A Travellerspoint blog

December 2017

Hogmanay

semi-overcast 18 °C
View Ouarzazate on IainT's travel map.

Red Eye

Red Eye

It’s Sunday, so it must be Casablanca.

Ouarzazate Departures

Ouarzazate Departures

That red eye flight went well - left early, arrived early and I was on the 8.23 train into the city centre. The dawn had started to appear as we crossed the High Atlas, but we were too early to see much down below.

Airport Shuttle

Airport Shuttle

I was in luck - is this an omen for 2018 - and the Novotel had a room for me at 10am.

Most of the rest of the day has been spent in that room. I have one of the viruses which are going around, so I’ve just rested up to give my body a chance to do its work. I don’t have that option tomorrow. My flight out of Casablanca (Paris then Edinburgh) leaves at 10.15.

Room - With View

Room - With View

I did go out for a walk mid afternoon and sat outside the Hassan II Mosque for a while people watching - what the average local does on a Sunday afternoon.

Hassan II Mosque

Hassan II Mosque

2017 was a year of highs and lows for me. This escape to North Africa has been one of the highs, for sure.

Dusk

Dusk

Thanks to all those who’ve visited my blogs this year.

Posted by IainT 12:24 Archived in Morocco Tagged morocco casablanca Comments (0)

Ouarzazate (Again)

sunny 20 °C
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Nice Pool & View

Nice Pool & View

I’m back in Ouarzazate now, after stage 1 of the journey home.

So far, so good. The rented Clio has now been returned and I’m checked into the local Ibis overnight. It will be a short stay. My flight tomorrow leaves at 6.55. I reckon I’ll be getting a taxi to pick me up at 5.15. It’s 5 minutes to the airport, which is right on the edge of town.

The Clio cost me 3,080 Dirhams (£280 or €300 approx) for 7 days from local company E.S.O.N. Maroc. They were fine, as was the car. It was quite new - 26,000km on the clock.

The Ibis is £21.75 (maybe €24) for the night (inclusive of breakfast), booked and paid for well in advance.

Ibis Ouarzazate

Ibis Ouarzazate

The day has been very uneventful. A slow, relaxing breakfast. Packing up and checking out. The 2.5 hour drive from Zagora to here. I’ll miss the excitement of avoiding the local road users, in all their shapes and forms.

That Pass

That Pass

It’s strange to be back in a European chain hotel again after a week in Moroccan places, even although it’s in Morocco and has been built in the local style.

Posted by IainT 12:39 Archived in Morocco Tagged morocco ouarzazate zagora Comments (0)

Riad Lamane

sunny 20 °C
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Today has been quite lazy. I’ll be driving back to Ouarzazate tomorrow, and then flying to Casablanca early on Sunday. On Monday it’s back to Scotland via Paris. Then I’ll be working all day on Tuesday. A lazy day today was definitely a good plan.

Pool

Pool

In the morning I did drive through town and out the other side to visit a museum recommended by one of my guidebooks. That was enjoyable. It's the Musée des Arts et Traditions de la Vallée du Drâa. Leaving aside the exhibits, it gives a real insight into what it's like inside a kasbah or ksar.

Museum

Museum

I had a sandwich lunch at the riad - outside again. I don’t know if Zagora is warmer than Ouarzazate or if has just got warmer generally, but it was over 20⁰c at lunchtime and feeling warmer than that in the sun.

I really forced myself to disconnect the batteries in the afternoon - reading and a nap.

My Room

My Room

I took a few shots of the Riad Lamane to remember it by - it’s very different to the one in Ouarzazate but just as enjoyable. The tent (photo below) is where we all had breakfast this morning (6⁰c).

Breakfast Room

Breakfast Room

Most people had 5 layers on and were still cuddling the coffee cups for warmth. I had a fleeting vision of a steaming bowl of porridge.

Like Le Petit Riad in Ouarzazate I’d recommend it to anyone.

I do add a health warning however. These places are built to try to keep people cool when it’s 40⁰c. When it’s cold here in December and January, they aren’t cozy at all. The heat in the rooms is just the airconditioning, which they turn up to the 30⁰ mark.

Riad Reception

Riad Reception

So like today, breakfast could be a touch uncomfortable but you can eat lunch outside!

The food was better at Le Petit Riad - but it really sells itself as a gourmet place. The food has been very good here, but not in the same class.

Posted by IainT 10:49 Archived in Morocco Tagged morocco zagora Comments (0)

M’Hamid

sunny 21 °C
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Sahara

Sahara

I drove further into the desert today (28-12) - as far as you can go without a 4x4 or a camel. The road comes to an end at M'hamid el Ghizlane, about 15 miles (24 km) from the (closed) border with Algeria.

M'hamid

M'hamid

Again the road was excellent, apart from one stretch of roadworks where the diversion was onto a rough piste.

Tizi-Beni-Selmane Pass

Tizi-Beni-Selmane Pass

I’m afraid the scenery was stunning again - sorry if this is getting repetitive! As well as flat, stony desert and mountainous, rocky desert, this area has sandy desert.

Tinfou

Tinfou

I didn’t hang about in M’Hamid. At the first cafe/restaurant coming into town, a local stood in front of me in the middle of the street to try to divert me into the cafe/restaurant. He had to jump...

I had two more similar experiences of aggressive sales techniques within 5 minutes, and decided they could keep their town.

I’ve had to deal with that kind of c*ap before in tourist hotspots like Marrakech, and even being ready with the “big smile but get lost” response, it still annoys me. It is damaging for their tourism industry. People on organised tours will be spared it of course, as they’re “spoken for”.

For balance, I had a nice gossip with the guys in the service station where I stopped to buy crisps and chocolate.

I stopped by the roadside to eat it a few minutes later, and quite quickly a local stopped to check if the car had broken down or got a puncture. Then we had a wee gossip and a laugh - about the old Scotland/England thing, oddly enough.

In a sense turning around at M’hamid meant the start of the road home. Ach well...

Road Home

Road Home

The journey doesn’t start properly until Saturday, with the drive back to Ouarzazate.

Posted by IainT 10:42 Archived in Morocco Tagged landscapes morocco zagora Comments (0)

Tizi-n-Tiniffift

sunny 19 °C
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That was quite a journey today.

The road from Ouarzazate to Zagora (about 100 miles end to end) crosses the Jbel Sahrho at the Tizi-n-Tiniffift Pass, the high point of the pass being at 1,660m (5,448 ft).

The Pass

The Pass

My Clio got a bit out of breath. My knees were shaking a bit.

Clio

Clio

The scenery was amazing yet again.

Amazing

Amazing

After dropping down the other side, the road then enters the Draa Valley at Agdz and follows it all the way to Zagora. The scenery is totally different - mile after mile of palm groves and villages following the river - and just as remarkable.

If you ever get the chance to come to this part of the world, grab it with both hands!

I was astonished at how good the road is - better than you’d find in Scotland. The pass just requires concentration and balls of steel. Traffic is light, so beyond that you just have to be careful with other road users.

Plenty service stations are to be found along the way, with toilets, food and so on. In fact I had my lunch at an Afriquia one today - “meat” tagine and Moroccan mint tea. I suspect the meat was mutton or lamb, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Anyway, I enjoyed it.

Lunch View

Lunch View

I’m a bit worried that my riad here in Zagora could be an anticlimax after the one in Ouarzazate being so fantastic, but so far so good.

Zagora

Zagora

Posted by IainT 14:03 Archived in Morocco Tagged mountains morocco ouarzazate zagora Comments (0)

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