Brown red colored houses and roads make the bright colors of spices, painted dishes and scarves pop out on every corner. Hundreds of tiny shops lined up in narrow streets seem a bit overwhelming at first, but it makes Marrakesh so different from other places. Ones you drive away from the city the beautiful surroundings of the Atlas Mountains embrace you. Hours of driving through empty dust roads without seeing a living soul. Until you arrive in the desert: the feeling of the red Sahara sand beneath your feet makes you feel like you are part of this earth a little more.
The first time exploring a new culture is always exciting to me. Morocco is one of the countries in the northern part of Africa. But Marrakesh, one of the largest cities in the country, has a Middle Eastern vibe as well. You have to adjust to the way of life there. People approach you with goods or tell you where they think you need to go without asking. Most of the time it is a genuine gesture, but you do have to be careful accepting help if you don’t want to give any money. The helpful Moroccan people do make sure you get to the right destination through a labyrinth of small streets.
These walls tell stories and give you a hint of the ancient culture that comes with it.
One of the most wonderful things were the places we stayed at in Marrakesh. The so called Riad’s formed an oasis of peace and quiet. The moment you step foot in one of these Riad’s, you won’t even know you’re in the middle of such a vibrant city.
It’s worth going around the huge ruins of palaces and other places. These walls tell stories and give you a hint of the ancient culture that comes with it. Restaurants and markets serve food with simple baked breads. It is usual to eat food with your hands, which is so funny and strange at the same time. Moroccan dishes usually are made in a ‘Tajine’ (a special earthenware dish) with the main ingredient of couscous or potatoes and either meat, fish or vegetables.
‘Yalla Yalla’ – Arabic for Let’s Go
A road trip through the Atlas Mountains to the desert is just breathtaking. We booked our trip through Get Your Guide. Everything was arranged very well and easy to follow up. Our guide was super friendly and told us stories about the Berber society living in the mountains.
Every family has their own ‘land’ to crop vegetables and make sure they won’t run out of food entirely.
For example: driving up the road early in the morning you’ll see men walking or riding their donkeys to the city to trade and buy food. At least a 4-hour trip one way. Isn’t it crazy to think about their way of life comparing to ours?
When we passed a mountain village made out of rocks almost dissolving in its surroundings our guide told us you’ll only see women and children because men are gone for work during the week. Only after two hours of driving we traded the warm winter weather of 20 degrees Celsius for fresh mountain air surrounded by snow and a little while after that we are walking around in the heat of the desert. Ouarzazate, a small remote village, is mostly self-sufficient. Every family has their own ‘land’ to crop vegetables and make sure they won’t run out of food entirely. Walking around hearing these stories are a very special part of every trip to me personally.
A Berber evening
The Sahara Sand is a red-brown color. It’s amazing to see the ground, and in this case, the sand is so different from other places around the world. Which makes this experience unique once again. We walked with our group of six through a small part of the Sahara with our dromedary. Fun fact: Morocco does not have camels, just dromedary. I was really surprised. We watched the sun set and rise the next morning. Imagine pictures you see of sand dunes that glow and seem untouched in the sunlight. It is something you can’t compare to anything else.
We dined a home-cooked Tajine meal made by the Berbers we camped out with in the desert. After that they made a little campfire and we danced and sang to their music. It brought everyone together and it was so fun to see them play so passionate and including us in a small part of their culture. This video is a little impression of the evening made by the talented Ruben Stam.
Photos are made by Ruben and myself