Chloe O'Brien Photography » Travel Photographer Chloe O'Brien

Todra Gorge to Aroumd, Morocco

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The third part of my Intrepid Travel “Best of Morocco” adventure! Marked by longer travel days across constantly changing landscapes, impossibly hard to resist woven rugs, winding roads (beware of sharp corners and falling rocks…), river walks to grander canyons, movie sets, Naturopaths, breathtaking one of kind UNESCO world heritage sites, mountain hikes, and Moroccan family home-stay’s below North Africa’s highest mountain peak – Toubkal.

After having my mind blown by the Sahara desert, I never really stopped to reflect on how rad this old underground water network of “qanats” really were – one of our first stops after leaving the sand behind.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-2The entrances were dug to gain access to the water tunnels below, with accompanying structures to haul up water. The tunnels stretch kilometer after kilometer to provide a constant water supply in the desert climate.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-3ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-4ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-10The oasis museum of El Khorbat, complete with a darling restaurant for a proper lunch.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-25ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-14ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-15The most delicious Spanish omelet. Eggs are a staple dish at breakfast and lunch in Morocco.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-12ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-17ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-19ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-20ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-21Spectacular views from the roof of the museum!ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-22ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-27Driving into the Dades valley, towards the Todra Gorge.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-30Our traditional Berber house converted into a hotel – Kasbah Taborihte for two blissful nights.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-31ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-33ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-32ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-36Early on our first morning we went out with a local guide for a walk around an abandoned village towards the Todra Gorge.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-37ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-38ALMONDS!!! I ate them. They were a bit over-ripe.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-39The way the light hits everything here is a dream.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-40ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-41ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-43Into the abandoned village.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-46ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-47Several staircases in this home had completely caved in.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-48A truck well overloaded with hay…ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-49After the abandoned village, there were small farms popping up everywhere along the river. These flowers (or herbs?) were loaded onto a basket to be put on a donkey.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-52Spiny thorny branches growing out of the cliffs.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-53Farm land around these parts, just stunning.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-54The Todra Gorge! Parts of this cliff rise 300 meters.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-55ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-58ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-59ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-60It was a day off – everyone was out playing in the stream.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-61ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-63After the Todra Gorge, we went to a local weaving co-op for lunch (traditional Berber “pizza”) and to sample buy their woven rugs.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-67ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-68ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-70Also mint tea, always mint tea. With sugar, with every interaction.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-71ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-72ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-73ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-74The temptation was to hard to resist. This Moroccan wedding blanket became a lengthy bartering session, and finally my checked bag for the rest of the journey…ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-75ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-76ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-77ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-78ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-84Our our way to Ait Benhaddou – we stopped by the Musee Du Cinema in Ouarazate. Entrance fee was 30 Dhs.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-86ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-87ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-88ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-91ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-94ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-98ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-104ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-105ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-108ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-109ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-112ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-113ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-115ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-119ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-121ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-122ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-123On our way out of Ouarzazate, we had a introduction to Naturopathic remedies using traditional homemade potions from herbs and plants. This was at La caravane des épices.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-124ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-125ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-128ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-130ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-132ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-138Since the beginning of Game of Thrones and Khaleesi I’ve have wanted to visit the real-life Yunkai, which is in fact the UNESCO World Heritage Site of AïtBenHaddou. It’s easy to see why you can become completely enamored with this city. It was one of the most dreamy places I have ever seen. We took a golden hour walk into the Ksar, walking up the winding streets to the peak. This was one of the highlights of the entire tour for me. Can I go back now, please?ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-139ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-140ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-141ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-143ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-146ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-147ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-148Russel Crowe visited this family while shooting Gladiator in this city. They are quite proud of this.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-149ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-150ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-151ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-153ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-154ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-155ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-159ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-161ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-162ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-165Back at our hotel, La Fibule D’Or, our host gave us a couscous lesson. He’s been in dozens of films and TV shows that have shot at AïtBenHaddou, including Game of Thrones.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-166ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-167ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-168The view from the roof of our hotel! ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-171Our breakfast nook!
ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-173ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-175The window view from beside my bed…ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-176ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-185ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-186

ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-189ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-190ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-191ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-192ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-194ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-197ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-199ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-200ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-205ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-207ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-208ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-210ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-211ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-212ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-213ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-214ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-215ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-217ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-219ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-222ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-225ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-226ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-231ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-232ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-235ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-236Driving towards Toubkal, into the High Atlas Mountains!ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-237ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-271ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-238After leaving our bags behind, we began the hike towards Aroumd, the main starting point for hikers en-route to the serious trek to the summit of Toubkal. It was only a few hours, with our overnight bags.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-240Can we all agree every single Moroccan rug is beautiful?ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-241ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-242ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-243ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-245ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-247ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-248ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-249Reaching Aroumd after a few hours.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-250ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-254Toubkal!ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-255ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-270ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-260Our host families house for the night!!!! There are no words.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-261ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-263Their three little kids were enchanting. Despite the major language barriers we all got on just fine.ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-264ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-266ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-267We ate supper with them and stayed with them in their home overnight.
ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-256ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-257ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-258ChloeOBrien-Sahara-Marrakech-259A unique experience, that was a highlight of the tour.
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Next up – Essaouira and Marrakesh!

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