UN THE AU SAHARA
Un petit voyage au Maroc
LA ROUTE DU SAHARA
We took a 4 day tour from Marrakesh to M'hamid, the "door" to the desert.
The first night was spent in a BB in a very deep gorge, les Gorges du Dades, which we discovered the next morning.
Then on to Ait Benhaddou. Its architecture is a stunning example of "pisé" (sort of adobe) architecture typical of southern Morocco.
The Moroccan government participates in its conservation through grants to the owners who will restore their houses.
The town's people were very proud to inform us that this is the spot where Russell Crowe's fight scenes in Gladiator, were filmed.
The doors of most houses and storage places were painted the same clay color as the walls giving the whole town a graceful unity.
The typical pisé construction with its simple lines and geometric decorative details can be seen in old buildings as well as in new construction ( a luxurious B&B in M'Hamid on the right).
We followed the very lush bed of the Draa river and its mile after mile of graceful date trees.
These amusing signs tell you how far you are from Tombouctou: by camel, it apparently takes 1/2 day from the town of the first sign to the town where the 2nd. sign was. We did it in 1hr.in our 4X4.-SUV
We had a long delicious couscous lunch in Zagora, our last stop before the desert.
A dreamy oasis hotel.
And there were the first signs that we were about to leave the road and enter the world of sand. "Keep the desert clean". And it was, mostly.
These strange vegetal wall are there to stop the sand from invading the roads and villages during wind storms.
As a matter of fact our driver, wanting to amuse us with his sand-driving skills, got stuck in a small dune 5 minutes into our entering the desert...his colleagues came quickly to the rescue and all was fine; and rather fun in fact.
We arrived at our first bivouac at sunset.
A fantastic place: sand and rugs everywhere.
Each "tent" (in fact tented roofs on pisé huts) had a rug at the door to avoid trailing too much sand inside. The interior was entirely sheathed in multicolor fabrics, the floor covered in plastic rugs with geometric pattern typical of Morocco. The whole room was a riot of patterns and color. All of it impeccably clean and comfortable, including the bathroom building, complete with 6 showers and as many toilets and a long countertop with double sinks and 2 extraordinary mirrors. (the power was generated by solar panels on the main building's roof. A very welcome answer to our unspoken question...
A wonderful sink with a funky water "samovar" and lavender soap was waiting for us at the entrance of the dining tent.
*Notice the bright yellow wedding rug used as walls.
Oh, and YES, we did...
Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Hanafi and his sweet, calm, patient, "oh- no-here-we-go-again" co-worker...and we lived to tell about it; and so did Hanafi et al.
The trip was beautifully organised by the efficient and attentive
Many thanks to each of you for such a memorable time.