A Six Month Odyssey

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January 26th 2020
Published: January 26th 2020
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Fes-Ifran- Ziz Valley

This morning we left Fes for Ziz Valley, travelling through Ifran, a town you could be forgiven for thinking you had been transported to a Swiss village full of chalets.....and that also includes snow!Yeah baby, its snowing in Africa today! The higher we climb, the thicker it gets and we have to detour as the road we need to take is closedWe made a quick stop in Midelt to see the Barbary monkeys before heading to our hotel in Ziz Valley, one of the world's largest oasis. We've scored a tower room on the roof top, probably because there are only 7 people staying, but I'll take it. The views are lovely but there isnt much to do now until tomorrow except eat.Its the usual affair with salad and olives to start (there is a bowl of mixed olives on your table morning noon and night!), and then a tagine followed by fruit. Note to self- dates and almond!


Ziz Valley-Erfoud-Rissani-Merzouga

After walking in and around the oasis this morning with local guy Said, we are off to spend our first night in the Sahara desert passing by the

Toe up front
city of Erfoud and stopping at one of the many shops that make beautiful fossil pieces from when the Sahara was below the ocean!Weve deviated from the itinerary and stopped in a town called Rissani, where two of Hamid's sisters live with his little niece and nephew. They are very excited to see him and they have also prepared lunch for us. They dont speak English and you wont believe this , but we dont speak Berber or Arabic, so these sorts of events always leave us feeling like shags on a rock! Tea, nuts and biscuits are the norm here when you welcome someone to your home. I think Shane is wondering where his olives are. Lunch is presented in a massive tagine, from which we all eat together. Its filled with cous cous, chicken, turnip, carrot, cabbage, olives, the list goes on.Once we arrive in in Merzouga, its time to head off by camel in to the dunes of Merzouga. I'm pretty excited to be heading this camel train! Princess kodak is going to get the best picsIts a pretty comfortable ride.....for the first 20 minutes at least! You remember that pain in the butt you get after you thought it was a great idea to get your bike out of the shed and go for a ride for the first time in 2 years? Its like that, and THEN its like your butt cheeks start moving apart and you're cringing at the thought of having to deal with chaffing between your butt cheeks as well as a sore butt! And there's another another 2 hrs to go!The camp is fantastic, and as cold as the desert is, the tent is toasty. Showers, toilet, super thick doona and extra blankets....this is my idea of camping.A beautiful chees tagine for entree, and then chicken and salad for main. Note to self - onions and pomegranite juice.Drums and dancing by the fire under some of the brightest stars I have ever seen.What a perfect day!


Merzouga -Ramlia

We've returned back to the town today, not by camel but by 4x4 WD. It's quicker, and I dont think my backside can take it. Hamid has been promising a desert picnic all week, trying to decide what to take because I dont want sardines, and they like sardines. Apparently Berber pizza is the best pizza in the world, so we've stopped for one to take away and at 3pm, after what seems like forever bouncing around over rough desert terrain, we finally stop in the middle of nowhere for a picnic. We've collected sticks and stones for the fire for a pot of tea, and another fire to warm the pizza, which doesnt quite go to plan. Poor Hamid. It's still really delicious though- a bit like a stuffed base, and oh so tasty. We arent staying at out scheduled accommodation because apparently its still closed, so we are staying at Kazbar Maggaman in the town of Tafrioute - Sidi Ali.

The family here who run the guesthouse are so incredibly welcoming and friendly and have told us all about how the kasbar was built by their grandfather, and about the local customs and marriage ceremonies. This is also Hamid's home town. Its not at all what I was expecting. Although the family gardens and palms across the road are beautiful from the Kasbah, the rest of the town looks like Beirut quite frankly. So many of the old homes have been abandoned and people have moved away they tell us.

Its has a certain charm because of the people and the community spirit. It's a tough life out here and everyone is so happy.Our room is really basic tonight, but we have been fed until we couldnt eat any more (my favourite tagine so far because the chicken and vegetables have been cooked in a type of chilli oil), the water runs hot and our bed is comfortable and I got to laugh my head off watching baby goats go crazy as only baby goats can do. What more could we ask for ! 😊


Todra Gorges - Dades Valley

After another incredible night in the desert, we are off to visit the rocky lanscape of the Gorges, and the high Atlas, and the green beauty of the Dades Valley.Before we leave town though, we go to pick up Hamid who has stayed with his family overnight. His sister, sister-in-law, little nephew and two nieces have invited us in for tea, biscuts and bread before we leave.Outside as we leave, Hamid has told his sister in law that we are grand parents. She starts laughing and looking at me strangely. Apparently I am too young and beautiful to be a grand mother! I really like this lady....alot 😆We stopped to walk around the gorges of Todra, towering rock cliffs that reach 600 metres in height, seperated by only 10 metres in width, and they extend for several kilometres. Spectacular. ...as are the scarves they are selling along the roadside. Don't mind if I do!We are staying in the Dades Valley tonight at Xaluca hotel, and have finally got in early enough to head down the hill and in to the town.Funniest thing happened on the walk back in to the hotel. A little girl of about 8 comes straight up to me as she and family are walking out of the hotel. She's positively beaming and grabs my hand and reaches out to kiss me on the cheeks. Then she asks me to have a photo with her, which I do. Then the other ladies want to get in the photo as well. They're absolutely gushing! I dont know who the hell she thinks I am! Its been quite the day for compliments.Buffet dinner tonight after another enormous , you guessed it, tagine lunch.Hamid has renamed Shane "Knackers". Unfortunately Shane has been teaching him a bit of Aussie Slang, and Hamid is loving it.So its "Hey knackers, do you want some lunch?" Or " Are you going ok knackers?" Shane says: As I've told you all before, Sharls has expensive taste. Hence why she married me. Lol. She walks over to scarf boy selling his wares. "Which one you like Fatima?"(apparently a compliment). Sharls points to the scarf she likes " How much?"Scarf boy replies "All same price except that one, very expensive.Of course it is i think to myself. Best i take over the bartering from here. He drops from 200 DHS to a buy at 140 DHS. Approx 14 Euro. Equivalent to a nice bottle of scotch here. Done deal. Very nice scarf I must admit. Another bottle of scotch coming my way. He shoots, he scores. What an amazing trip we are having so far. Two weeks in. The people here are absolutely brilliant. Hospitable, friendly, smiling at every turn. People wanting in interact. Welcome to Morocco from voices everywhere. Once they know you're Australian it's " I'm so sorry what is happening in your country". The people are so genuine. Its been a real privilege to travel this country. Don't think it'll be our last trip here. Sharls says: ah, hold on a second Knackers, you're already up a bottle of scotch and some. .... I'm still up by 80dhs!

Additional photos below
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Todra GorgesTodra Gorges
Todra Gorges

Hamid and Knackers

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