Sunday, September 20, 2009

Moroccan Adventure: On our way to Sahara

Blockbuster Trip
WANNA RIDE?. This is what I call public transportation
They say that what we should value more is not the destination itself but the road tackled to get into it.
Our 40-hour journey to Sahara was filled with breathtaking places, friendly people, and many unforgettable experiences. Though we had to suffer sitting in a van for the entire day in blistering heat. We left Marrakesh early morning to join the tour to Sahara. I and Danco joined 5 other people - 2 British ladies in their 30s-40s, a Brazilian guy and a girl who are the same age as we are and our tour guide, Hammid.
Our first trek was through the Atlas Mountains. As we stopped to take photos and our guide was telling us about the mountains, Danco asked Hammid "Why are the Atlas Mountains famous?", and he replied "Because they are HIGH.". ah. yes. of course. :-)
High Above the Atlas Mountains
Berber Village
HIGH UP THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS. Danco and I behind a stunning view of the Atlas. Below is a sample of the Berber village
We also passed by some interesting Berber communities. The indigenous people of North Africa, they are primarily farmers living on the edges of the mountain slopes. Typically, you can identify them by wearing a pointed hood. We arrived around lunchtime at Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO heritage site made famous for being movie locations of Ben Hur, Gladiator and the upcoming Prince of Persia. The kasbah is a huge sand castle, glimmering in bright yellow. While at the site, we also had a taste of Moroccan cuisine - couscous and tangine with beef.
Tangine with beef
ALLADIN's CASTLE. The famous Kasbah of Ourzazate in Morocco.
DELICIOUS MOROCCO. Some tangine with beef.
After lunch, we drove through again through a bit of the Atlas mountains and through some towns. Sitting in a car for more than 5 hours, as you know, can be boring. Back in the Philippines, we used to just crank up the radio with some CDs. Our trip, on the other hand, we only have 2 CDs - Bob Marley hits and a CD with Arabic music. Bob Marley music is no doubt a driving music, but listening to it more than 8 times, it gets tiring. It was just too much "Three Little Birds".
By afternoon, we reached our end destination for that day, Dades Gorges. A gorge is a deep valley between cliffs usually carved by a river. You have to pass through winding roads to go the viewpoint. Upon reaching the top, both Danco and I had the "The world is amazingly beautiful" talk, well truly it is and it's only the beginning of our journey. We finished our day with some Moroccan music (with amateur drumming by yours truly) and a nice sleep in a hotel along the gorge.
Dades Gorge
Little Drummer Boy
ROAD TO HEAVEN. Perhaps one of the most stunning views ever, Dades Gorge. BELOW: LITTLE DRUMMER BOY. Enjoying the night with my drumming skills
We woke up the next day to continue our drive to Sahara. We stopped by Tondra Gorge, where instead of viewing the gorge from the top we walked from below. Again, it was breathtakingly amazing.
Tondra Gorge
TONDRA GORGE. A nice view with one of your good friends. What couldn't be better than that.
A piece of advice though, be careful with your camera. I learned it the hard way. While I was crossing the river, I slipped with my camera on my hand. So, yeah, my 6 month camera went down into the water, never to work again. :(
Though I got pissed about my camera dropping into water, I didn't let it spoil my vacation cause after a few hours drive, we finally reached the Sahara..

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