OMG! Camels!

Trip Start Sep 08, 2006
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Trip End Dec 16, 2006


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Flag of Morocco  ,
Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hello all, sorry for not posting the last couple days, but it would have been slightly difficult seeing as i was IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SAHARA DESERT!! ;)

I flew from Milan to London Gatwick, where i had a 26hr stopover (which happened to be overnight) and then on from there to Marrakech. I found a nice row of benches in the airport and had a reasonably peaceful sleep, or at least i would have if the overhead announcers didn't keep reminding passengers "please have luggage with you at all times, or else it will be confinscated. Or maybe DESTROYED." Just a little threatening sounding, don't you think?

Marrakech was easy to get around in because the taxis are so cheap, and the hotel i was staying in was really close to Djemaa el Fna, which is the central square of the old town. The square is just hopping at night, its like a neverending party with snake charmers and spice vendors and fortune tellers all vying for your attention. Unfortunately, i was so exhausted by the time i got there that i just hit the sack and didnt go out exploring that night. The following morning at breakfast i met a british guy and aussie guy who had hiked up the atlas mountains the day before and were heading for the sahara desert. After talking for a bit i decided to tag along, and we were off only an hour later! We spent two nights in a town called Ouarzazate (pronounced war-za-zat) and during the day there we went to check out the Film studios in the town. There are alot of Hollywood movies filmed in the area because of the natural backdrop and because it's so cost efficient, like Gladiator and Alexander. Lee (brit) got the great idea to rent some bikes and peddle to Ait Benadou, which is an ancient Kasbah used in several other movies as well; it just so happened to be 22km away across arid desert badlands. It was a great ride, but the bikes had no padding on the seats so it was a painful one. The Kasbah was worth it, it's a big mud-brick fortress town on the side of a hill surrounded by lush palmtrees and greenery because a river runs through the area.

After Ouarzazate, it was on to Erg Chebbi, which is the small town at the edge of giant sand dunes that are the start of the sahara desert. The local bus driver gave us the run-around, so we ended up walking for an hour with backpacks on across a dirt road in the middle of nowhere to the town itself. We tracked down a guy who thought he could get us a two day camel trek for 500dirhams, but when we talked to his brother the price went up to 800dirhams. We bartered a bit and got it back down to 550, but the guy didnt seem too happy about it.

The trek was great, the desert dunes were amazing and riding a camel is an experiance unto itself; watching the stars at night is something i will never forget, if not for the sight of an unblemished sky then for the hilarious stories that the guys told.
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