There are so many extraordinary landscapes in Morocco, which are reminiscent of those of the great American spaces. No wonder many films have been shot there and the vestiges of the cinematographic past are still visible in Zagora.
James and I are leaving for a 7-day road trip in Morocco. during which we will drive through the winding and sometimes snowy roads of the Atlas, cross villages lost in the middle of nowhere, and hurt our buttocks on chaotic tracks that occasionally cross dry lakes dotted with tamarisk. Our point of arrival is located beyond the door of the desert, with the firm intention of hiking and bivouacking in the wild Sahara desert.
After discovering Marrakech, its souks and its famous Majorelle Garden, then crossing the Atlas to get to Aït-Benhaddou, we wanted a more natural and wild adventure. And if the idea of organising a road trip in Morocco seems insurmountable to you, think again, nothing could be easier!
And what about our two days of trek in the middle of the desert of sand and stones where we spent our first night under the stars!
So yes, we were amazed, and we share all this with you in this article which is intended to be the summary of this incredible week.
The winding roads and tracks of Morocco
The roads of Morocco are beautiful and offer incredible panoramas. They also make it possible to connect many villages lost in the valley, so it is not uncommon to come across peasants in carts and even nomads on donkeys.
Meet the Moroccans
The P1506 road passes through many villages. Do not be fooled by appearances, if some seem in ruins, it is not so. You will be just as surprised to see green gardens in these Hamas of stones and houses in the red earth.
There are even some in the gorges that we overlook on many occasions, it is impressive. If few of them like to be photographed, the villagers will always smile at the passers-by that we are. It must be said that tourism here pales in comparison, yet Morocco is a welcoming and very secure country.
PHOTO TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL PORTRAITS IN MOROCCO
- Take the time to get to know the natives, almost all of them speak French in Morocco, it is very easy to converse with people. Do not take a photo on the sly, and avoid veiled women and nomads. It is normal to respect their belief and tradition.
- Anticipate your settings. Nobody will pose for the photo, if you have permission, be ready to take your shot. You will get a broad smile by showing the result to the person who was kind enough to take part in the game. It will seem silly to you, but on the roads or in a village you will sometimes be in the sun, sometimes in the shade; To avoid a blurry photo, increase the ISO significantly to maintain an appropriate speed for the portrait on the spot. Or around 1/400th.
Visit of the Kasbah of Télouet
It is this same road that will take you to Télouet, a Berber village known for its kasbah. Once again, a visit is essential and at the end of the day, the place is empty of all visitors. Lucky for us!
The front door crossed, and a long corridor soon led to the floor where the rooms follow one another and are not alike. If the beginning does not look like much, the last rooms are sumptuous. And our guide lent himself to the game to live in the place.
Our trick to blur a passing person and give more life to your scene, lower your speed to around 1/20th of a second while holding your device firmly. Only the passing person should be blurred, not the rest of the photo!
Access to the roof of the kasbah is open to the public, do not hesitate to go there, as the view is breathtaking. It will be an opportunity to make superb panoramas. On one side you will see part of the building with the Atlas in the background, and on the other, the gardens and the colourful cliffs of Télouet.
Handicrafts in Morocco
Who says a road trip in Morocco, says a lot of roads, and you will see many craft shops, even between two large rocks. While some are “reserved” for tourism, others, well tucked away, are authentic. You will find treasures there. We had a weakness for this pottery, where everything is made on-site by the artisans of the village. And they are very happy to be able to show you around the workshops. If you want to come back with some souvenirs, prefer this type of shop, they allow the inhabitants of the most remote villages to live where tourism is rare.
Trek in the Moroccan desert
Here is undoubtedly the most authentic and unique experience that we had to live during this road trip in Morocco: hiking in the desert. You have different starting points near Zagora (link this city with Part 1: ZAGORA, GATEWAY TO THE DESERT blog.). Passing the door of the desert, it is another world which opens to us. The first dessert we will tread will be Erg Lihoudi, which is discussed in more detail in an article dedicated to camel trekking in the Moroccan desert (link this last sentence with Part 2 CAMEL TREK IN THE ERG LIHOUDI DESERT blog). This is where we will spend three nights, including one under the stars. We can tell you that it’s a unique feeling to sleep in the middle of nowhere, lulled by the wind that caresses the tamarisk trees and the stars that line the sky like a night light.
Our second discovery will be even grander: the Erg Chegaga desert (link this last sentence with Part 3: THE DUNES OF CHEGAGA – PANORAMIC AND SURFING blog). By its immensity, this desert which reveals itself little by little at the end of a track is really impressive. Its colour,
its density and the height of its dunes, some of which culminate at more than 100 m, make it a truly unique natural space.
Prepare your trip to Morocco
It is very easy to travel to Morocco, it is a very welcoming country and open to travellers. We made incredible encounters and even ran into hitchhikers at the entrance to the desert gate.
Apart from a few isolated places, all speak French. It will therefore be easy for you to interact with Moroccans throughout your journey.
HOW TO ORGANISE YOUR TRIP TO MOROCCO?
For the road trip in the desert, we left with the Noble Explorer: a top-notch organisation and a warm welcome in Moroccan traditions.