Saturday, November 8, 2014

Morocco - Marrakesh and the Sahara Desert

Earlier this year in April, I went to Africa for the first time of my life - MOROCCO. It was one of the most fascinating places I have ever travelled to, and I honestly cannot wait to go back one day. 
Camel Riding at Sahara Desert in Morocco
Riding Camel at the Sahara Desert, Morocco
I was at London at that time and I flew to Barcelona, Spain for a night of transfer (cheaper air ticket) and I arrived at Marrakesh the next morning. It was rather chilly and rainy back in London and Barcelona, so I already could not hide my excitement after I landed at the Marrakesh airport - it was hot, and sunny - my favorite weather of all time! (I am definitely a summer person). 


I arrived to the Traditional Riad that we were staying at (Booked through airbnb - https://www.airbnb.com.hk/rooms/879643?s=BH5R - EXCELLENT PRICE and the place was extremely cute, where you can also experience living in a traditional moroccan riad! The owner is french and was very friendly - we had an awesome time there!) to meet up with my friends who arrived to Marrakesh the day before from London and Munich. We spent the day walking around, trying out local traditional Moroccan cuisines and etc. My favorite part would be the main market which is only walkable distance from our Riad. There are a lot of bargaining going on, and as a girl from Hong Kong, China, I am of course very good at it ahahahahaha with many practices before. All the food and souvenirs  were extremely cheap anyways - a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice cost less than HKD4 (~USD0.5) and i think each of us drank more than 5 glasses in a day....
I also bought many cute little accessories, pants and hand painted canvas of the desert. Everything fascinated me and I was completely mesmerised by the place.


Juice Stalls at Marrakech Market in Morocco
Juice Stalls at the Main Market in Marrakesh, Morocco
Riad Marrakech Morocco
Little Alley outside of the Riad that we stayed at
Marrakech Market in Morocco
Marrakech Market, Morocco
The next day, our desert tour guide -Moha. came to our Riad to pick us up and we began our 4 days of adventure into the Sahara. One thing I have to say is, this trip would not be the same without this best guide in the world! We are so lucky to have Moha as our guide and he took care of all the details (even when he did not have to) in order to make our trip absolutely amazing. (Moha's company: Unique Morocco Private Travel, www.uniquemorocco.com) 
Morocco

Morocco



Morocco



We first drove from Marrakech through Atlas mountain at an altitude of 7145 feet,. We passed through various villages that are typical of northern slopes of the mountains and continued across the territory of ancient Kasbahs and fortified granaries - a fortified village classified by UNESCO as one of the world's cultural treasures. We visited the Kasbahs  and also where GAME OF THRONES was filmed (OMG) at Dades Valley. Words cannot describe how amazing our day was - and it was made even better when we were driven to our hotel before dinner. We stayed at Xaluca Dades Hotel - and it was absolutely gorgeous. I would not say the same for the receptionist's service (we were horrified) but trust me, this hotel is still a must-stay! (especially given the price) Just ignore the receptionist (:


Xaluca Dades Hotel at Dades Valley, Morocco
Hotel Entrance
Xaluca Dades Hotel at Dades Valley, Morocco
Hotel Rooftop - overlooking the whole Dades Valley
Traditional Moroccan Dinner Buffet
Xaluca Dades Hotel at Dades Valley, Morocco
Hotel Room Interior
After a great night of sleep, we had some yummy breakfast buffet at the hotel and we were then driven towards the desert. We stopped by a little town to pick up our supplies for the desert trip and we finally reached Merzouga where we were greeted with traditional Moroccan tea by local Moroccans from the desert, and we also played music and danced around with them. It was great fun! 

Dancing in Morocco, Africa

We also had our heads wrapped before going into the desert in order to have our hair protected against the wind and the sand.

Morocco, Africa

We then started to ride the camels into the pink sands of Morocco's highest dunes. After 2 hours of camel riding, we reached the nomadic berber tents that we would be spending a night at. We had time to wander around the Erg Chebbi Sahara Desert Sand dunes before sunset. Traditional Moroccan dinner was served (yes, even in the desert. How amazing is that!) inside a tent. We enjoyed intellectual conversation with our local Moroccan tour guide - it was great to know more about the political situations in Morocco and Africa, as well as the history and the culture. After dinner, we sat around the tent and listened to live traditional music played by people from the desert while watching a sky full of stars. It was a truly unforgettable night.
Camel Riding at the Sahara Desert in Morocco

Camel Riding at the Sahara Desert in Morocco

We woke up very early the next morning and climbed up the sand dunes to see the sun rise from the Sahara. We then rode two hours of camel back to Merzouga.

Sunrise at the Sahara Desert in Morocco

Camel riding at the Sahara Desert in Morocco

Camel riding at the Sahara Desert in Morocco

Sahara Desert in Morocco

After a relaxing breakfast, we went onto a 4WD off-roud tour around the dunes and villages. One village that especially worths mentioning is the Gnawa Black People's Village, originally slaves brought back from Black Africa, listening to their spiritual music.

We also met desert nomads in their tents - the little boy you see below is one of these nomads - the living condition in the desert is extremely harsh, him and his mum own nothing but a self-built 'tent, some bed sheets and very minimal cooking equipments. Nonetheless, he was a very happy kid. It was definitely a day for some self-reflection.

Desert Nomads in Sahara Desert in Morocco

We spent the last night at a decent hotel, drinking tea with a local Moroccan family and enjoy a very pleasant dinner under the stars. 
Dinner at Sahara Desert in Morocco

We woke up in the morning to enjoy our last Moroccan Breakfast - which I LOVE - with a lot of yummy bread, fruits and cheese - and we started our journey to Fez, where I would depart to our next destination travel destination - Lisbon in Portugal.

Traditional Moroccan Breakfast at Sahara Desert in Morocco
Traditional Moroccan Breakfast

Beautiful scene along our drive to Fez

I  am not going to bore you with the details of my journey from Fez to Lisbon - but one thing I can tell you is - it was horrible as I booked a wrong flight and I had to travel by myself with a 25kg luggage and a 10kg backpack through 3 cities by different trains and taxis, carrying the luggages up and down the stairs, not really knowing where I was or where I should get off, not being able to communicate in the local language, trying to get to Casablanca within 4 hours in order to catch another flight to Portugal. But thinking back, I cherish all the memories and experiences during my travels - good or bad - because they toughened me up made me who I am today. and one thing that I need to add is - the places that I went to in MOROCCO ARE NOT DANGEROUS AT ALL. Many girls I know from Hong Kong have been asking me if it's safe to travel without any boys in the group as they have heard only bad things about the place and I can only say, I could travel by myself as the only girl through 3 cities with local people all very friendly and all trying to help (even though we could not really understand each other verbally). So please, do not let your wrong perceptions stop you from travelling to such an amazing country - you will be missing out a lot.

Hope you enjoyed reading about my experience in Morocco! Stay tuned for more travelling stories by subscribing to my blog!

Emi xx
@stayfitandtravel






10 comments:

  1. Hey Emi, Ive just discovered your blog, Im also a big fan of fitness and healthy lifestyle. I just wanted u to know that u have a follower from Morocco and lm happy u enjoyed traveling there! BTW ur such an inspiration, and I love ur recipes so keep goin with this amazing blog! ;)

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    Replies
    1. Hello Zeynab! I am very happy to hear that - i love Morocco, your country is absolutely beautiful (: thank you so much and good luck with your fitness journey and healthy lifestyle too! Lets keep going xx

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  2. Visiting Morocco was top on our list. We were very excited!
    We did not want to go on a group tour and finally after researching different tour companies we decided to go with a small local tour company, after lots of research we found Marvelous Morocco Tours, Iddir responded to our queries in a timely manner. I like the promptness of his replies and he answered all of our questions without problems.
    What made our trip memorable and enjoyable was our exceptional and efficient Said . His professionalism is outstanding. He was on time all the time. He really took care of the group helping us with our luggage, making sure our accommodations were fine and also suggested places to eat. He made our trip fun and informative at the same time. A very responsible person. We were confident and felt safe with him behind the wheel. He taught us Berber words and discussed about the culture and the Moroccan way of life. The highlight of the trip was the camel trek for two hours to and for the nomad camps and sleeping under the stars ,my choice. It was totally safe to sleep in the middle of the desert.
    I recommend marvelous-moroccotours to all the people who wish to visit the Desert of Morocco.

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  6. Beautiful and amazing pictures, hope you enjoyed the trip a lot. Morocco is beautiful place for visiting and enjoying holidays.

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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