Friday, March 1, 2013

Trip to the Sahara Desert, Morocco

For the past 2 days we have been on a trip with Arib Voyages to the Sahara desert, 455kms south of Marrakech and only 20km from the Algerian border. The drive is long, 7+hrs, but the scenery along the way is very beautiful as we passed through the Tizi n'Tichka pass in the high Atlas mountains (2260mtr altitude) then the middle Atlas mountains. Following this we drove through the lush palm grove in the Draa valley before eventually reaching the sandy dunes of the desert of the Sahara. Along the way we passed many villages that looked seemingly unchanged for centuries, blending into the surrounding with their houses made from the locally available rammed earth. Our wonderful guide Aziz was born to a nomadic family who roamed the Sahara with a camel train. He told us his parents insisted that he and his siblings be educated, so from an early age they lived in the village of Mhamid near the Algerian border where they attended school, followed by university in Marrakech. Aziz is currently studying for his Masters degree in Tourism and culture and was very knowledgeable on the areas we visited and the local customs. Our accommodation in our nomadic Saharan campsite was in bivouacs, individual tents covered with blankets and rugs   which were both practical and authentic. The site also included a communal dining tent where in the evening we were entertained by 2 local men who played some wonderful Berber music. Of course no trip to the Sahara would be complete without watching the spectacular sunset over the dunes then a full moon rise like a 2nd sun, over the uncluttered horizon. Sunrise created the most beautiful light and a camel ride completed the Saharan experience. The trip was an event we shall remember forever and it gave us a greater insight into the people and history of this beautiful country.