Centred around the enormous number of dates grown around here, being one of the biggest - if not the biggest - palmeraie in Morocco stretching from Er Rachidia down to Rissani, this festival is timed with the harvesting time for dates.
This was the first time that Ive been in the area and to ERfoud in time for the harvest and for the festival and certainly is a time that the locals get into festive mode - lots of flags around the streets, advertising and of course dates all over the place for sale.
Theres a huge exposition tent for companies and organisations that want to advertise their focus - date related - or their dates. Very professional stalls and exhibitions - with an official Governmental opening held on the first day.
The second evening had a long night of entertainment - with various music and groups from around the area on stage - Moroccans always love this!
and the markets have dates for sale all over. My connections though said Risssani is still the best place to go buy your dates rather than here at Erfoud when prices are elevated - and even visiting the Risssani souk to look for dates there were so many dates for sale there too - of all varieties and prices - made some excellent photos!
Driving around the area is excellent too as the locals are out harvesting their dates - dates out drying in the palmeraie, the remains of the orange branches in piles, donkeys laden up with dates on their stalks - a really photogenic and interesting time to go around and see the sights.
For dates of the festival it can be tricky, you need to have good contacts that keep uptodate with the often many date changes for when its held - usually in October but this year the last days of September into October
if you have to stay in a town well Rissani is the choice - its the historical town/city for the sahara in that area, the major city for the caravan routes that went down through there - there are things to see in Rissani such as the souks which are rather specifically things well worth seeing when in that area - i wouldnt go to the area or Rissani without going for one of the souk days - there is also the kasbahs, mausoleums, palace, to see and circuit touristique - not to mention decent eateries where you can order sahara pizza - I wouldnt even think about stopping in Erfoud other than for the petrol station, the ATM machine and the internet cafe, maybe one of the hotels for a beer beside the pool and a trip up the hill there - but thats it for Erfoud!
The sand dunes of Merzouga are one of the stars of the Moroccan tourist circuit.
Most tour groups use Erfoud rather than Rissani as the staging post before Megouza: it has the necessary restaurants and hotels. Trips by Landrover can easily be arrranged, many leaving at a thoroughly ungodly hour in order to cantch the sunrise.
At eleven or so they all arrive back in town. Duty done. Have a quick Coke and catch the bus out.
It is about a 45 minute drive by four wheel drive from the hotel in Erfoud to the Saharan dunes. The drivers let you out and point you eastward. You can be lazy and take a camel across the dunes or you can set off on foot. We chose to hoof it. There is no danger of getting lost because a host of Touaregs will descend on you as soon as you set forth towards the towering dunes. Each Touareg will choose a few people and lead the small group to a somewhat isolated vantage point. Becky and I had this Touareg all to ourselves. He spoke no English, but a little French. I'm ignorant in French, but Becky remembers her French from her high school years. Becky and the Touareg had a nice conversation. I took photos.
Ok. Ok. It's not really possible to take much of anything from the Sahara. But still, words of wisdom to live by when visiting any fragile ecosystem. The Sahara is spectacularly beautiful in its starkness, but we would not want to have the whole world to be this barren.
Two or three kilometres southeast of town, thie fort is still used by the army so the very top of the hill is, frustratingly, off-limits.
You have to go where locas go to have mint tea. Talk to some and always answer their smiles with a smile back. That's not going to hurt you!
This guy just stared at me for almost 1 hour.