Monday, November 15, 2010

Ten Days in Morocco: The Desert

I was amazed at how much we were able to pack into our ten days in Morocco and felt like we were able to give ourselves a wide range of experiences while we were there. The only "big" thing we didn't get to do was ride camels on the dunes of the Sahara, and only because we decided we would rather spend more time on the beach. So, our psuedo-desert experiences were the towns of Ait Benhaddou and Ouarzazete.

You've seen Ait Benhaddou before and just didn't realize it -- several films have been shot in this old ksar (fortified city), including "Lawrence of Arabia," "Jesus of Nazareth," "The Mummy," and "Gladiator." It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has been carefully preserved by Hollywood through the years. In fact, it's been almost too carefully preserved. Most of the town's inhabitants now live in the modern section of town on the other side of the river, so as you walk through the ksar, you feel like you're either in a ghost town or on a movie set. I half expected to turn a corner and meet a camera crew. As you would imagine, Ait Benhaddou is also pretty heavily touristed, and the day we visited was very windy with sand blowing everywhere, so we didn't stay very long, but headed on to Ouarzazete.

Ait Benhaddou

Walking through the ksar...

... all the way to the top for a fantastic view!

Jewelry for sale

Alex in his Berber turban

We stayed the night in Ouarzazete and took the time after we got there to tour the Taourirt Kasbah, which served as a backdrop for several scenes in the original "Star Wars" movie.

Posing on a cannon just inside the entrance to the kasbah

View from one of the windows

The next morning, after breakfast, we began the long drive west to the Atlantic coast. We stopped for lunch at Teliouine, the center for saffron, which is the world's most expensive spice, probably because it is only grown in a very narrow band of land. Most of the dishes at the restaurant we ate at featured saffron. I had a saffron and citrus chicken tajine, which was very tasty.

Camel on the side of the road


Coming soon... the Atlantic coast!


  1. I'm enjoying this so much. Maybe you should become a travel writer:) Love you, Mom

  2. Ya, too bad you haven't chosen a lifestyle that includes much travel... you would have made a great travel writer.