May 15, 2012

The Sahara!

We were up for the sun came up, packed our bags and headed downstairs in our lovely Riad Boussa. The night before Brigitte informed us that we could leave our big bags behind while we took a small backpack for our 3 day Saharan adventure and that our bags would be neatly placed in our room again when we returned in a couple of nights. Upon hearing about our early departure, Brigitte gasped and said she would be ‘tending to her beauty sleep’ but ofcourse Bruno would be up at 5AM preparing a breakfast just for us—and so he did! We walked downstairs and there he was! Bruno was standing smugly right next to a red-tiled table full of fresh orange juice, Moroccan pancakes with cinnamon and sugar, yogurt, fruit, mint tea, coffee and a steamy plate of scrambled eggs—and there was a single candle illuminating the table (the sun was barely peaking it’s head up). This Bruno guy knows how to impress! No wonder sexy older Brigitte loves this swooner!

Once again navigating through the alleyways and across the Jemma el Fna as the sun rose, we got all giddy as we found the place we booked our very affordable tour with—Moroccan Views. Soon we met all the other 20-somethings joining us on the tour: a couple of Brits, a few Kiwis and Aussies, an American traveling solo and our tour guide Mohammed. Piling in the van, we hit the road pretty fast, making it up and through the Atlas Mountains in no time.

Christian and I didn’t do much searching as to where we were headed on the tour besides the Sahara so we were amazed once we pulled into Ait Benhaddou for lunch. Ait Benhaddou is an ancient Kasbah and old desert city that served as the backdrop for movies like Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia. With its medieval brown and square houses, it’s like stepping back in time and we’re sure that no renovations were needed before filming. We never knew such a beautiful place could exist randomly in the Moroccan countryside! After exploring the Kasbah, hiking to the top and enjoying mint tea in a Bedouin cave, we had to hit the road—our eyes were dead set on the Sahara still another several hours away!

Over the next 24 hours, we stopped at plenty of desert villages—Ouarzazate, Erfoud and, finally, Merzouga—the last stop before the Sahara. Driving up to it felt like ages but we could see the orangey-red dunes in the distance getting closer and closer—we made it! Plopping our stuff at the Kasbah at the foot of the dunes meant we grabbed whatever we needed for one night in the desert, picked out our faithful camels for the journey and then we were on our way. This was basically a photo and laugh-fest of everyone saying ‘OMG we’re IN the Sahara!’

While camels aren’t as comfortable as one may think, I was so in awe of the scenery. The ripples of the dunes looked like silky untouched sheets and random camels would appear in the distance. It was then that I saw our camp a few hundred yards ahead. The fun didn’t stop there though, each of us had our go at sandboarding (after I jumped off my camel and he sneezed out a gigantic worm!) and rolling down the dunes and once we were finished a campfire was blazing. Freshly made Moroccan tagines and salads lined the tables in the middle of the circular camp. It got dark fast but this only meant that the stars were more visible than ever.

While our sleeping quarters were housed inside the tents, nearly all of us dragged out or mattresses by the campfire and opted to sleep under the stars instead. The night went by way too quickly and I struggled to keep my eyes open as I stared at the stars above—then was awoken by the sound of camel grunts in the morning :). We had a camel ride back to the Kasbah and a good 10 hour drive back to Marrakech so we had to hit the road but when we got back to Marrakech we were beaming with delight and were greeted affectionately by Brigitte at Riad Boussa. As promised our bags sat in our room and a fresh pot of mint tea was on the way.

Sitting on the roof terrace eating breakfast the next morning, we raved about how much we absolutely loved Morocco and how it was most definitely one of the best, if not THE BEST, holidays we’ve ever had.

{Ait Benhaddou}
{Touring old movie sets in Morocco! The Mummy, Gladiator, Gomorrah, etc}
{Merzouga at the foot of the Sahara...}


jessica said...

This looks amazing!

Jenna said...

This looks SO cool - and as always, the pictures are stunning! Jurgen and I went sand boarding in Namibia a few years ago, it was so much fun :)


m_b said...

oh my gosh amazing! it reminds me of the alchemist! what an adventure!

nancy said...

just.. wow. incredible!

Amy @ My Life and Other Nonsense said...

I love your stories! What an amazing trip. You are one lucky girl!

Gesci said...

This seriously sounds completely wonderful! I am dying to go there now (I wanted to before, but now I'm dying to!!). I can't wait to read more posts about it!!

kim @ a positive peace said...

amazing!! these pictures are awesome! what a cool adventure!!

chanel said...

Wow....I'm entirely jealous. A camel through the Sahara. Wish I was there.

xo chanel

A and B said...

That is so crazy! I'm incredibly jealous!