High in the Middle Atlas mountains is a strange and unique little town – Ifrane (meaning “caves”). In winter this is actually a ski resort town! We passed through briefly for facilities and coffee on our way to see the Barbary macaque’s (apes) in the cedar forest.The entire town has strict building codes – to resemble resort towns in nearby France and Switzerland.So fortunate we were able to see the apes passing through! We stopped here for twenty minutes to check them out.Just a bit protective of their babies…Who can blame her, really.There were so many highlights on this Intrepid Travel adventure through Morocco – the local market at Timahdite is in the top ten. This is simply something you wouldn’t know to look for and would probably never think to stop for if you were traveling solo – especially since the wall above hides this gem of a market from the street. One of the many benefits of having a leader like Khalid show us his country!Old stale bread is collected and sold as chicken feed – nothing goes to waste in Morocco.Not pictured is all of the chickens, running free in pens until they become your supper in front of your eyes!We had all these great little tajine stops along the way for lunch, the lamb here was my favorite rest stop.Sharing tea! Another highlight for me – we pulled over on the side of the highway to ask a kind family to talk to us about their nomadic way of life (translated by Khalid 😉 of course). We talked about childbirth without traditional hospitals & medicine, education, raising young children, and how they split the chores.The High Atlas mountains await!We stayed at a very random hotel on the edge of Midelt, on a high plain between the Middle Atlas and High Atlas ranges.With every new place, we set out on an orientation walk.Tables set back at the hotel for dinner!Back on the road – and headed towards the date palmeries and the Sahara!!This date palm oasis tucked into the valley of a gorge goes kilometer after kilometer. When you are driving along the top of plains you park and can’t see the palms until you walk right to the edge – so neat.As we started to approach the dessert, queue the best hair day my head has ever seen. Good-bye humidity!The excitement builds as you get closer to the Sahara – here is a preventative measure for the encroaching sand.“Travel Camel”Camp for the night in the dunes! We ended up sleeping under the stars instead.We trekked to the top of a 300′ sand dune to watch the sunset. This took about 45 minutes with the sand just pulling you down and the steep slope.Trying to make some travel videos for Flight Centre 😉Highlight. Of. My. Entire. Life.After the sun dropped below the horizon, I waited until everyone else went back to camp and had the dune to myself. Running down the vertical wall of sand, expecting to drop forward and fall the end was a feeling I cannot even begin to describe!Me, my blanket, a mattress and the sky.My view waking up the next morning – no scorpion or snake bites 😀Morning tea before heading out – we practiced our high pouring skills.Lessons in turban tying to keep the sand out of our eyes on the camel trek back.Feeling like I need to get out of these clothes I’ve spent 24 hours in…My fellow adventurers.
Goodbye, Sahara! After leaving Fez, the entire landscape of the country shifted. Instantly the cultures and dynamic felt more like Africa and less like Europe.
Riding camels into the pink dunes of the Sahara, climbing to the summit of one that is 300′ in the air and running down it’s near vertical side, eating savory soup, and devouring an enormous chicken tajine cooked by our local hosts in the desert (washed down with Moroccan wine), before sleeping on an old mattress with nothing more than a blanket under a full moon is an adventure that will be incredibly hard to beat.
When I first started researching my solo adventure, my food lust had me leaning towards Intrepid’s Real Food Adventure – Morocco but I am so happy I choose to go on the Best of Morocco instead. Plus I still ate so. Much. Food.
If you ever have to choose between seeing a piece of Morocco, make sure an overnight in the Sahara is included!