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Published: November 28th 2009
Morocco - 7 weeks
We flew the 5th Oct to Tanger and lazily began to town hop.
A day in Tanger which was nothing special, 3 days in Asilah, a cute seaside town with a nice medina (old town with narrow little streets), then 3 days in Chefchaouen, Moroccos hash capital and another cute town with narrow streets but this time coloured blue and set in a cool mountain location.
The first week took us a while to get used to the pushy street sellers, but it turned out to be just practise for the more pushy Fes, where we only spent a day, but this was enough time to see one of the famous tanneries and the medina. The sellers/pushers will sell you anything from fossils, clothes, lots of hash and carpets and fluff knows how many offers to carpet shops I had, and they will also exchange for things including the shirt of your back (literally).
We spent a total of a week in the desert areas of Merzouga and Zagora enjoying the fantastic scenery. Merzouga is a little town next to a 9km x 1-2km patch of sand with dunes up to 450m in
Little blue streets in the mountain town
height but with more pushy Moroccans selling tours it had a bit of a disneyland feel. From the town of Zagora we took a 4x4 and visited another, much bigger patch of sand (100km x 40km, so said our shit guide) and this area had much more the feeling of being in the desert for real with an oasis and water bubbling up through the ground, sand whirlwinds, mirages and evidence of the sand encrouching and starting to cover the surrounding hills to make more dunes, here we also took a couple of camel rides. In Zagora we got to meet the real Moroccan people, not the ones sucking money from tourists, as we went to a depot outside of town where you could buy alcohol through a little whole in this big gate, we were there for 15 mins drinking a beer and it was amazing the number of people turning up in cars, on bikes and on foot;
In between the two desert areas we visited Todra gorge and Ait Benhaddou both naturally beautiful parts of the Atlas mountain chain and in the latter I had my Moroccan Corn Flakes, for those who dont know my
aim in life is to eat a bowl of corn flakes in every country in the world.
From the desert area we croseed the Atlas mountains to arrive in Marrakesh which was an interesting place, the famous plaza with snake charmers, story tellers and after the sunsets huge amounts of food, I think I had the same every evening with egg and olive crepes and the local harira, a cheap soup with chick peas in, all in all a 15 dirham meal. We tried to climb North Africas tallest mountain - Jebel Toubkal (4167m) and we would have done if we had taken the pink trail from the refuge and not the white one, it sounds stupid but not so easy when you leave at 4:30am and its fluffing cold, nothing was lost though as the scenery was fantastic.
Essaouira was another cute seaside town with fresh fish on sale at the port and more cute little streets and it was well worth the 3 days we spent relaxing before we continued south.
Tafrout was the next stop and set in another beautiful location with cool rock formations and rocks that look like they were placed on
top of hills by Allah himself. We camped out in this valley created by the Anti-Atlas mountains and then returned to the coast to camp again on plage Legzira (10km north of Sidi Ifni) with its two natural archways. The day after we were in Sidi Ifni and it was here that we found out that the powers-that-be no longer issue visas for Mauritania at the border, which was annoying because we had to return to Rabat, a 12 hour bus ride north. At the same time it could have been a lot worse as we were heading for the border 1200km from Sidi Ifni and would have arrived at the border to discover the news. For those travellers who might read this (as there is little information on the web), you have to get the visa from the Mauritania embassy in Rabat, go in the morning and you will have to pay 340 Dirhams for a 30 day visa available to collect the next day, we did this on the 23rd/24th of Nov 2009.
We flew from Casablanca to Barcelona for 3 days for some family stuff and will now return to Casa to catch the 31 hour
The leather tanneries
bus south to Dakhla.
The prices in Morocco were not as bad as we had anticipated,we spent an average of 90/100 dirhams for a double room, ranging from 40 Dir for a mattress on the floor of a mud room to 180 for a room with hot water shower and a balcony/terrace. Meals are 30-50 Dirhams for a Tagine or couscous, of which you will soon get sick of if you spend enough time in Maroc. For the buses you can expect to pay basically 15-25 Dir for an hour on the bus, the CTM ones being more expensive but worth if you dont want to stop at every town like the cheap buses do.
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