Morocco – The Road Less Travelled!

There are a number of destinations in Morocco which require you to travel off-road in order to reach them.  We would spend the next 2 days of our tour crossing the desert, travelling on, what often appeared, to be nothing more than a vast stretch of land with the odd GPS marking.

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This particular area actually had a bit of a suggested path.

Our fabulous driver, Ahmed, expertly maneuvered our vehicle across roads ranging from crushed rock to mud flats to sand dunes, seemingly knowing where he was going!  At one point I asked him if he possessed an inner GPS to determine which path to take or which desert sand dune to select.

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I think Ahmed is saying, “I’ve got this covered”!

He assured me there were signs.  Perhaps he was referring to this one!

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After a few hours of driving, we found ourselves stopping in the middle of the desert for lunch.  Unbeknownst to us, our guide Driss & our driver Ahmed, had purchased supplies to prepare a wonderful lunch for us.

Feeling like we were on an episode of Survivor, the boys quickly went to work, making a fire, for out mint tea.

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Yet another example of these young men providing us with an incredible experience!

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Our view during lunch:)

As we took to the rocky roads once again, one of the funniest moments of our trip occurred.

All of a sudden, from the very back of the vehicle, Zara, one of our travel mates,  screamed out , “STOP THE CAR!”  Ahmed hit the breaks, alarmed that something was terribly wrong, only to realise, much to his relief, that Zara merely wanted to stop to take a picture.

Apologizing to Ahmed that she had had a sudden lapse in memory, mistaking him for her husband, she then went on to explain that if he was going to get married one day, he had better get used to getting yelled at, especially when it came to directions.  Driss interpreted to Ahmed what Zara had just said, sending both of the boys into hysterical laughter.

For the next several kilometers, we laughed until our sides hurt.  Ahmed kept Zara in view through the rearview mirror just in case she decided he needed to pull over once again.  A young man who catches on very quickly!

It was just after that fit of laughter the following pictures were taken, a few of my very favourites from this adventure.  They capture the pure joy of this experience, the meeting of old friends & new.

Every time I look at Driss & Ahmed in these shots, I feel a sense of gratitude for having met them & for having such a fabulous group of gals to travel with.

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When travelling off-road through the desert in Morocco, every once in awhile you pass a remote guest house like this lovely one we spent the night in just outside of Ramlia.  A welcome reprieve from all of our driving.

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Aghbalou Ramlia Guest House

Feeling refreshed after a great meal, a shower to wash away all of the dust, & a good night’s sleep, the next morning we continued our journey across the desert.

Weaving our way through sand dunes & mudflats, Driss explained that this particular part of the journey has been used as part of  some races across the desert, & is known to be one of the most difficult legs of the race.

It was unbelievable to us that people use this path as a means of getting from one place to another, as there appears to be no roads at all.  Only the tracks of your tires are seen as you pass through the area, quickly filled in by blowing sand.

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Here are a couple of the races Driss spoke about if you are interested in signing up!  One is called the Paris Dakar & the other, which is just for women, is called the Aicha des gazzille.

After a few hours of feeling like we were on a rollercoaster ride, we were grateful when we finally hit pavement!

Our next stop would take us to Ahmed’s family home, where we had been invited for lunch.  Like Driss, when the rare opportunity is presented to visit home, the welcome mat is extended to, not only family, but any visitors that happen to be along for the ride!

Meeting Ahmed’s family was like stepping into one big boisterous family reunion.  As we pulled up, we were embraced with an energy & excitement that never stopped the whole time we were visiting.

Enthusiastic conversation & laughter lives in this house.  As many as 19 people share this home, crossing 4 generations, including Ahmed’s 100 year old grandfather.  Perhaps it is the wonderful energy in this home that keeps him going!

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Ahmed with his parents

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Ahmed with his father & grandfather

From the first moment I met Ahmed, I sensed he possessed a big personality.  I am not certain if it was the glint in his eye or his mischievous grin, but despite the fact that we didn’t speak the same language, it didn’t take us long to figure out this young man possessed a wonderful sense of humour & a very big personality.  After spending some time with his family, it was evident to us where he inherited those effervescent genes from!

Like Driss, I am so grateful to have met Ahmed.  Both of them will forever leave an imprint in my heart.

Hugs,

L

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26 Responses to Morocco – The Road Less Travelled!

  1. Sue Slaght says:

    Love reading about this adventure Lynn! The lunch photo and the jumping ones are my top picks. Your trip to Morrocco intrigued me and definitely brought into the list of future considerations.

    • Lynn says:

      The lunch was such a lovely surprise Sue. The boys were so sweet in that they insisted that we just relax on the blanket they had set out while they worked away at preparing the fire & food. They had even purchased a small metal teapot & glass for our mint tea. No Moroccan meal is complete without it!

  2. You have a very amazing site here..tried to comment and Like the picture of your dog but my site is doing odd things…this is the only essay it’s allowed me to comment on. Also liked the Robin Williams piece your friend wrote. Thank you for reading athingirl once in a while. It’s very appreciated.

  3. LB says:

    Lynn, I’m so glad you came to my blog this morning, as it led me to yours. We have a similar style of storytelling the journey and I loved reading about this one.
    What a joy it must have been!

    • Lynn says:

      Welcome LB & thanks for dropping by! Morocco was a very different experience for us as this was the first time we used a tour company. Usually we develop & book our own itinerary but due to the difference in culture & the fact that we are 4 women travelling on our own, we sourced out Rough Tours. A great decision!

      Our guide & driver provided us with such a wonderful experience, introducing us to their families & going above & beyond our expectations in so many regards.

      I have written a few posts about this trip if you are interested in reading further. You can find them under the Wanderlust tab, Most have Morocco in front of the title with the exception of the one called “Lasting Impressions – A Man Named Driss.

      Again, thanks for reading! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  4. joannesisco says:

    I love these stories about your trip to Morocco. It makes me want to go there … and the importance of having a knowledgeable local get you around.
    The trip through the desert would definitely be a bit scary for me. I have this unreasonable fear of being lost and this sounds like the type of place where you never really know where exactly you are!
    I love the picture of the 3 generations! I’m sure it is treasured by him and his family 🙂

    • Lynn says:

      I so appreciate that Joanne! I sometimes feel like I should stop writing about it but this trip contained so many memorable moments. Travelling in the desert was interesting, 2 days in the middle of nowhere! Ahmed seemed to know exactly where he was which gave us comfort…that & the fact that he checked our water supply before heading out!

      I love the picture of Ahmed with his grandfather, you can see the love he has for the man in his eyes. When we got home, I printed a number of the pictures for the boys & mailed copies to them & their families to have. I am sure they have them proudly displayed in their homes:)

  5. restlessjo says:

    Some of that ‘scenery’ looks bleak, Lynn, but I love your lunch time view. And you met the nicest people. 🙂

    • Lynn says:

      Yes Jo, we all agreed, while Morocco wasn’t necessarily the most picturesque place we have travelled, the opportunity to develop a better understanding of the culture, combined with the wonderful people we met along this journey, was truly an unforgettable experience!

  6. WordPress, I’m sure on my end, didn’t take its meds. Can’t leave messages on all your posts…well, I do enjoy your writing and will make it a point to visit you too. I don’t read a lot of people…Kate, Top Down, Mick when he used to write. David of Korea who is now here in the states. Skinny, Patricia. i just have no time, so I choose wisely and you is goin on my list. It’s not that I’m such a blog snob, I just spend all my time writing, working, and worrying. The 3 Ws.
    No wonder I’m sick. Love your doggie 🙂

  7. I enjoyed very much reading your desert adventure, Lynn! I had absolutely no idea a women-only off-road rally exists. It would be nice to visit Morocco one day. Would you recommend it to a family with a 5-yeard old?

    • Lynn says:

      Thank you so much Vasilis! It was a very different trip from anything we have done before. I am not certain I would recommend it for a 5 year old. So much of what we enjoyed about this destination was the interaction with our guides & their families, communicating with them & gaining a better understanding of their culture.

      Our tour was a 15 day tour, covering a lot of mileage, thus spending a great deal of time in the vehicle, not something that would be exciting to a child. If you were to go to Morocco with a child, I would suggest discussing options with the tour company. (Roughtours is happy to tailor to your needs)

      My other concern would be medical attention. Standards are very different than what we are accustomed to so that would be a consideration. There are many parts of Morocco that are littered with garbage, something that came as a surprise to us as Canadians. There are certainly parts of the country where this is not the case, areas that might be more conducive to travel with a child.

      We did see people travelling with small children, when we were there. I just don’t think it would be a destination I would have considered myself when I had small children.

      • It seems to me that you had the chance to experience the “real” Morocco. You are very lucky. I would have loved to do a similar tour, but we first have to wait for our daughter to get a little older, so that she herself knows how to appreciate all the different aspects of such an adventure. Right now, she enjoys the sea and the hotel pools more than anything else. So we are stuck to beach resorts, for a while. Which is not a very bad option either 🙂
        They do sell packages including direct flights from Helsinki to Morocco, but the hotels are mostly located in Agadir, which is a beach resort. Did you visit Agadir, while you were in Morocco? I have heard that it is quite touristic.

      • Lynn says:

        Vasilis, we did not visit Agadir, however we did visit Essaouira which is along the coast just to the north of Agadir.

        It is definitely known as the area where a number of people go to vacation in Morocco. My understanding from talking to our guide, is that Agadir is quite lovely & many people go there as it has a number of nice resorts to visit. It might be a good spot for you to visit, based on the age of your daughter & her likes while she is younger.

        I am certain you could arrange going to Marrakech from there. I am guessing it would be a days drive.

        If you were interested in visiting the desert, you could inquire if they could put together a 2 to 3 day tour for you incorporating what you might like to see in addition to your resort stay in Agadir. The area in the desert we visited would be an ambitious drive in that amount of time but there may be other parts of the desert closer to Adadir that you could visit.

        I encourage you to ask Youssef at Rough Tours what he might recommend. He is very good with responding and there is no pressure to book anything.

  8. Lynn, thank you for following my blog and letting me discover yours! Morocco seems to be our point to connect 🙂 I’m going to discover your posts now. Enjoy it there!

    • Lynn says:

      My pleasure Elena! Morocco was an incredible experience for us. If you are interested, I think I have written 5 posts about our adventure. You can find them all under the Wanderlust tab on my home page. Thank you so much for visiting!

  9. Hello. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post on Morocco (the photographs are gorgeous), I wanted to inform you that following the decapitation of French national, Hervé Gourdel, two days ago in neighbouring Algeria, Morocco is now on the British and French Embassy lists as a dangerous country to visit.

    I live in Paris. Here’s my blog link – julietinparis.wordpress.com

    Summary
    Still current at: 26 September 2014
    Updated: 21 July 2014
    Latest update: Summary – increased threat of terrorism
    There is a general threat from terrorism. The Moroccan authorities have warned of an increased threat linked to the number of Moroccans belonging to international terrorist organisations operating in Syria and Iraq. See Terrorism
    There have been some demonstrations in various locations across the country.
    Morocco has a poor road safety record.
    If you’re travelling to Western Sahara, you should read our travel advice for this disputed territory.

    • Lynn says:

      Thank you for your visit & your lovely comments on the photos. It was a remarkable adventure for us.

      I would like to address your comment in regards to the travel advisory you mentioned. When considering travel, it is always prudent to ensure you travel safely to the best of your ability. Period.

      I would like to state, for the record, that the particular incident you speak of, was committed in Algeria, not Morocco.

      The heinous crimes committed against Herve Gourdel & others, are a horrible act of ISIS extremists. There are no words for the monsters who commit such crimes.

      We must never allow a group of extremists to shape our view of a people or faith as a whole.

      Our experience with the people of Morocco was one of genuine hospitality. Our guides were wonderful young men, inviting us to ask any questions we had about the country, the culture, & their politics. We openly discussed many of our differences, respecting each others views & in the process, gaining a better understanding of both of our cultures.

      Families warmly welcomed us into their homes, inviting us to share a meal, introducing us to their family members & sharing their experiences & their stories. It was no different than being invited into a home here in Canada, extending welcome & friendship.

      The Moroccan people are a peaceful people, raising their families to do the same. Their muslim faith is not one of violence, in fact, it is the complete opposite.

      We met some wonderful people on our trip, many I would call friends & invite into my home without hesitation.

      Again, I would recommend anyone considering travel, especially to remote areas, to educate yourself & to seek reputable sites about travel advisories. Regardless of what your destination of choice is, it is always prudent to do your homework!

  10. I love your jumping photos! The person in blue reminds me of the Genie from Aladdin! Enjoyed reading about your adventures in Morocco. We went there in 2012, but didn’t venture out of Marrakech city.

    • Lynn says:

      Haha, thanks Bee! The Genie is Driss, our guide, wearing his traditional Berber attire.

      Our trip to Morocco was a great experience & one we won’t soon forget. We spent our last few days in Marrakech, which I have yet to write about. I would have to say that although it is a fascinating city, it was definitely not our favourite part of our journey. Quite honestly, we found it exhausting!

      I so appreciate you reading & for taking the time to leave a comment.

  11. Some great shots here. Years ago I went across the Sahara through Algeria and onto Niger and Mali. One of these days i might be able to turn some of those slides into digital files and share them on a blog. Maybe. I know what you mean by no roads, our trip had very little in terms of roads, just tyre tracks weaving in and out. Somehow the drivers found their way. Louise

    • Lynn says:

      We had such an amazing experience in Morocco. Our guides were fantastic & very tolerant of having 4 women to travel with for 3 weeks. SO.MUCH.FUN!

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