Travels through the Sahara
Trip Start Dec 19, 2008
5Trip End Jan 16, 2009
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Where I stayed
met the taxi driver the next morning, and despite one of them saying the road
over the mountain pass would be closed due to snow from the day before, the
other taxi driver insisted it wasn't.
So off we went and about 2 hours outside of Fes there we were in a few
feet of snow in the Swiss-like-town of Ifrane, with a snow barrier closing off
the route. We sat there for a
while with some other cars trying to get through but the guards said we'd have
to take a longer road around.
10 hours later, we arrived at the desert, which was supposed to be only about
an 8 hour drive total
at a Kasbah, or castle shaped hotel at the base of the dunes in Merzouga,
called Kanz Erremal. This was one
of the first stops coming out of the desert along the trade routes from Timbuktu.
The staff were very accommodating to our late arrival and even had a great
dinner ready and waiting for us.
The next day we took the camels out to the desert with a guide and
camped out there one night and then came back the next morning. We were the only two people on our trek
which made it nice to be able to chat with the guide and not feel as if we were
part of a large tourist group. We
were told that during their busy season, during Christmas and summer, that
there are groups of up to 100 at a time!
rode the camels out for about 1 ½ hours and then got off the camels and trekked
up the dune to the top and got amazing views of the distance and the gentle
contours of the sloping dunes
then descended and walked down to our camp, which consisted of three tents made
of a wooden frame with Berber carpets/blankets for the walls. The roof had a canvas covering. The guide, a 20-year old boy, had our
tajine cooking and sat and visited with us while it was on the fire. The weather was quite cold when we were
in Morocco, and in the desert, the wind was strong and cold, but the tent was
surprisingly warm so we stayed inside most of the time. Interestingly, it began to rain at
night and rained all night until the morning. It was a soft, slow rain that we could hear patter on the
canvas and were happy to have shelter.
Who would have thought... rain in the desert??? We slept on foam mattresses piled on the sand, with about 5
layers of thick camel hair blankets.
Despite the outside temperature, we weren't as cold as we thought we'd
moon and the stars.
next morning, the guide gathered up the camels and we were on our way back to
got showered and had a delicious Moroccan breakfast at the Kasbah. The typical breakfast includes fresh
squeezed orange juice, tea, bread, a pancake-type crepe, served with jams and
butter. Sometimes eggs are served
getting our things together, we went out to get in the car and the chauffer
tells us the car will not start
So we wait around all day while the mechanic tried several different
ways to jumpstart the car. Finally by about 4PM the chauffer tells us that we
should look for another option to continue our trip. The hotel helped arrange this, and we left by about 6PM in
another taxi. We were a little
uneasy about leaving so late and driving in the dark, but our next stop was
about 4 hours, and we were already a day behind from the snow and road
arrived in Kalat M'Gouna by 10PM and again were greeted by friendly staff and a
great chicken tajine. The placed
we stayed was called Kasbah Itran, and we really recommend it. It was a bit cold during this time of
year, each room had a little wood burning fireplace and lots of heavy Berber
mini-fortress with neat little stairs and terraces to look out at the
view. The next morning we were
amazed at the cliff it was hanging over, and the views of the river valley and
historic castle it had views of.
Unfortunately we had to get back on the road after our breakfast,
otherwise we would have liked to explore this area more.
off to Marrakech. The road ahead passes
over yet another mountain pass, but thankfully this one was open. It was kinda like the pass over the
Beartooth mountains in Montana, lots of hairpin turns and snow covered peaks to
look at. It was amazing such a
road exists in Morocco, it seems like such an engineering feat.