be the best type of simple and the Berber people to be warm and welcoming.

The people of the region are famous for making rugs. In the middle of this very poor village, we visited this store rich with color and handmade rugs. After this presentation, I stayed behind to help one woman fold up all the rugs again. I was then told that I was worth 1,000 camels :) cultural compliments.

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That night Abdul really pulled out his crazy. We were driving through gorges, and I mean right near the edge of the gorges. To get a better view of the stars, Abdul slammed on his brakes, exited the vehicle and swung open the van door. We all sat with our legs dangling outside the car and held onto each other for safety as Abdul drove with his lights off. It was fantastic – without the lights on we could enjoy the stars filling the sky over the summit of the mountains around us.

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The hotel we stayed at that night was owned by a Berber family, and Abdul was so thrilled with showing us Berber culture that the family got out all their instruments and we had a drum circle with them while singing Berber songs.

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This day, with all its chaos and adventure, will forever be one of my favorite 24 hours.
DAY 3: Todra Gorges – Erfoud – Merzouga Dunes (Erg Chebbi)
From Todra Gorges we start to drive towards Erg Chebbi along arid landscapes and volcanic mountains of the Anti Atlas, before we pass through a town called Tinjedad the nerve centre of the area. We pass Erfoud, it’s very known with it’s fossil’s factories where they make beautiful shapes and pieces from rock of the neighboring mountains. Then we’ll head for the Erg Chebbi Arival to Merzouga Village stop at the Hotel to Drink the ment the and leave and meet your desert Guide then start the camel trek for 2hrs with sunset to get to middle of the sahara desert where you will enjoy your night with local Guides. diner & Overnight at The camp

The Tondra Gorges

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Welcome to the Sahara Desert

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Abdul didn’t go with us to the desert but in the middle of the music and campfire he comes literally dancing out of the dark of the desert. Our group proceeded to dance around the fire with him to the cheers and claps of the rest of the camp. When the circle was over, we grabbed our sisha and climbed to the top of the dune with the three drummers, Abdul and some of the other guides. There is no darkness like desert darkness. We made sure not to wander anywhere alone because even if you were 20 feet from the camp it was impossible to see.

DAY 4: Erg Chebbi – Ziz Valley – Midelt – Azrou – Ifrane – Fes
Morning early we come back from the desert with camel trek for 2hrs the have amazing view of the sunrise then back to the hotel breakfast and taking shower .before We drive towards Fes, we stop on the road to enjoy the panoramic views over the Ziz valley before we cross the High Atlas mountains again. We stop by a town called Midelt where we’ll have lunch. We pass Azrou then Ifrane and its huge cedar wood forest to see the monkeys. We continue to the legendary city of Fes. arrival at 5:00pm

Camels at sunrise

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We finished our trip with a night in Fez. Exhausted, but so thankful for our adventure in Morocco and for the people we got to share it with.

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Posted on by Reagan J Payne in Part I, Uncategorized

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