Morocco. Notes from the Land of a Thousand and One Nights
Morocco. Notes from; Some travel notes just need to rest, so to speak, time should dry them out a bit, otherwise the concentrate will not be so bright…
December 2023, Moscow was bustling with traditional New Year’s Eve worries, and the cheerful and painted Portuguese “Airbus” TAP PORTUGAL was taking us away, from winter to summer….
Our way lay to the northwest of the African continent, to the mysterious country of Morocco.
The Kingdom of Morocco is a country frozen between the “white” civilized Europe and the real “black” Africa. The land of fairy tales “One Thousand and One Nights”, with amazing ancient cities and a mix of modern rhythm of life with centuries-old traditions, repeatedly strengthened by religious customs and ways of life, washed by the waters of the North Atlantic and stretched from the Strait of Gibraltar into the depths of the African continent for more than 1400 km
Fun fact, but the south-eastern border of the Kingdom is not actually demarcated, and the country borders Mauritania in the disputed territories of Western Sahara and Algeria to the east. On the lifeless expanse of the Sahara.
But this is a lyrical digression, which will nevertheless influence the choice of areas of study of this interesting country.
Diesel Peugeot 308 with clearance of 14 centimeters will help us in studying Morocco. It is worth noting some nuances of renting a car in this wonderful country – if you plan to rent a car not from a “local supplier” but from international renters, be prepared to pay a very large sum either for Super Cover insurance or blocking of no less large sum on your card as a deductible. For a Class B car, Hertz offered Super Cover insurance, for example, for as little as $400 for 12 days, for a rental cost of $350. But we’ve long used annual insurance from WWI, insuring a deductible of up to 15,000 pounds. So in our case, Hertz simply blocked the $2,000 amount, which was a sudden inconvenience given the current realities of exchange rates.
So, what did we know about the Kingdom? Nothing much, except that when there was a funny Latin-
American series “Clone” on TV, the actions of which supposedly took place in Morocco.
Morocco. Notes from; Our acquaintance with the Kingdom began with its very heart – ancient Marrakech.
Myriads of petit-taxis and grand-taxis filled all the available space
A city of almost a million people, one of the four imperial cities of the Kingdom, nestled at the foot of the High Atlas. Absolute chaos, color and tourist center concentrated in one place.
Ancient labyrinths of the medina, thousands of narrow streets, in which it is easy to get lost and in which
Morocco. Notes from;hundreds of riads are lost, these are living rooms with national flavor….
And in the heart of the medina is Jemaa al-Fna Square, a very colorful place with an interesting history. Until the 19th century it was used for slave trading and executions. Now in the daytime there is a brisk trade in all sorts of things, accompanied by performances of artists and other strange people
But as the sun sets, hundreds of street performers, snake charmers, fire tamers appear on the square out of nowhere and dozens of street restaurants open,
Morocco. Notes from; where you can taste any delicacy from snails to goat hooves….
Life here flows leisurely, hot climate and fragrant green tea with mint disposes to this, as well as a specific attitude to the improvement of the city – the specific aromas of the street, first time surprised
Muslim culture and modern European culture coexist here in a surprising way. Jeans and djellaba, national clothing in the form of a long dress, both men and women.
Tourists can get some strange spices as souvenirs
Or taste fresh fruits grown in numerous gardens
Tourists are loved here, tourists are the source of the main income, so you should be on the lookout for pickpockets and other clever thieves.
The city is interesting and probably worth a few days spent in it, waiting for a rented car. Unhurried walks through the narrow streets and contemplation of local color, give you the opportunity to adapt to the chaos and some peculiarities of the Arab mentality before further immersion into the depths of the country.
Despite the fact that Morocco is popular with the Spanish and French, it is worth to get away from the tourist routes, you can easily immerse yourself in the color of the Arab mentality, which we tried to further realize by driving along such an interesting route, trying to get away from the classic tourist routes as much as possible…
We divided the route into three parts: mountains, desert and ocean. In the mountains, the most lively interest in winter is the High Atlas, between Fez and Agadir. In the desert, of course, the Sahara dunes near Zagora and Merzouga, and the ocean from Agadir to Sidi Ifni. As a bonus were the areas near the southern provinces of the Kingdom, which were adjacent to the Western Sahara and which are actually
Morocco. Notes from; controlled by Morocco, despite the specific international status of these territories.
A separate mention should be made of the climate of this North African country. Typical Mediterranean in the north of the country with cool winters and continental as you move south, which is expressed in a fairly strong daily course of temperatures. In Tarfai, for example, in early January we caught +32C in the daytime, and in the evening the temperature dropped to +7C….
Well, and we, on the third day of our stay in Marrakash, wading through the automobile chaos of the ancient mountain, not without difficulty managed to leave it and headed to the ancient and
Morocco. Notes from; abandoned city of Ksar Ait-Ben-Haddou
After riding camels on the nearest dunes, we decided to conquer the biggest dune – Grande Dune de
Morocco. Notes from; Merzuga, some on foot, and some by hitchhiking….
Perhaps, this is the only time when I regretted that I was here in a rented car, looking with interest how
Morocco. Notes from; Italians have fun on a prepared Defender
And in the early morning I went to the sands of the Sahara, to meet the dawn of the first day of the New Year 2023, before they are filled with hundreds of tourists
The places are certainly interesting, but the local Berbers are spoiled by tourist attention, so the service and price level are not all good here
Going north, now our route lies towards Fez, along the Atlas, through deserted and sparsely populated areas of the Kingdom.
Where mores are more serious and the influence of European civilization is not so great.
Morocco. Notes from; Women are already wearing hijabs and English is the exception rather than the rule.
Trucks that are almost twice my age…
Morocco. Notes from; And dates, growing on date palms like bunches of grapes….
Rare oases break into the stony, lifeless expanse of the Sahara and they are mostly concentrated along the canyons of the rivers
The neighborhoods are quite poor and life here is not easy, unlike in the big cities.
Morocco. Notes from; Tourists are the exception rather than the rule.
We are crossing the Atlas Mountains for the second time, now it is the Middle Atlas. The winter this year was warm and snowless. In other years in this part of Morocco, they say there are up to several meters of snow at heights of 1500-2000m. But now it’s warm and there’s no hint of snow. Yes,
Morocco. Notes from; and this is the desert Sahara too….
Not far from Azrou, a cedar forest suddenly appears. The place is notable for being home to a rare species of Barbary Ape, a tailless primate. Not thinking long, we found a traditionally short dirt road, which for some reason the rented Frenchman was not happy about and tried to lose his bumpers.
We saw the tailless monkeys, especially as they turned out to be fans of all sorts of nuts
Primates moved quickly enough along the branches of numerous trees, watching people with no less interest.
The greatest pleasure the children got was watching primates in the wild, not in the enclosure of the Moscow Zoo.
Surprisingly, male magots are happy to nurse other people’s cubs, and females readily give their cubs to males on loan.
The town of Ifrane, a branch of the French Republic in the Kingdom. European streets and architecture. No surprise – the town was built during the French protectorate.
The second and oldest of the Kingdom’s four imperial cities is Fes
The city has an old and a new medina. The old medina of Fes el Bali is considered the largest medina in the world and one of the largest pedestrianized areas in the world
It is also home to the famous leather workshops. Now they are under global reconstruction
Everyone can find a souvenir to their liking
Another place worth visiting is the ruins of Volubilis. The southwesternmost city of the Roman Empire.
Well-preserved streets and buildings.
Including numerous mosaics.
You can’t just walk past the House of the Nymphs. A child is surprised to learn that the history of her name goes back centuries…
The history of the city goes back to the Neolithic times, which means that the settlement on this place existed earlier than the III century BC.
It is certainly an interesting place, especially if you are not indifferent to the history of the ancient world.
After the mountains, the desert and the ancient world, you can finally leave the northern part of the country and move along the Atlas ranges to the ocean. To the area of Agadir, to the famous beaches
Morocco. Notes from the Land of a Thousand and One Nights of Lezgir
These endless beaches are known for the two giant arches carved by wind and water over many thousands of years in the rocks of the Atlantic coastline
Generally the whole coast from Agadir to Sidi Ifni is quite picturesque, but from Agadir to Mirleft goes the Souss Massa National Park and the road goes away from the ocean.
January is not the best time for the bathing season in the Atlantic, although if the kids are really asking
for it, and the ocean temperature is only 16C-17C….
The place has been favored for many decades by auto-tourists – campers from Europe. They have taken over the most interesting sites. Hippies, downshifters, retirees and just wealthy Europeans….
Meanwhile, we are stealthily approaching the southern regions of the Kingdom. In the area of Tan-Tan, the Royal Guard and police checkpoints begin. This is the road that leads to Western Sahara and on to Mauritania.
It becomes increasingly difficult to book a hotel – there are far fewer of them, as well as settlements, and the distances are greater. We are surrounded by the Sahara everywhere and the towns are just
oases of life Morocco. Notes from the Land of a Thousand and One Nights
In El Ouata we decide to drive another 200 km south along Tarfai along the coast, at the same time to see the national park – Henifiss.
A natural reserve where cormorants and pink flamingos live in the wild. Alas, we did not manage to see birds – we did not have binoculars, it was too far from the place where it is possible to drive a non-wheel-drive car.
The road is picturesque and runs through the desert, in some places it is attacked by dunes. And checkpoints. Closer to Tarfaya we get into a sandstorm – it is worse than a blizzard in the Arctic. Sand clogs everything in its reach
Fishermen’s huts stretch along the ocean
We reach Tarfaya, the westernmost city of Morocco and the southernmost point of our Morocco trip. Somewhere out there across just a hundred kilometers of ocean are the Canary Islands.
But it’s time for us to go back, time is coming to an end, in 2 days we leave Morocco, and while we can’t refuse ourselves in pleasure to get to the ocean on clumsy “Frenchman”, when he will
experience such sensations …Morocco. Notes from the Land of a Thousand and One Nights
The trash on the shore vividly demonstrates the power and capacity of the ocean to self-clean itself from the tons of trash produced by humans
A few days later, having made a final maneuver along the Algerian border to Zagora, we turned in our rented car and said goodbye to this mysterious and hospitable country, which left strange and contradictory emotions
Morocco. Notes from; Although.Morocco. Notes from the Land of a Thousand and One Nights
P.S. For 14 days of traveling in Morocco, we passed 4300 km with temperature differences from +4C to +32C and altitudes from 0m to 2600m. Deserts, mountains, ocean. The most part of interesting places is accessible on a light not four-wheel drive car. Only the north of the country, from Fez to Gibraltar,