When we decided that the desert is a must-see for this trip, we instantly knew we had to book a tour. Noone wants to deal with broken down cars in the High Atlas or getting lost in the Sahara. We found a three-day trip from Marrakech to Merzouga on “getyourguide” and booked it because of all the good reviews. I´m really happy with our decision and over all I´d recommend it. Our driver from the “Ando travel” agency picked us up from Djemaa el Fna, the main square in Marrakech, at 7am. After meeting up with the other participants, we drove towards the mountains. We got very lucky with our driver and group. All in all, we were nine people: our driver, a couple from Italy, a couple from Germany, an Australian and us three girls.
(Toilet break panorama)
The highlight of the first day was Aït Benhaddou. A guide showed us around this famous town that´s been the set of many movies/series such as “Gladiator” or “Game of Thrones”. Only few families live there now, but in former times it was full of life, not just full of tourists.
The bridge on the left is the official entrance to the city, but there´s also this sandbag bridge. The kids try to help you over it to earn a few dirhams. If you feel capable of crossing on your own, you can decline their offer by not taking their hand.
This art project is supposed to warn about the pollution caused by the movie production and the tourism.
(Men fabricating bricks)
All kinds of souvenir shops try to sell you clothing, art, jewelry… It´s interesting to look at but definately overpriced.
(View from the top of the city)
Due to heavy rainfall, some streets were flooded. We were glad that we had such a reliable driver.
We then drove through “Roses Valley”. Sadly, the roses only bloom around May. That´s why it wasn´t very exciting.
Such signs in the landscape as you see above are very common. They apparently mean “God, king and country”.
Rainbows and rain on the way to the desert… not what we´d expected, but definitely impressive.
After spending the night in a hotel in Tinghir, we got shown around town by a guide. Of course, we were offered “enough” opportunities to buy carpets, scarfs etc. Still, it was interesting to see what a normal Moroccan city is like.
(View over the oasis town Tinghir)
Next stop: Todra Gorge. When we were given 40 minutes to explore this canyon, I had my doubts that we´d need so much time. However, we found so many photo-worthy spots, we enjoyed every minute.
Hours and hours of driving were rewarded with Moroccan everyday scenes that seem like out of a movie for Europeans.
While crossing this river, our driver suddenly stopped. We´d never seen it flooded like this and attributed it to climate change. He said that a few years ago such amounts of rain had been unthinkable so close to the desert.
Now, it was time to ride into the desert. The only problem: there was a sand storm. And rain. Yeahh! We learned how to protect our ears, mouth and nose by wrapping a scarf around our heads, and then hopped onto our camels. Even though there was no golden hour or gorgeous sunset due to clouds, it was an amazing experience. Beautiful, quiet, endless,.. We got ready for dinner after nightfall and had a great time with our fellow travellers. The camp was simple (especially the bathroom) but fine for a night. Be sure to bring plenty of water- you´ll need it to brush your teeth and wash your face.
We got up very early the next day and went back to civilisation. It was rather cold outside. I had a slightly uneasy feeling as we were walking to the camels in the dark. The dependency on our guides to get us out of the middle of nowhere was weird. Regrettably, we were up too early to see the sunrise. That´s pretty much the only thing that could´ve been organized better.
Strengthened by a breakfast, we headed back to Marrakech. Nine long hours of driving. Fortunately, none of us got really sick during the trip. My emergency kit did come in handy, because some of the others really didn´t feel great.
Next and last Morocco blog post: Marrakech