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After driving along about 5 km of flat and stoney terrain to the left comes into sight an orangeish dune of sand in the distance - quite unusual really - and this has been named the 'dunes of Tinfou'.
There are camels there at the ready for the tourists who want to take their maybe first ride 'by camel in the desert' and there are also possibilities for overnight stays for sunset and sunrise in the desert with bedouin tent and meals and typical drumming entertainment. (see also Riad Ksar Malal for excursion contacts).
Updated Mar 15, 2009
Our trip was part of an organised 8 day tour Exodus - Marrakech and The Sahara, but it is easy to arrange camel treks into the desert from Zagora independently.
We'd set off from Ouarzazate, stopping for lunch in Agdz, before arriving in Zagora mid afternoon.
A quick toilet break at the nearby Hotel Kasbah Aamaa, checking our overnight bags and sleeping bags, then across the road to meet our camels, that were waiting patiently. Our sleeping bags were transferred to panniers on one of the camels, then we were instructed on how to get onto the camels. Blankets had been placed on the camels backs, then a saddle, over which our bags were hung.
Clinging onto the saddle handle as instructed, I waited while the camel driver gave the camel the command to rise. With a slight rise into the air followed by a lurch forward, which had me facing downwards, I was then catapulted back and upwards.
Before I knew it, I was being led into the road, and off on the start of our 2 hour ride.
Updated Nov 18, 2007
Phone: Exodus UK- 0870 950 0039
Time for a Berber sing song - complete with plastic bottle drums and tourists sitting watching absolutely knackered (at least I know I was).
Deciding to spend the night in the open rather than in the tents was an interesting experience, with the distant sounds of Berbers still next to the camp fires arguing like mad over Iraq, Israel and Palestine. No, I can't speak Berber, but it was clear what the main topic of conversation was from the number of times these countries were mentioned. They're Muslims at the end of the day and whatever happens in one part of their world is always a hot topic wherever Muslims live.
Morocco uses classical Arabic as it's national language with the majority Berber language very much in second place. The Berbers feel that they are very much second class citizens in their own land and feel all the key jobs are held by Arabs who they believe wish to maintain their power at the expense of Berber rights.
The Berber language is a quirk in the Muslim world, being only one of I believe three languages in the Islamic world where the Arabic script has never been used. Every other language in the Islamic world has at some point, past or present, used the Arabic script.
I woke up the following morning having to wipe the dust of the desert from my face. Even in the very light breezes of the desert night, some of the sand particles were light enough to be blown around - mostly down my left nostril!!!
Written Oct 29, 2007
Nice sunset and even nicer knowing that the lions that lived in the area as little as 20 to 30 years ago no longer exist. Human habitation has wiped out many of the main carnivores that used to live here, including lion and leopard, and in the dim and distant past, cheetah. About the largest carnivore is a small fox with large herbivores (and a few Barbary Apes) much diminished in number.
Written Oct 29, 2007
...named after Victor Meldrew, the well known grump on British television. Meet the most miserable camel in Morocco, who along with his fellow camels moaned constantly at having to cart a load of tourists across the desert to a Berber camp.
Effective lawn mowers too, as any piece of green in their path instantly disappeared.
Written Oct 29, 2007
A pretty picture from a camel ride to a Berber camp in the desert on the way to sleep under the stars. No tips here!!!
I can hear the girls swooning now (at least my female travel companions were - darn him for spoiling my chances with the girls just by being there!!!).
Written Oct 29, 2007
Just a bit of fun, this cod sign can be found at the end of main street just round the corner of the Hotel Palmerie. Of course, it's true purpose is to be photographed, preferably in a situation involving some trifling exchange of moolah.
The Blue Man of the Desert in the foreground asked me for a dirham for taking this photo, but since I did not have the change to tip both him and the couple being photographed by him, I refused.
Updated Oct 21, 2007
Just before the halfway mark, one of our party had had enough and decided to walk, so her camel was instructed to sit, this was followed by my camel also sitting - GREAT! a break!!! er no, for some reason my driver had decided I was going to walk as well - so although it was a relief to stretch my legs and regain some circulation, it was a bit hard going at times walking first on the dried river bed, where the mud had formed shell like crusts (a bit like walking on crisp meringues!), then onto soft sand.
At the halfway mark, everyone dismounted for a short break, then we continued for another hour- me allowed back onto my camel.
In the distance I could see black dots, which became tents as we neared the dunes.
Soon we were nearing our destination.
Updated Sep 1, 2007
Address: as above tip
The small village of TAMEGROUTE , 19 km south of Zagora (and not in the VT database of places) was once once of the most important places in the Draa valley. It owed it's prominence to it's zaouia, which was a great centre of scholarship from the eleventh century onwards. The establishment nowadays consists of a care centre for the mentally ill (all donations most gratefully received!), a madrassa and a library which has on display a number of manuscripts, including illuminated korans and works on mathematics and othe scientific subjects.
Returning from Tamegroute taxis tend to leave not from the square in front of the mosque but from the cluster of buildings 500 metres back along the road, where there are a couple of places where you can get a glass of tea.
Updated Aug 20, 2007
5 km from Mhamid is the village and kasbah of Oulad Driss which made a picturesque stop along the way.
Especially as it was harvest time of the wheat so that made for interesting photos with people out in the fields cutting wheat or piles of wheat around town and countryside.
In the village is a house-museum which i didnt have time to visit this time.
Updated Jul 8, 2007