[KASBAH TAMADOT, MOROCCO] — Pulling out of the crazy busy dark corners of Medina of Marrakesh, the sky suddenly opens up. Endless palm trees paint the sky like clouds. Vast estates with long pink mud walls line the highway for miles. And that’s when you first see them, the Atlas Mountains, snow capped even in the 80 degree spring heat. Beckoning from a distance to come up to the cool crisp air. Soon the road thins out, the estates give way to small hamlets, dirt orange mud-walled buildings stacked like books up the hills. Traveling fast in the air-conditioned wifi-enabled van, I spy an old man on a donkey pulling livestock like it was a Christmas Card, which is kinda jarring when you’re in a
Here’s a quiet little video summary I made of a fabulous two week trip in Morocco in April 2015. I tried to capture the sights, sounds and incomparable experiences of all of Morocco. Marrakesh, the High Atlas Mountains, the desert oasis of Skoura and camping in the Sahara. If you want more detailed information of all the sights in this video, check out the Morocco page on my website. Lots of great pictures, information, maps and links to other resources to help you plan your trip. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below.
[THE SAHARA, MOROCCO] — I was sitting there polishing off my second Negroni — a Negroni in the frickin’ Sahara — watching the blazing sun rapidly sink over the darkening horizon when here comes Ahmed, barreling over the lip of the nearest dune, in bare feet (!). Huffing, he says “Monsieur Dan, we have one more surprise for you tonight. Please come. Oh, bring your camera.” As if I needed more surprises that day. We follow a path along the dune ridges, lanterns illuminating the way. We top the lip of the ridge and I shriek like a little girl. Ahmed giggles with excitement. We’re peering down over a mini-amphitheater of dunes — I didn’t even know this was here — and lining the huge bowl below us is
[SKOURA, MOROCCO] — “Welcome to Dar Ahlam. Our goal is to redefine the hotel experience. There is no Reception. No restaurant. No keys. No hours. No menus. No itinerary. Just surprises. When you are hungry, just show up at any time and we will take you to a different place we’ve arranged for you.” And that is how it started. And that’s how I was introduced by “Flo” (Florent) who runs the very remote and very exclusive Dar Ahlam kasbah in the oasis town of Skoura, in southern Morocco. Okay, this trip….ummmm, I really splashed out on…because it is the Sahara and what better place to go all-in? And Abercrombie & Kent is the one to go with, they arranged everything, from pickup at the airport
[HIGH ATLAS MOUNTAINS, MOROCCO] — I didn’t know there’d be a donkey involved. Actually, I didn’t really know what all would be involved. But there he was, on a foot bridge spanning a roaring river. Staring at me like “Really?”. It would be hard to be a donkey, actually. Getting all the shit jobs that man doesn’t want to do, in this case, carrying my pack and our lunch for the day. And the flies. Man, the flies. A constant swarm of pesky varmints, always, poking your eyes, biting your knees, and just all-around being annoying. 24/7. I hate flies and if I was a donkey, I’d really hate flies. A constant shake of the head to shake them away. My tail in continuous motion to
[MARRAKESH, MOROCCO] — It is the drums that get you first. A full-frontal, heart-fibrillating pounding of Berber rhythms. So intense and staccato-firing that Buddy Rich would have a hard time keeping up. And the flutes. The ear-piercing, high pitched whine of the flutes, constant, taunting cobras to dance on the hot stones. And the people. The rush of endless people. Of every shape, size, color, religion, sunburn, clothing, shape, shoe-type/non-shoe-wearing. And the breeze. A steady wave of warm air that makes the palms, the long robes, the billowing smoke from the merguez grilling in the food stalls all harmonized and flowing like caught in the same current of a river. “Heeeeyyyyyy” he says in an eerily friendly Americanized accent, scaring me from behind. I jumped.
[MARRAKESH, MOROCCO] — It was midnight on a full moon in Marrakesh. A late flight from Barcelona after transferring from Casablanca. The driver pulls over on a very busy, unremarkable street, next to a gas station, an LP gas depot and about the world’s most frenetic bus stop and taxi stand, drivers wailing and waving, engines gunning. Everyone looked to be in charge. Buses, trucks and loud scooters screamed by, drowning out the shouts of the cab stand. The van stopped in the middle of the street and the door swung open. A nondescript wood door lay before me; no sign, no grand entrance, just two guys in muted brown tunics. “This is it?” I asked. “It’s Marrakesh, there’s always a surprise behind the doors.
[MARRAKESH, MOROCCO] — The sun had set. The sky dimming a deep purple. Reflections on a giant dark pool shimmered back the endless repetitive patterns of grand columns across the water — embracing my pattern-OCD like a bear hug. A handful of people relaxed on pillows strewn about a manicured lawn, sipping cocktails amidst the growing light of the dozens of lanterns lit just so. Silently, five men in long robes and headscarves sat down in low chairs at the water’s edge. And then it started. A gentle bass drum, lithe strings join in, picking up the pace as a percussion resonated against all the giant stone walls surrounding the lagoon. Not loud, on the contrary, it sounded like being in a recording studio, with a growing crescendo of