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Published: August 9th 2017
Geo: 30.9173, -6.91912
Moroccan Landscape is very dry and colorless, but is fascinating in every direction you look. It may look harsh and un-inviting, especially when it's extremely hot, but hidden treasures of old towns and green oasis are commonly found.
We signed up for a three day tour to the Mergouza Sand Dunes, but to get there we had to endure two days of driving. There are many companies out there that provide these tours. There is also a two day trip to the Zagora Sand Dunes but from what I have heard and from some photos I have seen they are not as impressive as the Merzouga Dunes.
Merzouga is hard to do and and to enjoy in a two day time frame. After talking with an agent, the pull to Merzouga was strong but we had already booked our train to Fez from Marrakech. Unknowingly we were told we could go to Fez from the desert.
We decided in the end to change the train return date and forgo the departure date which meant we had to go back to the train station to get them to change the date on the ticket. It was a shame we didn't know about this
earlier but no real harm done. So we were offered 900dirhams each for the tour, around $100.
The shown price was 1100dirhams, so we thought we were getting a discounted rate, but on reflection I guess they take the price down a bit because we don't take the mini bus back to Marrakech making you believe you have been given a discount.
Never the less it was going to be a great trip and I had never been to a desert before.
We met at 7am, we had the same driver and the Belgium couple from the day before at the waterfalls were also on the same trip. So were facing two days in the car hoping in and out at various sights along the way. The group was from all over, Belgium, France, Korea, Poland, Brazil, Australia and English. The trip took us over the Atlas Mountains with nice valley views and through some arid land. I love seeing random people in the middle of nowhere waiting on the side of the road for a lift, waiting in the shade and escaping from the heat. At about lunchtime we arrived at Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, a world heritage sight that has been
used for countless movies such as Gladiator, The Mummy and Lawrence of Arabia.
Most of the old town is uninhabited, but it is amazing to see the houses and buildings built with mud and straw with bamboo used to support the floor which feels very shaky and ready to cave in, but the temperature inside is cool and welcoming from the hot temperature.
A combination of an early start, very hot weather, walking and long distances in the mini bus made most people fall asleep. Towards the end of the day we reached the Dades valley which has some odd rock formations called the monkeys fingers or paws, something along that line.
We finished the evening at a hotel which was included in the tour and had dinner as a group where we had soup and chicken tajine then it was off to bed. I found it annoying that a few of the others complained about the food.
After an included breakfast we got on the road early again, another full day in the van, but at least we would reach our goal in the end and be riding camels into the desert.
I love the dry landscape and a beautiful green oasis
running through the middle of a town, adding colour to the dry surroundings. We then hoped out of the van for about an hour in Tingir and were taken around some fields. We had a "guide" but he never spoke to the group as a whole or explained anything, where as I saw the other group was stopping for explanations.
We looped back in to the town and taken in to a house where the locals were part of a community that moves every 6 months. Here they were selling rugs and explaining the process of the rug making. Some of the rugs were very nice and amazing designs and colour made from all sorts including camel hair and cactus. The colours came from different plants.
Anna and I were quite keen on buying something but didn't, it was a bit disappointing as we would have like to purchase something from the house because the money would go to the community.
After almost loosing a few of the others, we drove to the Todra Gorges, a high rock valley for about 1km. The two French girls and the Brazilian continued walking way up the road which caused some annoyance to the driver.
It was soon back in to the van for some more driving in very hot weather. It really takes the energy out of you. Trying to keep yourself hydrated can be difficult when your drink warms up.
On route to the Merzouga Sand dunes we also stopped off at another oasis place and a place where they have a huge underground connected water wells. It is quite interesting to know how much water there actually is in this areas despite how dry it looks. Our driver used this opportunity to have a music session with the locals.
Eventually we made it to the sand dunes with one last stop for water. It had been a long and hot trip to get there but it provided stunning scenery and countless memories.
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