A Travellerspoint blog

A night in the desert

Morocco 2015

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large_1297706_1447265057425.jpgToday we had some time to kill, the camel ride was scheduled for the afternoon so we had the whole day to relax at the pool, have lunch and relax at the pool again. For the camel ride we had to put some stuff in a daypack, the rest of our luggage we can put in one of the Auberges rooms. We gathered at the terrace and saw 'our' camels arrive and get set for 'their' tourists. Some of us wanted their scarves in the traditional way wrapped around their heads and the hotel staff was kind enough to help them with that. Getting on the camel wasn't easy for everyone, and as the camel is getting up you have to hold on! Our guide is not getting on a camel, he walks along side and takes pictures of us with our own cameras. Funny moment as the front half of the camels walk on while the back half stands still and one of the girls in front of me is screaming 'I'm Loose'.large_1297706_14472650977694.jpg'our' camels arrivingThank god the camels don't feel like taking off so the issue is quickly taken care of. Only a few minutes into the ride we are surrounded by sand dunes andcivilization is nowhere to be seen. Liesbeth is riding the camel with the supplies so she can't really get comfortable (to the extent that is possible on a camel) Halfway she decides she wants to walk instead so we stop to let her get off the camel, with some encouragement of the rest of us our guide gets on the camel instead.

We arrive in our desert camp a little bit before sunset so we have to run to get to the top of the sand hill to only just mis the sunset, damn. We do stay on the hill for a bit to enjoy the view only to come down when from the camp someone shouts 'dinner!!!!!' Another (smaller) group arrived at the camp as well, they watched the sunset from the camel's back.large_1297706_14472651331332.jpg In the area between the tents there are two low tables and cushions/mattresses to sit on, and dinner is no surprise: Tajine. I let Nicole open the bottle of wine we brought and the crew brings us some glases. After dinner, music. Not really my thing so I wander off outside the camp, I'm not the only one, there are more stargazers among us. The stars are even more bright than last night with now and then a shooting star, I saw three throughout the night. The music in the background, the stars above what else do we want?

We can choose to sleep in the tents or under the stars, I chose the latter. We get a blanket and if were still cold we gat get another one from the box. After a bit I realize there are less people sleeping outside than I thought so I can put another mattress on top of mine, thats much better! I don't know how much or little sleep I got, I remember staring at the stars and then someone turned the lights on in one of the tents and then the noise of pots and pans.large_1297706_14472651998780.jpgSo there is wine!I sat up and there was one of the crew with hot tea.

It's just tea, freshen up a bit at the one basin at the toilet room and back on the camel again. We thought sunrise would also be a miss for us since the air was a bit cloudy but it turned out okay and we all got the nice pictures. Back at the Auberge we decide to first have breakfast and shower later, we didn't smell like camel very much anyway (or at least we thought)


Posted by Stefmuts 06:35 Archived in Morocco Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises desert camping camel Comments (0)

The reddish sand dunes of Erg Chebbi

Morocco 2015

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large_1297706_14472641065963.jpgAfter a long drive (almost the whole day) our driver went off-road on to a faintly visible trail. We could see the sand dunes in the distance and we passed several Auberges on our way to Auberge Yasmina. Every next one that came in sight we kinda hoped it was the one, we had more then enough of this bus ride. Finally we arrived at wat seemed to us to be the last Auberge in the row (don't think it was though) We were welcomed with a cup of the traditional Moroccan tea and then we were shown to our tents. The Auberge also has 'normal' rooms with bathroom and all, but we were to sleep in the bedouin tents and use the shared facilities, not that that's a bad thing, on the contrary, we all got the good old camping trip feeling.

After putting our stuff in the tent and checking it out, it's pretty luxurious, light, a socket to charge our phones (vital in this digital age) and a nice bed, we sat on the terrace and watched the sun go down. I took some pictures but they're not that special or as one of my fellow group members said it: It wasn't a great sunset, there have been better ones. Diner, what a surprise, Tajine! At dinner we shared one of the bottles of wine we brought, the bottle of red we safe for tomorrownight in the desert. After dinner I walk on to the first sand dune outside the Auberge to look at the stars, they are so much more clear out here! Seems Morocco has more stars than Belgium.


Posted by Stefmuts 06:12 Archived in Morocco Tagged desert nature Comments (0)

a picture from 'One thousand and one nights'

Morocco 2015

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large_1297706_14469032525873.jpgAït Ben-HaddouIt was a 5 hour drive from Marrakech [Marrakech-travel-guide-1082075] to Aït Ben-haddou with some photostops on the way. We are really inthe land of the thousand kasbahs, the most beautiful little villages almost blend into the surroundings. We stopped just outside the new town of Aït Ben-Haddou at a spot where we had a nice view on the old Ksar. When we arrived at our Hotel we found out the last stop wasn't really necessary since we had a beautiful view from the hotel pool area. Our hotel is called la Kasbah so maybe the name should have given us a hint. Some of our group go and change into their bathing suits, not me, I think 2 hours is too little time for the hussle. We only have 2 hours before we have to get ready for the tour in the Ksar, the old town so I choose for just chilling by the poolside, enjoying the view and trying to post the picture from 'One thousand and one nights' on my facebook page, which didn't work by the way.large_1297706_14469032477630.jpg

For the tour of the Ksar we gathered at the riverside were our local guide was waiting for us. There's no water in the river today so we don't have to use the stepstones or the modern bridge. The guide tells us a bit about the Ksar, the people who used to live there and are now living in the new village across the river. He also points out the archways specially built for the movies, one for 'Lawrence of Arabia' the other for 'Jewel of the Nile', I'm not sure if that's correct though, couldn't find anything on the internet about that, maybe he just meant they were in the movies (maybe other TB-ers know more about that? Please tell me!) I did find some pictures of 'games of Thrones' at Aït Ben-Haddou, they pimped th Ksar up a bit but it's clearly recognizable.

Inside the Ksar a labyrinth of small alleys, we first proceed to the top of the hill for the great view at the fortress on the top.large_1297706_14469036849054.jpg On our way down from the top we visit one of the houses. Most are abandoned but we were told that there are still some families living inside the Ksar. After the tour we cross the bridge to the new town where we decide to have dinner a bit earlier than planned so we have the evening off.

Back at the hotel a couple of our group (including me) install themselves on the seats besides the hotel entrance with a can of beer bought at the neighbours (a restaurant)


Posted by Stefmuts 22:59 Archived in Morocco Tagged landscapes mountains desert culture Comments (0)

Escape from Marrakech, exploring Imlil area

Morocco 2015

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large_1297706_14462308262751.jpgToday we leave the hectic city life of Marrakech [Marrakech-travel-guide-1082075] behind to go hiking in the High Atlas mountains at Imlil [Imlil-travel-guide-1080938]. This one day excursion is optional so not the whole group is going for this hike. Our tour guide knows this area very well so we don't need a special mountain guide to show us around. We do need a mini bus and a driver to get us to the start of the trip and in the afternoon back to Marrakech. After breakfast, around 9 o'clock the bus arrives and were off to Imlil. It's a big difference from the city, less traffic, a lot less traffic, and as we start walking even no traffic at all. We walk through a forests of walnut trees where locals are harvesting the nuts. It reminds me of the walnut tree in my garden, I did not take into account the harvest time for walnuts, what's my garden gonna look like when I get home ? After a bit we leave the trees behind to climb higher up the mountain.large_1297706_14462308094034.jpg The village in the distance is where we are going to have lunch, good to know but it's still a long walk away. We all enjoy the beautiful landscape of the High Atlas and now and then we stop and our guide tells us something about the area, flowers and birds. Some local people on a donkey pass us on the narrow path, it's the only traffic up here. In the village on the other side of thevalley we can see some cars parked, but most group members try to keep it out of frame while taking pictures not to spoil the magical view. We walk down into the valley and into the walnut forrest again and the up into the village. The last bit to the lunch spot, the steep stretch of asphalt is difficult for me, I'm getting tired and I'm hungry. The lunch makes up for all discomforts. The location is Tamatert guesthouse.large_1297706_14462308477696.jpg Where we have our tagine lunch in the sitting room. Shoes off before entering! The lunch was great, the typical tagine meal, but the walk made us all appreciate it a lot more. After lunch we walked back to the bus and in the afternoon we were back in Marrakech. To top it off we decided to have dinner on the Jemaa el fna square. The square looks totally different from day time, lots of small restaurant stalls have emerged. Our guide said he knew a good one so we followed him twice around the block to land at number 41 (Chez Ssaid) but he was right, it was a good one!


Posted by Stefmuts 03:39 Archived in Morocco Tagged landscapes mountains nature Comments (0)

City tour Marrakech

Morocco 2015

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large_1297706_14457017589243.jpgMost of the group already had contact through WhatsApp so it was almost like meeting old friends at the airport and before landing in Marrakech [Marrakech-travel-guide-1082075] the missing ones were located as well. We met our guide at the airport in Marrakech and next morning we were ready to see some Morocco! First thing on the program: the city tour Marrakech.

Our guide led us to the starting point of the tour where we had to wait for another guide to show us around. The city tour is a walking tour since most of the city center is car-free. We walked past the Koutoubia mosque, just the outside area and the gardens. Some of us took pictures with the traditional water carriers, for money of course. We visited the Saadian tombs, this is really beautiful! As is Bahia Palace where we took a short look around to rush off again to visit the many different souks. This part of the tour could have been a bit less rushed, we didn't have any time to look around in the shops, just had to run after our guide to the next section, and the next, and the next.large_1297706_14457017372886.jpg At the end of the day we did have some free time to go shopping in the souks but by then we didn't feel like walking too far off the square. jemaa el fna square is the main square of Marrakech, here you can find the snake charmers during the day and lots of eateries during the evening. It looks like a whole different Square in day or night time. But as for lots of places in Morocco be careful when taking pictures, some people will ask money, like the snake charmers ( 'pay money or delete picture' they will shout if you try to sneak off ) and some just don't like their picture taken. There's lots going on at the square, things to see, things to buy, eat, drink. I was advised to only drink the fruit juice that was freshly pressed because some would try to sell you juice mixed with water, so I did and it tasted great!

I went shopping with two other group members and after that we took a taxi back to the hotel, we bargained for the prize before getting in but at the hotel he wanted more money so we just got out and left the driver being angry for not getting enough money.large_1297706_14457017412594.jpg We later checked with our guide if we didn't really underpay the poor guy but he assured us we paid a fair prize.


Posted by Stefmuts 03:03 Archived in Morocco Tagged buildings city sightseeing Comments (0)

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