A Travellerspoint blog

Sahara night

Bucket list stuff! That was how much I enjoyed my night in the Sahara desert. From the moment I first spotted the huge sand dunes on the horizon to the time we departed I was absolutely transfixed my this magical place. As we approached the Sahara I asked our guide if I should take runners or sandals for the overnight stay. It was up to me but if I took sandals to ensure I had a torch so I could look out for scorpions in the night. Runners it was then! Once our mini bus pulled up at its final destination for the day we had the obligatory Moroccan mint tea, then we climbed aboard our individual Dromedary for a scenic 90 minutes trek across the sand dunes to our desert berber camp for the night. The largest dune, Erg Chebbi, is over 200m high and it was not long before I as huffing & puffing my way up to the ridge line then along it onto the top of the dune. The trip down was much quicker and much much more fun :) After sunset our berber hosts put on the best Tangine meal I have had in Morocco so far. Fully sated I moved away from the camp lights to watch the millions of stars slowly appear one by one in the darkening sky. Soon we were around a campfire being entertained by the Berber hosts playing their bongo drums. Most people soon retired for the night but the 4 of us who remained enjoyed the spectacle of a full moon slowly rise from behind a sand dune whilst listening to 'Bas Moon Rising' by Credence Clearwater Revival. Pure magic. I soon turned in for the night but it was not long before I was up again watching sunrise over the same dune the full moon and appeared only a few hours earlier. It was then back on the camels for the trek out and breakfast. The rest of the day was spent in the mini bus as we completed the long drive to Todra Gorge.

Are you looking at me?

Are you looking at me?

Camel train

Camel train

Camel train under full moon

Camel train under full moon

Dunescape

Dunescape

Ripples

Ripples

Sahara sunrise

Sahara sunrise

Mud house window

Mud house window

Posted by adtamo 13:12 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

The wheels on the bus.......

Today was a transitional one as we spent most of it in the bus travelling south as we make out way towards the Sahara desert. The road crossed the Middle Atlas mountains where I was surprised to see some patches of snow remaining from the recent Moroccan winter. The scenery was spectacular, rocky wind swept plains flanked by rolling mountains. Occasionally we would spy a shepard with their herd of sheep, women washing clothe in a stream or the small stone huts of the nomads.

Our one stop was to see the Barbary apes, which are only found in this region of Nth Africa. Considering this is was disappointing to see tourism in it's worst form, people were just crowded around the apes feeding them bananas & dried fruit, posing next to them for pics, you get the idea. After 10 min we were called back to the bus and I was happy to leave.

Tonight will be spent in the small village of Midelt, set in a picturesque location with the snow capped High Atlas mountains as the backdrop. The are plenty of Apple orchards in the area which are just starting to sprout blossoms in the emerging Moroccan spring. A cold front has just rolled in and rain looks imminent. That would be my luck that it rains tomorrow evening for our night camping in the Sahara desert. Will touch base again in a couple of days.

I took only 1 photo all day so for your viewing pleasure I have included some more pics from the Fes medina.

Barbary Ape

Barbary Ape

Tannery worker

Tannery worker

Lamp

Lamp

Looking up, Fes

Looking up, Fes

Mosiacs, Fes medina

Mosiacs, Fes medina

Posted by adtamo 09:18 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

Funky, Old Medina

Today was spent in the Fes medina area, which dates back to the 14th century. The entire Fes medina is UNESCO listed, a living outdoor museum. Located behind a high wall, the medina is a car free zone of narrow winding alleys populated by merchants, craftsman & locals shopping for their daily meals. The first area of the medina we came across was the butchers souk complete with tongues, offal and even a camel's head just hanging around. The highlight of the day was the visit to one of the famed tanneries where I was pleasantly surprised to find the smell was no where near as bad as had been advertised. The bowls of dye, with workers up to their knees into it, are the trademark of the Fez medina. Lunch was lamb cous cous after which we visited Al Karaouin, the oldest university in the world. A great day.

Fes tannery

Fes tannery

Drying in the sun

Drying in the sun

It's a hard job but someone has to do it

It's a hard job but someone has to do it

Fes medina

Fes medina

Did I really see that!

Did I really see that!

Fes fountain 1

Fes fountain 1

Fes fountain 2

Fes fountain 2

Old royal residence, Fes

Old royal residence, Fes

Fes royal Palace door

Fes royal Palace door

Posted by adtamo 14:44 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

MMMM.........

Moroccan cities are comprised of 4 main noteworthy areas, being the Medina, market, a mausoleum & mosques. The Medina is the name used for the old city within the new modern metropolises. Medina's are usually within ramparts with a maze of narrow winding alleys ready to confuse locals & tourists alike. Within the medina's are the markets, which are the vibrant pulse of the area. The markets are split into sections such as fruits & vegetables, butchery, spices/dried fruits, textiles and then specialty areas for master craftsman such as metalwork, leatherwork, potters, weavers, carpets, jewellers, perfumes, painters and so on. A mausoleum is a large, stately structure where an important peson has been entombed. They are ornately decorated with colourful mosaics and always containing a fountain. Finally are the mosques with their square minarets which are unique to Morocco. Mosaics at the mosques are comprised of 4 traditional colours yellow, black, white & green symbolising important elements of the Islamic faith, though blue & red were added later on.

This morning we explored the town of Meknes and it medina and market. As it was a Friday, being the holy day for Islam, the mausoleum and mosques were closed to non-moslems. Lunch was in the medina where we purchased camel meat then took it to the barbequerer where is was cooked over hot coals and serves as a hamburger with traditional Moroccan mint tea. Afterwards we travelled on to Moulay Indris, a holy place in West Africa. It is said that 7 pilgrimages to Moulay Indris would equal a single pilgrimage to Mecca. Sounds like a good money making scheme to me! Finally we visited the Roman ruins of Volubilis and then made our way to Fes for the night. Dinner was at a local restaurant where we I tried the local specialty Pastilla, which is a pastry usually filled with pigeon though the restaurant replaced this with chicken instead. When served I was surprised to find my Pastilla coated in a layer of icing sugar & cinnamon. Hmmmmmm I found the combination of very sweet and mild savoury taste not to my taste buds preference. Back to tangines & cous cous tomorrow.

Tatooine alms seeker

Tatooine alms seeker

Fountain, Meknes

Fountain, Meknes

biscuits

biscuits

Royal palace entrance

Royal palace entrance

Camel burger with Moroccan mint tea

Camel burger with Moroccan mint tea

Gateway in Meknes

Gateway in Meknes

Posted by adtamo 21:25 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

Le Tour de Morocco

semi-overcast

Today was the start of my 2 week Intrepid tour of Morocco. There are 16 people on the tour, 14 of which are Aussies. For Day 1 we travelled by train to Rabat, the capital city of Morocco. Upon exiting the train station we were met with the left overs of an earlier demonstration including police and military in full riot gear. Glad it was over before we arrived. We spent a few hours walking around the Rabat medina, including visiting our first Kasbah (which was only a small one, or so we were told) and the mausoleum of Mohammed V. Unfortunately a thick fog was rolling in from the Atlantic for most of the day so visibility was very poor. After our time in Rabat was concluded it was back on the train for the 2 hour journey to Meknes, our destination for the night.

Music man, Rabat

Music man, Rabat

Kasbah of the Udayas wall, Rabat

Kasbah of the Udayas wall, Rabat

Shoe shine

Shoe shine

Shoe store Moroccan style, Rabat

Shoe store Moroccan style, Rabat

Spices

Spices

Posted by adtamo 14:25 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

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