Marrakech to Zagora Desert Day 1
It is Ramadan, and we have left Marrakech at 7:30 a.m. in a minivan heading through the Atlas Mountains. Our driver is neither eating or drinking and the hot sun is pelting down. Mind you he has no problem talking on his mobile cell phone and the road is so windy – I get car sick. He even overtakes other cars – one handed and on an empty stomach. Is this a skill I wonder?
It twists and turns like a snake in the desert and it is revolting and nauseating. We stop for air and a smile. Really I am ill!
The tummy thing is he stops for us to buy Quartz. The first is painted and dyed and is fake, and he tells us it is real – clearly, he gets a commission, and then we buy some Lapis Lazuli and he tells us it is fake, and the next Geologist says it is real. I nearly threw it out of the car window.
The desert Atlas Moroccan hills are full of clay homes like these.
There are several styles, but in general, they are old, new and all red clay.
We then drive to Ait Benhaddou for lunch and the driver who is hungry, thirsty and tired gets snappy at us and walks off to find a place to sleep, and locks the van. We are left in 50 degrees Celcius heat with no hats!
This kettle proves to be full of water at a local seller on the way, so we stop and pour it all over us to cool down. This UNESCO site holds 28 people and five families, yet it is huge and is used in many films.
We wander up the hill. I feel like I am burning up, and Explorason is being a trooper.
Old clay homes stand the test of time.
Wow, this is so hot!
We stop for a lesson on local art, where they use a mix with lemon juice to paint, and then heat them. In hindsight, I wish I had bought one.
It is really, really hot. Did I mention that? Explorason has his shirt around his head as he has no hat. He rests up in the house for a bit and then we go on in this mad heat.
Here is a list of the movies they made at this site too.
The view is amazing. It is well worth a visit. Most tours only get here in the heat of the day, so if you happen to drive, try to get here earlier when it is not so hot. Oh and bring a hat and about 2 Litres of water!
We find a bit more shelter in the tower, but the guide is calling us to leave.
By now Explorason has had enough and I don’t blame him.
This is the tower. This is the view below. We move on quickly.
I rest for one minute where the guide is, but he thinks it is just for a photo so up he gets.
By the time we walk to the bottom, I am so red in the face. We go to the toilets and we cover ourselves with water. The water is salty. It is undrinkable and leaves a salt film all over us. So we buy a bottle of cool water. It feels so nice to drink.
We now drive on through the Atlas Mountains and the terrain changes to rocky layers.
It becomes stone. Desert but with stone. It is something to behold. I can’t say it is beautiful, but each time I see a house, I admire those who live in these harsh conditions.
We then go through a date palm valley and it is lush and green. It goes on for kilometers and it is a refreshing change to the harsh conditions we have encountered.
Finally, we arrive at a town called Zagora, and here the desert really begins.
We meet our camels and we were originally told we would be on a 40-minute ride by the agent, but turns out that we are on a one and a half hour camel ride.
Now a bit of advice. Take a scarf where you can wrap it around our mouth to avoid eating sand. Take sunnies to keep the sand out of your eyes. Wear long pants or the camel will chafe your legs. And bring a bottle of water each – 1 Litre – you need it as you ride.
We hop on our camels and we are pretty excited for what lies ahead.
Soon Explorason is in full form and is itching to have a gallop.
He gets along really well with the Nomads and chats away to them. We have great camel drivers and I am already impressed with them.
We come across a herd of goats. We are not far out of town and it seems so slow to get anywhere.
Soon we are pretty relaxed and riding no hands or with our feet up is easy.
He wants to be a cable driver in Australia. I don’t blame him. I don’t think the pay in Morocco is too flash.
Explorason is asked to help get the water, and I like the fact he feels special. He needs that when he is a child traveling on his own.
He then helps them lead the camels – he is one of the boys 🙂
The sun starts to set as we reach camp. It is just beautiful!
The inside of the tent is pretty muggy, so not sure we will stay in here for the night.
It is a really groovy tent and I like the sequin sides to the tent.
We have mint tea and the staff at the Bedouin are fantastic. Happy and really kind and make us feel so welcome.
We are then served Tarjine and it is delicious.
The hospitality is amazing. The vegetables are really great.
Jordan, a fellow traveler joins in and gives it all he has. So now we have four Berber drums all beating into the night.
Before I know it, Explorason is asleep under the stars.
Then we decide it is a great idea for all of us to sleep under the stars. So we grab some bedding and we all decide to sleep under the stars.
As I lie there before I sleep, I look up and the sky is filled with stars.
It is just beautiful.
I feel the warm desert breeze and I drift off to sleep.
This is something I will never forget for the rest of my life!
Questions and Comments
- What fascinates you about Morocco?
- What do you make of their culture?
- Did you get to visit the Sahara desert?
- How was the experience?
- Do share your comments with us below.