Marrakech to Zagora Desert Day 1


Exploramum and Explorason – Zagora Desert at sunset

Marrakech to Zagora Desert Day 1


Exploramum and Explorason – The road from Marrakech

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?


Exploramum and Explorason – our driver is on his phone o the windy road overtaking people

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!


Exploramum and Explorason – from the top of the Atlas Mountains

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.


Exploramum and Explorason – Quartz

The desert Atlas Moroccan hills are full of clay homes like these.


Exploramum and Explorason – Atlas Mountain homes

There are several styles, but in general, they are old, new and all red clay.


Exploramum and Explorason – Desert Town

Homes rise out of valleys, but they are all hot, dry and red.

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!


Exploramum and Explorason – overlooking a desert town – Ait Benhaddou

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.


Exploramum and Explorason – finding water in the desert

We wander up the hill. I feel like I am burning up, and Explorason is being a trooper.


Exploramum and Explorason – walking up the UNESCO site

Old clay homes stand the test of time.


Exploramum and Explorason – clay homes

Wow, this is so hot!

I borrow Explorafriend’s scarf for a minute. She just bought it off a seller, and if you do a desert trip, I’d recommend buying one here too. She paid 30 DH – a good price.


Exploramum and Explorason – in the hot sun

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.


Exploramum and Explorason – watching an art demonstration

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.


Exploramum and Explorason – recovering from the heat.

Here is a list of the movies they made at this site too.


Exploramum and Explorason – the fins made here

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!


Exploramum and Explorason – we reach the top

We find a bit more shelter in the tower, but the guide is calling us to leave.


Exploramum and Explorason – a bit of shade in the tower

By now Explorason has had enough and I don’t blame him.


Exploramum and Explorason – in a doorway from the harsh sun

The water we did have which wasn’t much is all gone. Our other bottle locked away.


Exploramum and Explorason – in 50 degrees Celcius heat

This is the tower. This is the view below. We move on quickly.


Exploramum and Explorason – overlooking the town below

I rest for one minute where the guide is, but he thinks it is just for a photo so up he gets.


Exploramum and Explorason – our guide

By now I’m actually feeling a bit sick with the heat.


Exploramum and Explorason – making our way down

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.


Exploramum and Explorason – Atlas Mountains

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.


Exploramum and Explorason – the start of the desert

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.


Exploramum and Explorason – driving past date palms

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.


Exploramum and Explorason – Time for a 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.


Exploramum and Explorason – hopping on the camel

We hop on our camels and we are pretty excited for what lies ahead.


Exploramum and Explorason – I’m on a camel!

Soon Explorason is in full form and is itching to have a gallop.


Exploramum and Explorason – Explorason is ready for a fast ride

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.


Exploramum and Explorason – leaving the town of Zagora

Soon we are pretty relaxed and riding no hands or with our feet up is easy.


Exploramum and Explorason – feeling comfortable on my camel “Gloria”

Shoes are off and tucked in the saddle and we start a steady rhythm as we ride.


Exploramum and Explorason – hopping off to help get the water from the well

We stop for a rest, and I notice Explorason and the driver really seem to be bonding and it is lovely.


Exploramum and Explorason – good buddies

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.


Exploramum and Explorason – drawing water from the well.

He then helps them lead the camels – he is one of the boys 🙂


Exploramum and Explorason – leading the camels

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.


Exploramum and Explorason – in our tent

It is a really groovy tent and I like the sequin sides to the tent.


Exploramum and Explorason – the outside of our tent

We have mint tea and the staff at the Bedouin are fantastic. Happy and really kind and make us feel so welcome.


Exploramum and Explorason – mint tea in the desert

We are then served Tarjine and it is delicious.


Exploramum and Explorason – the Tajine arrives for dinner

The hospitality is amazing.  The vegetables are really great.


Exploramum and Explorason – Vegetable Tarjine

We then have a Berber drum presentation.


Exploramum and Explorason – Berber Drums

The young boy is barely a teenager, but he sings and drums with gusto.


Exploramum and Explorason – Berber Drums #2

Jordan, a fellow traveler joins in and gives it all he has. So now we have four Berber drums all beating into the night.


Exploramum and Explorason – Explorason asleep under the stars

Before I know it, Explorason is asleep under the stars.


Exploramum and Explorason – I fall asleep under the night sky of the Zagora Desert

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.

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