21 Feb 2017
I wanted to experience Morocco’s Sahara desert. I have read that it would take a lot of time to actually take the public transport. With limitation of time in mind, I decided to join a shared group tour package for 3days and 2nights from Marrakesh to Fes from http://www.marrakech-desert-trips.com/tours/marrakech-to-fes-desert-tour/. There were cheaper options like 120Euros but booking on their website wasn’t clear enough. So the package I got was 169Euros. Not so bad considering that it would also include accomodations and meals for the said period.
I had to meet with the driver at 7am at a meeting place close to my accommodation. He arrived past the said time. Anyway, it was ok. I heard that Moroccans love to take things slow. Pinoys too.
We started driving at about 9am. There were 8 people from the group, 2from HK, 2 Spanish, 2 Dutch, 1 Aussie and 1 Pinoy.
We drove through the icy High Atlas Mountains and Tizi Ntichka towards the UNESCO heritage Kasbah Ait Ben Hadou. A lot of Hollywood movies were shot there. Along the way, we passed to many interesting towns as well as Ouarzazate.
At lunch, I had the most best Beef Tagine. The meat melted into my mouth. After lunch, we headed to Boumalne Dades passing through the Valley of Roses (but there’s no roses as of the that time) which was a few kilometers away from our accommodation for the night at Dades Valley.
Hotel name was Hotel Kasbah Dades Chems. I was in an old hotel at the middle of I didn’t have any idea where. There was a lot of confusion in terms of room allocation, hence, I was transferred from one room to another three times.
Finally, I was given this room at basement 2 with very limited Wifi connection. It was cold and the shower floods. I think, it had something to do with me, being too low under the ground. Felt like I was buried under there. I imagined an earthquake happening while I was under there. Wahhh…not a good sight.
We had dinner after that, chicken tagine this time. There were performances also, while we were eating. It was a yummy and lovely night. As always, I slept through the night despite the strange feeling of being buried underneath.
22 Feb 2017
After a simple breakfast, we drove towards one town with a huge land filled with different fruit bearing trees. We were introduced to these trees and we then, went to a collection of Kasbahs close to the land to visit one family who hand makes mats using the vertical technique, which was now, according to them, uncommon. It was tempting to buy but I wasn’t really into buying huge items when I travel.
After the visit to the family, we strolled around the alleys again and finally ended the walk in a souvenir shop.
Very close to this site were canyons and mountains which they called Todgha Gorges. It was a beautiful place. He had lunch after this. It felt like it was the onl restaurant in town. Actually, it was the only building around the area. Haha I had a very basic pasta for I was starting to get tired of tagines.
We continued on driving towards Erg Chebbi Dunes, Merzouga. It was said that we were so close to Algeria already that we could see the mountainous borders between the two countries. Amazing!
We then, proceeded to a grande hotel in the Sahara. We were asked to bring along only our neccesities for the night. Haha we were leaving this beautiful hotel for a night of camping underneath the star-filled sky. Outside the hotel, our camels were patiently waiting.
We rode our transport to the camp, a very very cute one. Mine was a 14 year old camel. Our caravan started and I thought to myself, this was what the Three Kings from the Bible to look for the Manger and I was impressed. Halfway, I felt so sorry for the animal because I knew I was heavy. They said camels could carry up to 200kg of load. Pity to the animal was there but at the same time, I was also suffering myself because I only realised then that to ride a camel was a torture to your groin and butt. It was starting to hurt badly.
We stopped for a while, climbed the highest dune in the area and watch the sun bid goodbye. Well, we saw light diminishing, the sun was hiding. After a few minutes, we continued on our journey to the camp.
We finally reached the campsite. My butt was the happiest part of my body! We were given a shared tent and we had our tagine dinner once again. All stuffed, we watched and participated in the night’s performance.
Suddenly, the performance stopped, and we were all invited to go up the tallest sand dune to watch the stars. From the camp the stars were in abundance already, how much more on top there, in the dark. Hence, even without torch light, I immediately said “I shall go”. It was ok half-way, but because of the angry winds, and my inability to see, my legs once again, shivered. We were high up in the dune. I hated myself for not being able to reach the “top on that day” and my inability to see at least one shooting star. Ahhh (if you are considering this option, please bring head lamp)
Anyway, I waited for another thirty minutes below for shooting stars, but still I remained unsuccessful. I went back to camp and just slept my disappointment away.
23 Feb 2016
Call time was at 5:40am. Early, we wanted to watch the sunrise from the sahara. So, up our camels by 6am. Riding it was more painful than the day before. Maybe because none of my muscles were warmed up yet(?). I was seriously suffering that I just wanted to walk, but I thought, walking was also tough because its like walking on shaved ice. Sand was cold and so, when I walked for a while, my feet already turned numb. I chose my camel! I was wondering all along why the rest of the caravan looked so comfortable, while I was in pain.
Just before the sun rose, we stopped over to view it. It was beautiful. Better than the sun set I think. I love the way the sand dunes looked while highlighted by the rays of the sun rising. It looked even more golden.
After a few minutes of watching this beauty, we continued on with our camel journey to the hotel where we started off the day before. This would be our breakfast place. I washed my face and brushed my teeth quickly after the meal.
Off we went on to drive to Fes, our final destination. We passed by many towns including Midelt, the huge apple sculpture along the street., that town of the rich people, I forgot the name and a lot more. Then, we had our lunch at Hotel Taddart which was a little bit pricey. Then we continued on til we reached Fes in the afternoon.
Traffic in the city was a little bit worse that most of the cities we have seen and visited the past few days. Anyway, our driver, Yuoseff, called people from my hostel, Riyad Source de Bleau to help guide me on how to go to the accommodation. I was inside the old town, medina., where by according to some reads comprises of 9000+ streets and alleys and 14 gates (Bab). I would really need someone to show me the way otherwise, I would probably be sleeping along the streets for a night.
A young boy, fetched me from the new town. I didn’t have any expectations. He asked me if I wanted to take a petite taxi to the place. I asked him how far it would be if we walked, he said 15minutes. So, ok, that would be ok, so I can sight-see too while walking.
We started walking, and I was wondering because we were already walking for more than 30minutes. I started to feel uncomfortable. I checked the map. Yes, we ere getting closer. Until we entered the medina and we started walking along those small alleys, then I realised that, yeah, we were really almost there. After 45minutes, we reached the place.
My room wasn’t ready, hence I waited, sat and observed the people in the Riyad. There was a guy with wild hair seated and everyone seemed to be pleased talking to him. He sat opposite my seat and talked to me too. His name was H. Apparently, he’s a tour operator and a friend to some of the staff there.
I settled my check in and billing first. They were charging me for a more expensive room because the room I booked was having some problems. I didn’t understand exactly, but of course, I wouldn’t let this happen to me. I said no, I would only pay for the room I really booked. H came in and talked to the staff in Arabic, and finally, he made me pay the correct amount. Until now, I have no idea what happened in there.
The boy who brought me to the accommodation, arranged for a driver to talk to me about my plan the next day. I wanted to go to Casablanca via Meknes and Rabat. I wanted to take the train but train won’t let me sight see very much anymore because of my limited time. Hence, I painfully embraced the option of going by private car. I was emailing some people which gave me the price of 200Euros for a day with the said itinerary but I didn’t have much energy to contact them anymore when I arrived. So, I went with the one the boy helped me to arrange at 250 Euros after a lot of bargaining.
Room was finally ready. It was a huge room with bright and colorful traditional interiors. I wanted to rest already but H invited me to go to a place with a panoramic view of the city, for free, using his car. I have read about these things before. I knew I shouldn’t go but I told myself, why not experiment and see if the things you have read would really happen. I only had a night in Fes and this opportunity would really make my stay there a little bit unique. So, I went. At the back of my mind, I was already thinking about Krav maga moves and things that I should be doing just in case something happen. Fortunately, nothing happened. He brought me up to the hill, helped me take some photos and invited me for coffee after, together with the 2 spanish girls from the Riad and the staff that charged me higher a few minutes before. As always, coffee was great.
After coffee, we went back to the Riad. One of the Spanish gals asked me if I wanted to get dinner with them later on. I readily said yes, for a change. After 30minutes, the 2 girls, H and the Riad staff walked along the alley to a small cafe. There, we’ve met one more friend of theirs and we had dinner together. So, 3boys and 3 girls happily walked back to the Riad.
I guess I was just a little naive, but I was a little surprised that the 2 sets paired up and disappeared together. When I realised what was happening, I immediately said, I would go and sleep already. But this one remaining person asked me if I had space in my room and if he could stay there, which of course, I would say NO. NO, sorry, that would feel uncomfortable then I ran inside my room, locked it fully (checked many times) and became paranoid the rest of the night.
I slept a little.