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Epic Road Trip To Morocco Desert

Two days in Marrakech town had some great experiences and fun with other travellers. My second wish was to hit the desert.

Before getting to Morocco I knew that if I was visiting it I would be visiting the Sahara Desert as well. I mean I normally do not schedule a definite travel route while backpacking just in case I like a place so much and would like to stay longer and explore a bit more. But really who could visit Morocco and not visit the desert? It’s funny though I didn’t prepare or do any research about it. I simply joined the 3 Days 2 Nights Atlas to Sahara road trip to the desert.

The following day I went on to the minivan, I was kind of sad to leave the hostel and other lovely travellers who I just met.

Three Dutch, a Melburnian couple, our Moroccan tour guide and navigator, they were my new friends we all met in the bus. It was odd at first as I was the only one travel alone. By the end of the trip, I would have to say it was painful to say goodbye to them!! I cannot describe the awesomeness experience it was with strangers!

Let The Roadtrip Begin!

 

 

Day 1

Part 1: Atlas to Desert

Leaving from Marrakesh at 7am we travel towards Ouarzazate, driving across the Atlas Mountains. The Atlas Mountains provide a route between the coast and the Sahara Desert.

 


cobalt blue a very signature color all over Morocco

 

 

 


across the magnificence of the Atlas Mountains

 

 

 


driving through some 200km mountains

 

 

The sun was hot in early morning, and I shifted uncomfortably through driving and turnings. After 2 hours drive and turn, I had motion sickness. Yeah! I was only at the start of the 3 days trip.

A short stop for breakfast didn’t help get rid of my dizziness and nausea. I changed to the front seat sitting next to Mr Guide. To counter the rays of sun that pour in through the windows, I opened the side window. Breath of fresh air helps all.

 

 

 

Part 2: Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah

After 4 hours drive, our first big stop was in Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah. In my older post, it is a 16th century fortified village and a UNESCO world heritage site. You can really feel like you have travelled to the past, no wonder this place is the top film shooting location.

 


a striking example of southern Moroccan architecture

 

 

 


beautiful character

 

 

 


the pattern

 

 

 


earthy yellow colour

 

 

To reach the fortified village, it is necessary to cross the river using the stepping stones.

 


the river is dry in dry season

 

 

 


stepping stone

 

 

 


earth and clay brick buildings climbing up the hill

 

 

 


climbing up and getting down hill

 

 

It kind of reminded me of that series on Grand Design that one of the owner applied Moroccan earth and clay brick technique designed for his new home. The new house was gorgeously built and very eco-environmental.

 


now and then

 

 

 

Part 3: On the road – Through the window

On the road to Dades Gorges, I saw beautiful landscapes and many authentic and modern Berber villages. Though the dry climate making people difficult to live, the high and middle atlas slopes have dense forests containing pine and oak trees. There are many fertile valleys where livestock can feed. 

 


Hollywood in Arabic writing? Could someone tell me what does it mean ? 😉

 

 

 


busy on something dudes?

 

 

 


Mr Navigator

 

 

 


endless

 

 
I couldn’t stop taking pictures through the window.

 


the desert is so huge

 

 

 


water streams from underground

 

 

Driving through mountains where I saw beautiful landscapes and many authentic Berber villages. I have the best visual view in the front seat. By this point I’ve forgotten the unpleasant beats on my head.

 


rocky landscapes : 1

 

 

 


passing by a small town through Merzouga

 

 

 


walking to work ladies ?

 

 

 


just walking the camels

 

 

 


where are you going fellows ?

 

 

 


bye now

 

 

 

Part 4: Still on the road – Dades Gorges

 


the human creation

 

 

 


beautiful oasis surrounding the town

 

 

 


glistening green fields

 

 

 


dense forests in the atlas slopes

 

 

 


rich vegetation 

 

 

 


rocky landscapes : 2

 

 

 


little Mohammad with grandma

 

 

 


spending the night in a delightful hotel near the gorges

 

 

 


lovely lighting

 

 

 

Day 2

Part 5: Todgha valley and gores

Second day after breakfast, we visited Todgha valleys.

 


driving through the valley

 

 

 


stunning rocky landscape : 3

 

 

 


don’t be shy Mr Guide, we know you want a swim

 

 

 


cosy hotel in the valley

 

 

 


hello babe you are such a cutie

 

 

 


what a beautiful day crossing the valley

 

 

 


yellow earth the protection colour

 

 

 

Part 6: Towards Merzouga, the gate to the dunes

 


aromatic moroccan food: Tagine for lunch

 

 

 


a road in the desert

 

 

 


waiting…camel crossing……

 

 

 


no fun without few drinks for sure – the liquor shop in the last post World Map

 

 

 


which hotel ? well none of the above..

 

 
The multi day road trip into the Sahara from Marrakech was authentic. After one and a half day drive, we finally arrived the gate to the dunes Merzouga in Day 2 afternoon. The epic journey ends in the Merzouga desert but it didn’t mean the entire sahara journey ended here.

 
~~~
 

As I have mentioned at the beginning of the post, I got pretty bad motion sickness on the bus. It’s not nice to get sick while travelling. How to get rid of motion sickness and without any medicine with you? One of the best things, which you can do to get rid of motion sickness, is to look far and horizon level outside the car, plane, train, bus, boat, or get fresh air until you feel better and comfortable. If you feel like you’re going to throw up, do so, rather than keep into it.

 

I’ll see you on my second half of the epic journey Desert sunset in the next post. 😉

 

24 hours in Marrakech Morocco

 

I’ve always wanted to explore North African Sun – Marrakesh, Morocco finally. As principal of solo travel I stayed at a tradition riad hostel in the old town. The riad is about 20 minutes walk away to the souks and the Djemaa el Fna Square neighbourhood, which offered the chance to observe Marrakech on a local level.

In Morocco, you’ll find amazing architecture, and one of the best dream travel destinations for traveller where it seems it’s almost impossible to take a bad photograph. To me, this beautiful country appealed to me a colourful world, veiled women, distinct muslim culture..there seems to be no shortage of interesting subjects.

 

11am

Part 1: Hammam Moroccan Bath

After breakfast, the riad housekeeping lady took few other travellers and I to the local Hammam – the Moroccan style public baths. It is a bit similar as the Japanese onsen – hot spring public baths, though the Hammam retreat was my first time.

I was surrounded by naked women. To be honest I was kind of embarrassed. I received an intense head-to-toe scrub-down experience, a full body cleansing and exfoliating until several layers peel off like strands of dirty spaghetti by using Olive oil black soap. You’ll be amazed dead skins that falls off your body and you’ll literally leave in new skin. Later lay down on the stone floor which took one-and-a-half-hours to complete. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable cultural experience you won’t forget.

 
 
 
 

2pm

Part 2:  The souks

You can’t leave Marrakech without at least a quick visit to the souk’s. Marrakech has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco. The souks are situated on the narrow streets — some covered and some open-air comprising mainly the bazaars, colourful handicrafts and workshops for which Marrakech is so well known. You can also find all kind of things there, from fine leather goods, spices to beauty products, tea pots to tagines, beautiful jewellery cheap but nice souvenirs and much much more. Seriously you can spend a whole day to walk around the souks.

 

colourful

 
 
 
 

lovely lamps

 
 
 
 

the shop front

 
 
 
 

 

jewellery and nice souvenirs

 
 
 
 

handcrafts

 
 
 
 

100% natural products – herbs and moroccan toothpicks made by plant

 
 
 
 

rug sellers, art sellers

 
 
 
 

dutchy by morocco

 
 
 
 

eyes on reflections

 
 
 
 

the leather goods area

 
 
 
 
 

Part 3: The men and women

 

the men business

 
 
 
 

beauty products shop

 
 
 
 

white on man v. black on woman

 
 
 
 

street view

 
 
 
 
 

5.30pm

Part 4: Djemaa el Fna Square

This buzzing square is at the heart of Marrakech in the Old City. There are different entrances to get into the Square where you may get lost easily. I only had a chance to visit once in the afternoon. I highly recommend visiting twice, once at daytime and then at night, it’s important since it becomes a completely different place each time particularly the crowds and the foods stall in the evening.

It’s amazingly interesting to visit the square. It was crowded with jugglers, acrobats, storytellers, musicians, snake charmers, horse riding services and juice stalls. We stopped at the snake charmers performance in the centre of the square surrounding by crowds and locals. And yes, that’s how I ended up being entertained by snakes. Looks can be deceiving but again, as the tourist it all seemed pretty fun!

 

snake charmer performing

 
 
 
 

pattern of hanger

 
 
 
 

me and the snake

 
 
 
 

fresh orange juice stalls

 
 
 
 

a soft drink or fresh juice?

 
 
 
 
 

6.30pm

Part 5: The neighbourhood

The Koutoubia Mosque is very close to the riad hostel. It’s the city landmark and the largest mosque in Marrakech. The 65m high medieval Islamic architecture can clearly visible from far. As this is a 1000 years historic old building and place of prayer, it has been restored and still the most important mosque in the city.

After turning many, many corners, I decided to stay back in the hostel – enjoy some mint teas, relax my feet in a beautiful authentic Moroccan house, shisha on the roof top.

 

the Koutoubia Mosque

 
 
 
 

earthy outside, colourful inside

 
 
 
 

no evil please!

 
 
 
 

open air

 
 
 
 

let’s have a cup of mint tea

 
 
 
 

open top in the house

 
 
 
 

can you imagine one dish one household, how many satellite dishes in Marrakech?

 
 
 
 

inside the hostel

 
 
 
 

shisha-ing in Morocco

 
 

The remarkable colours of Morocco shown by photos like these are amazing. Next it will be the wonder of Sahara desert. See you in next post.

 

A stroll in a local Marrakech

      A local bread trader selling freshly baked breads

Marrakech has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco. There are different entrances to get into the Djemaa el Fn Square. You could easily get lost in this maze. A stroll in the narrow streets, I walked away from the touristy square and main souks (about 20 minutes walk away).. I love to see how local people lives, to feel their daily lives. Today, this square and the surrounding souks are still the places where local people came to meet, and shop.

To be continued..

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