To get from Fez to Marrakech, we did some research: Going by train or bus along the coast to the south was too time-consuming and renting a car and driving was too expensive. So, we decided to book a guided tour to Marrakech. It lasted three days and included the pick-up at our accommodation in Fez, the ride to Merzouga, an overnight stay in Merzouga (including dinner and breakfast), a camel ride to the Sahara, the overnight stay in the same (including dinner and breakfast, of course) as well as the trip to Marrakech – where we were brought to our hotel. All this at the price of 150 euro per person. In hindsight, this was the right decision and I can only recommend this experience!
Somewhere in Morocco
During the trip we stopped at several locations to take pictures. Our driver Rachid was in a very good mood, and we talked throughout the whole tour. He did everything possible, so we would be satisfied. For example, I wanted to see the “Kasbah Aït-Ben-Haddou”. Therefore, he took a detour of 40 kilometers and was willing to extend our trip by a few hours . Only so I could take part in the guided tour through the building. I declined thankfully.
We also stopped at a few oases, in Ifrane (A skiing area, also called the Switzerland of Morocco), in the middle of the Atlas mountains to feed monkeys, in the “Hollywood of Morocco” (Ouarzazate), in the Dades valley and a lot of other beautiful places. We visited so many sights and beautiful landscapes, it’s impossible to remember all names.
The film studios in Ouarzazate
By the way, countless Hollywood productions are shot in Morocco – due to the beautiful landscape and cheap labor. The entire village of Ouarzazate is designed to live on it. There are some film studios and the residents are mostly actors or extras. Some examples of major productions include Prison Break (Season 5), Game of Thrones, The Bourne Ultimatum, some James Bond movies and many more.
By the way, the above-mentioned monkeys are wild animals that have been fed by passing humans for years. Nowadays, the monkeys rely on the humans and have become an attraction. But, you shouldn’t fool around with the animals. I did and almost lost my pants. The adult monkey just hung onto them, till I gave him the treat in my hand. Besides, the monkeys have impressive big teeth – so don’t make them angry!
On your way to the south, it is a spectacle to see the color of your surroundings change. The further you get towards the Sahara and Merzouga, the more reddish the rocks get, the green of the vegetation disappears and is replaced by shades of brown. Again and again you see whirlwinds transporting the sand to the sky, setting a magic sparkle in the otherwise sparse landscape. A change in climate is also clearly noticeable. While it was still pleasantly warm in the north, it got incredibly hot further south. In the summer, Merzouga reaches easily 60 degrees Celsius – and that is only at the verge of the desert!
After arriving in Merzouga, we moved into a nice hotel with pool, located at the border to the Sahara. That mainly means one thing: Sand – everywhere. The pool was vacuumed daily, as it got a brownish color overnight. As soon as you opened the door to your room, you had a load of sand in it and even after showering, it took less than 30 minutes and you immediately felt sandy again. Otherwise, there is not much to do in Merzouga, apart from activities related to sand: quad biking, sandboarding and camel riding. During the day it is often too hot to do anything and you prefer to hide from the sun. Our camel ride, for example, started at 6 pm, as it was too hot in the afternoon.
The camels were led by a local guy. We rode them into the desert for about an hour. This corresponds to about four kilometers. Before we moved into our tents, we enjoyed the sunset in the desert – a very beautiful experience. Check the pictures to see what it looked like – but being on site is vastly different. There is sand everywhere – in front, behind, next to and beneath you – just by pictures this is incomprehensible and I can only recommend such a day trip. It is indescribable.
Our guide in the background
In the evening, there was tajin for dinner. Afterwards, people played bongos, sang or chatted at the campfire. However, Tes and I disappeared and enjoyed the starry sky, which was unfortunately lit up by a full moon. By the way, we both felt the camel ride. I never had a muscle ache in my butt before and I hope this was the last time!
A sand fish – where I saw nothing but sand, the guide pulled him with one movement
In the next morning, after a Moroccan breakfast (bread, butter, jam, honey, olive oil) and a wonderful sunrise, we went back to the hotel by camel and the sore muscles didn’t get any better. In addition, I had a crazy camel: It never walked in the tracks of the others, but always slightly to the left. Besides, it was either in love with the camel in front of me or wanted to be peted by Tes – as it always had its head near her and cuddled alternately with Tes or her camel.
In Europe, from time to time sheep block the road. In Morocco its camels
Fossils, far cheaper than in Europe
The tent of locals
A vocal group from Merzuga
The automobile museum
Back at the hotel we took our stuff and got going to Marrakech. Again, we stopped several times to take pictures and also at a cooperative, where only women work. This way they help finance the living of their families by producing argan oil, rose oil, teas and other cosmetic products. I can only say one thing about argan oil: It is a miracle cure and worth every penny! Rubbed skin areas feel softer after a few hours, it helps with scarring and a lot of other things, but make sure to buy the oil in a cooperation and not (!) in the souk, as people often mix it with olive oil. This will give you pimples.
Street art, who recognizes the camel
We arrived late in Marrakech. The city is one of my favorite places in the world, and I was pretty excited! More about the “red pearl” in the next and last article about Morocco.