Morocco from Atlas Mountains, back to Casablanca


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Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech
September 11th 2013
Published: September 11th 2013
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This is the 3rd and last blog on Morocco

DAY 5 HIGH ATLAS MOUNTAINS, OASES & OUARZAZATE.



After a 7.00am rise, we ventured towards the oasis of Tinehir, and then on through the Todra Gorge – the Grand Canyon of the Sahara. This was amazing, with cliffs towering up on both sides of the road.

We then went to Boumalne-du-Dades, where we encounter the dry rugged Dades Valley, dotted with oases of figs, olives, date palms and with castellated mud houses hugging the slopes. The colour contrast between the brown/red mountains and cliffs with the green oasis on the valley floor was stunning. There are many aquifers and springs in this area.



We then stopped in the desert for Berber tea and almonds at an Imam’s house at a traditional Kasbah. We were able to ask him many questions on his life as an Imam.



Our route of 1000 Kasbahs concludes at Ouarzazate, film capital of Morocco, with everything from Lawrence of Arabia to Star Wars being filmed here .



Our hotel was beautiful and is the hotel where all the actors stay when they are filming. There were many statues and other props dotted all around the hotel. There were Egyptian statues and many others. There was a massive pool and even a table tennis table that Tom & I had a game on. Dinner was in the hotel that night.



DAY 6 & 7 MARRAKESH, PEARL OF THE SOUTH.



We had to get our cameras ready for our stop at the village of Aït Benhaddou, boasting one of Morocco’s finest Kasbahs (which is a hotel/restaurant).

We then continued via the spectacular Tizi n’ Tichka Pass before descending down through many hair-pin bends past charming mountain villages, dense woods and green fields to the ochre coloured city of Marrakesh.



That night we went to the main central square (Djemaa El Fna Square) in Marrakech where 1000s of people congregate 7 nights a week to have dinner, watch dancers, local musicians (yes Tom got a CD!!) snake charmers with cobras, and trinket sellers.



We then went to a restaurant on the edge of the massive square and had beautiful local food including lamb from a tagine, couscous and a desert that was a puff pastry with light white custard dribbled over it. We were also entertained by a belly dancer who was young and beautiful, and 3 different local musician groups with whom we all danced. It was a lot of fun. The group of people we are travelling with have been fantastic also.



The next day’s sightseeing started back in the bustling Djemaa El Fna Square. After trying the fresh orange juice we walked into the Medina (old town), seeing the Koutoubia Mosque, whose minaret dominates the Marrakesh skyline. No other minaret built in Marrakech is allowed to be higher than this land-mark. We also included in our visit a walk through the Palais de la Bahia, built in the late 19th century, intended to be the greatest palace of its time. We then visited a local herb pharmacy, and other than the very hard sell to buy their products (including Viagra!!) it was an interesting session.



We then walked through the Medina and many of our group haggled in the souks (shops). We then all got back in our bus and several of us were dropped off in the new area. Tom & I walked around and then found a place for lunch and had a lovely thin-based pizza before catching a taxi back to our hotel.

We joined our tour director for pre-dinner drinks by the pool and then went to the hotel for dinner…again, another traditional Moroccan meal.



DAY 8 BACK TO CASABLANCA.



We were up at 7.00am and in the bus by 8.30am. We were given a copy of our group photo by Hassan, our tour director, which was a nice touch. We have been very impressed with Insight Travel.



We then headed back towards the Atlantic coast, so we said goodbye to the snake charmers of Marrakesh and drove back to Casablanca. We really have experienced the traditional charms of the country, and although tired, Casablanca is a fascinating place to visit, offering a unique insight into modern Morocco. In many ways, the economic capital represents the hopes and dreams of the country.



Then there is time to enjoy this vibrant city at your own pace. Tonight, of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in the entire world, there is apparently only one place to be. We join your Tour Director at Rick’s Café, recreated from the famous movie, Casablanca, and owned by an American lady. Several of the areas of the restaurant were a replica of the scenes in the movie. There was quite a bit of antique furniture on the 3 levels of the restaurant. We enjoyed a four course Celebration Dinner including drinks and, and we listened to a rendition of “As Time Goes By” to continue the theme of the film Casablanca. Here’s looking at you kid.!!!



On returning to the Sheraton, we said our goodbyes to those members of the group whom we would not see the next day, making sure email addresses were exchanged. They were a great group.



DAY 9 DEPART CASABLANCA.



We flew out of Casablanca Airport just before 4.00pm back to Madrid by 6.30pm. It took just over 3 hours to go through all the police, security and customs process. Every step of the way was a long process, but we eventually was on the plane, boarding feeling satisfied we had learned a lot about Morocco .


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