Ouarzazate Excursion

Ouazazate Travel Blog

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Ascending the mountain
An Early start is need for this excursion as it is at least 3hrs drive to get there.  We drive through the heart of Marrakesh past the walls of the city.  On the bus we have 2 french couples who end up buddying together, 1 set of Danish girls, 1 Italian family of three, an Italian couple and me.  As it was such a long trip the driver did make several tea/toilet breaks but also stops for us to take some scenic photos.  He didn't speak any English so he spent the whole journey speaking french.  Luckily he used only basic phrases so I managed to understand him.  He stopped at a lot of Berber villages so that we could take pictures and he also told us about his family tree that originates from a Berber village.  He seemed very proud of his background and took every opportunity to show us that.
Toothless man with a snake
  At all the gifts shops that we stopped in the guide kept pointing out that all the gifts in the store were hand made by Berber villagers and that prices were much cheaper than in Marrakesh.  They all looked the same to me and the prices weren't that much cheaper. 

As we creep up the mountain edge the driver is an old hand at this as he glides round the corners whithout breaking a sweat.  All the passengers on the other hand are yelping under their breath or holding on for dear life.  When we reach Ait Ben Haddou, a world heritage unesco site, we get out of the bus for a walk to stretch our legs and to take photos.  We find a couple of vendors selling some goods, a man with a camel and a toothless man with a snake.  I got a couple of pictures with the camels but decided not to ride it as it smelt so bad.
Smelly camels
  The guy with the snake practically lassoed it round my neck before I even had a chance to protest.  My legs were frozen with fear and my eyes were 100% focused on the snake and his movements.  I touched it as surprised that it was so smooth, soft and cool, completely different to what I expected.  I had it round my neck long enough to have a photo then the ran away screaming. 

Next stop Kasbah Taourirt, on the threshold of the mighty Sahara and snow capped mountains in the back drop.  Its red ochre coloured landscape almost blends in with the rest of the desert.  A man with kameleons await tourists to pounce on like the snake man.  I kept well away.  We are all hungry now and are ready to have some lunch, with this in mind the guide informs us that we have one more stop for tea at a traditional Berber house before we sit down to lunch.
Kasbah Taourirt
  We park up outside a side street, the guide leads us into what looks like a warehouse wholesalers carpet shop.  We walk in like lamb to the slaughter and so oblivious and unsuspecting.  The doors close and we are suddenly ambushed by a whole group of vendors.  We then realise we are about to be ambushed into buying carpets.  The guy serves us some mint tea and proceeds to tell us the story behind each five tribes of the Sahara.
- Berber
- Nomad
- Bedouin
- Arabic
- Oriental
The carpets are all made by women and each symbol tells us a story. 
- The diamond shape = eye.  This is for protection for yourself and for your family.
- The flowers is to welcome spring, when new life and new opportunities arise.
Film studio

- The turtle represents marriage, either you are already married or intend to marry.
- A belt of turtles for a married woman means that she intend to have a family.  For an unmarried woman it represents a chasity belt.
- The carpets are usually made from camel hair and silk.
- Colours made from natural materials such as saffron = yellow, indigo = blue, henna = red.
- The carpets are usually reversible 2 faces, one for winter, one for summer.
They spent about 20 mins trying to convince us to buy some carpets but no one was interested.  We looked nervously at each other and waited for the driver to come back.  After a while of awkward silence, the driver bursts through the door to our relief.  We all poured out of their faster that cattle trying to break for freedom and jumped back onto the mini bus.
Berber village
  We were ready for food.

We had to drive further to get into Ouazazate town medina.  On route we passed a film studio.  The landscape here is known to be a luxury haven for film makers.  The bus stopped for about 2 mins so that we could get our snap.
LUNCH TIME!
We stopped off at the only tourist restaurant outside the medina walls.  It was stuffed with other tour groups.  We all got a set menu and picked our dishes.  The food was decent but nothing to write home about.  Starters, mains, fruit and pasteries and mint tea all for 100DHS which was included in our excursion price. 

After lunch Ahmed the guide took us for a stroll into the medina walls.  He pointed out the mosque, a few specialist shops and the ladies doing their daily wash at the communal water pipes.  He pointed out the red clay walls which are lined with mud to keep the houses cool.  We strol back out onto the main streets and they are so much quieter than he streets of Marrakesh.  There are less roads and less people and most things are newly built.  The temperature is stifling HOT!  It definately feels like a desert, a hot pink desert.  We head back to the mini bus and have a drive through the new town.  Lots of new developments are underway and I guess in a few years time this place will be completely different and absolutely packed with tourists.  Luxury hotels, new malls, new apartments. 

Our journey back to Marrakesh starts at about 4.30pm.  We head out into the desert and we see lots of signs for quad bike rental, where there is an abundance of sandy roads to race through.  We pass another big film studio with set scenery built up ready for filming.  The journey back feels a lot longer as we carefully descend the twisting turning corners of the mountain.  We reach Marrakesh at 8.10pm.

Nice way to end the whole trip.



powderfan says:
I enjoyed reading this blog. One of the best I've read.
Posted on: Mar 06, 2010
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Ascending the mountain
Ascending the mountain
Toothless man with a snake
Toothless man with a snake
Smelly camels
Smelly camels
Kasbah Taourirt
Kasbah Taourirt
Film studio
Film studio
Berber village
Berber village
Ouazazate
photo by: hoangn