Category Archives: Morocco 2014

Our 16 day backpacking tour around Morocco.

Morocco: Marrakech

Marrakesh
Marrakech or Marrakesh is interesting to say the least. I wanted to show you this image above first because as you can see the roads are polished and modern, getting off the mini van you feel like you have stepped onto a street in Los Angeles, forgetting you are in a beautiful African country. This is probably a great way to end the adventure tour, after so much trekking and being surrounded by the hubbub of rural markets along dusty roads or simple villages in the remoteness of the mountains. I think ending the trip in a contemporary place allows the traveler to reflect back on the awesome holiday as a whole and it also makes you really appreciate certain comforts that us westerners take for granted. For example, all through this tour our group found it difficult to have to endure cold showers almost every day due to there being not enough hot water and yes we did jokingly moan about it but looking at the bigger picture you realize that not always having hot water to bathe in may be a reality to some Moroccans and other parts of the world, in fact it didn’t bother me so much largely because I came from a poor family where my mum couldn’t always afford hot water, I learned to wash with cold water in a sink and with a sponge.

So although Morocco is developing fast and it is really up and coming, it’s still a real eye opener and culture shock to not have hot running water readily available in certain places we traveled to and it’s something us Westerners probably take for granted too. Or perhaps there is no central heating in the hotel you are staying at and you need ten thick blankets to keep warm due to your delicate western body being unable handle the cold nights because it is so used to radiators. It’s times like that, that you look back on and smile, it makes you appreciate a culture so different from your own and as a human being you learn a hell of a lot about yourself and how you adapt to not getting everything you want, and how others thrive in societies you may consider beautifully strange.

You don’t see the culture shock when you first arrive in Marrakech, it’s very modern, and has all the mod cons. It isn’t until you visit the main square you think to yourself “Ah Ha! This is the Morocco I know!” Marrakesh is like two worlds encased in one. As you walk to the main square you are surrounded by sophisticated shops and cafes and sleek pavements & roads and then suddenly you step into the noise and eccentricities of the main market. This was our last two & a half days in Morocco before we said our farewells to the group of 16 people who had become a little family to us. These last couple of days involved a short tour around the souk and mainly pottering about, eating lots of food at the food court, bartering for gifts and enjoying the odd street performances.

Marrakech tours

Intrepid travel

Marrakech main square

Marrakech Medina

Things to do in Marrakesh

Things to do in Morocco
Marrakesh is a true “year round” destination. Spring and autumn sees the city at its best with almost guaranteed sunshine and bearable temperatures (days are warm and nights are not too chilly). At the height of summer, daytime temperatures can reach a sweltering 38C and shops and restaurants often close during Ramadan and in August. Winter can be warm and blissfully free of crowds – but remember that temperatures drop dramatically at night, it really does get a little chilly during the evenings so I would suggest taking a shawl, cardigan or light jacket.

Marrakesh Jewellery and shops

the food court at night in Marrakesh

Marrakesh food court

Yummy food in Morocco
The Medina of Marrakech is like a shopping heaven, so many wonderful stalls and a diverse range of goods from leather bound books to plastic singing camels. Some delightful finds of Berber silver and gorgeous tribal jewellery of every colour imaginable are sold here. I purchased a stunning Berber bracelet (with much bartering & laughter involved) and Jon bought himself a couple of hand made woollen hats for next to nothing. In all of Morocco you need to be up for bartering for “Best price” otherwise you will be over charged, however please be reasonable, shop owners still need to make a living & support their families, so don’t be stingy! The Medina itself is busy and loud and you have to have your wits about you. However I felt safe, but found spending too long there a little exhausting, especially in the heat and I did end up with slight heat stroke, luckily Peace, a lady from our group is a trained nurse and had Electrolyte tablets in her bag, within an hour of taking them plus some rest I was feeling great and headed back into the Medina. Electrolytes are definitely a first aid must for my next adventure trip!

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Within the Medina and food court people do pester you for money or to sit at their table and eat their amazing cuisine so be prepared for that and don’t be persuaded into a shop or food stall if you didn’t want to be there in the first place. I must say though that the street food is incredible and extremely cheap so go by what you want and not what the seller is telling you what you should have! Out in the main square, after viewing some spectacular jewellery with me, Jon decided he wanted to be involved in handling a snake alongside the snake charmer coaxing a cobra to move with the sounds, I was pretty impressed with Jon’s courage, after all that cobra in front of him is poisonous! This is something I am usually up for however since I have already handled snakes before, I let Jon have this one. In regards to street performers, do enjoy watching them but unless you are willing to pay for glancing over at what they are doing then perhaps try to learn how to watch out of the corner of your eye. These street performers are persistent and can be rude to make you part with money. Be wary of the men with monkey’s on chains, they will approach you wanting a seemingly innocent hand shake, but this is a ploy to make the monkey crawl up your arm and sit on your shoulder. To get the monkey off, you have to pay. Be quick when taking photos so the performers don’t see, otherwise they will hound you for money. This all doesn’t sound pleasant however you do have to realise this is how they make money to support their families so try to be understanding and fair. If you want to stand and watch a street performer then be nice and give them some of your loose change. One performance we saw that blew my mind and made me laugh out loud involved a man bopping up and down to some music with a rabbit and chicken on his head unfortunately because it was dark by then we do not have any decent photos of this man, he exists now only in our memories.

Authentic Berber Jewellery

Beautiful Berber Jewellery

Berber jewellery

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street performers in Marrakesh

snake charmer in Marrakesh

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Be careful when walking through the Medina, there will be men lurking about attempting to talk to tourists who look like easy targets or who appear lost. These men will try to coax you to follow them so they can show you the Marrakesh tanneries. If you have already seen the Fes tanneries then you will be less tempted to follow. Be warned these men will take you through a maze of back streets until you are completely lost, they will take you to some tanneries which arn’t that great but in order to get out and back into the Medina they will aggressively demand money to guide you back. These men did approach Jon & I but we were already warned of this scam and paid no attention to them. To be savvy with some other scams widely used in Marrakesh main square and the Medina click here. I think over all it was a wise idea to have our group visit Marrakech last, not just for it’s modernity & easy access to most things but also after visiting numerous places in Morocco that gave us a bit of a culture awakening and awareness it provided us with the skills and knowledge to handle certain negative traits that come with Morocco, if you have your wits about you and you have researched the culture of any country in the world then you will be prepared & responsible and therefore will not be an easy target or fall into a horrendous scam trap. By this point in the trip we had a pretty rough idea on ‘how to blend in a bit more like a local’ or how to avoid certain things and how to say the right thing in a specific situation. I know that if I ever go back to Morocco I’d be pretty equipped to travel there without the aid of a tour guide or group and I’m pretty impressed with my new found knowledge of the Moroccan culture; the good & the bad and the beautiful (I just fell in love with the Berber culture which is very different to the Arab way of life.)

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At night the main square is stunning and so much is going on! If you decide to holiday in Morocco you can opt to base yourself in Marrakech as there is plenty to do and see within the Medina and main square, food is readily available as are other necessities plus most hotels offer day excursions to Essaouira and even camel trekking in the Sahara Desert. I do have plans to go back but in the form of a retreat holiday with my best friend. This retreat is called ‘Desert Dance Healing‘ and involves a pit stop in Marrakech before heading out to the desert for some Yoga, Belly Dance, Camel Trekking, travelling through the Atlas Mountains, Meditation and much more.

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This amazing 16 day adventure around Morocco has really ignited my spirit, I came back to the UK full of electric energy to just follow my path and have the confidence to make changes I desperately needed, I am a much happier person because of this trip. It’s people, it’s colours & culture and it’s architecture took my breath away. Our tour group has to be the best bunch of people I have ever met and I am sure if I ever go on a tour again it won’t compare. Usually in a group, there are some you just clash with; although I didn’t get to know some of group members as much as I’d like, I will say in general there was a beautiful friendly and positive vibe being shared by everyone, there wasn’t one person I disliked and we became good friends. I have kept in touch with some of them and sadly a few disappeared but who knows, maybe I will meet them on a beach in Bali or on a street in Japan one day?
And so this blog post concludes our Moroccan adventure!

I also just want to give a shout out to Intrepid Travel, this company is awesome and they offer so many incredible adventures around the world. And also to our wonderful tour guide Yahya, check him out here: Lets explore Morocco
Here are all the previous destinations we ventured to on this 16 day adventure tour:
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes
Day Four/Afternoon in Volubilis
Day Five: Fes
Day Six: Midelt
Day Seven in Sahara Desert
Days Eight & Nine in Todra Gorge
Day Ten in Ait Benhaddou
Day Eleven in Aroumd/Ifrane
Days Twelve & Thirteen in Essaouira
Days Fourteen & Fifteen in Marrakesh
We flew back to the UK, midday of day sixteen.

I am also on TripAdvisor, find me here.

Morocco: Essaouira

Essaouira
Essaouira is up and coming, it is becoming the creative and bohemian hub of Morocco. If you liken Marrakesh to London, then Essaouira is like Bristol or Liverpool. Over the years many ‘foreigners’ have been buying & renovating beautiful town houses here which is great for the economy but not so great for locals since outsiders are getting rid of that crumbling charm of the exterior buildings in order to modernize and suit their own needs. Moroccans strongly believe in community & in being humble. The whole reason as to why the exterior buildings look as though they are about to collapse is to show all men & women are equal, nobody knows who is wealthy or who is struggling until you step inside their home. Moroccans; unlike us in the West, do not like to gloat about who has the most expensive car and who can afford a deluxe designer kitchen because doing that encourages segregation and a weak sense community. Another practice that I love about Moroccans is that local bakeries and store owners always put the poor first, giving them the bigger and fresher pieces of bread because they know full well that whereas the wealthier person can afford bread every day, the individual who is struggling may have to make their loaf of bread last a week. There is a real sense of community here in Morocco in that they do try to look after those who are less fortunate. In the West our community enjoys pointing the finger and offering little or no support, needless to say I prefer the Moroccan community to the West.

visit Essaouira

surfers capital in Morocco

places to visit in Morocco

Moroccan culture
Essaouira is a beautiful bohemian city full of artists and new age hippies living a laid back way of life. Close to the sea and being windy almost all year round it is a hot spot for surfers and water sport addicts around the globe.
A number of arts, dance and music festivals are held here and there are numerous shops and quaint cafes full of arty flare. Essaouira is also rich in colour with its striking sky blue and white wash tones, it is probably one of the most photographed cities in Morocco. If you pick up a leaflet advertising a Moroccan holiday you can be sure to see pictures of the bright blue boats from Essaouira’s harbor or of it’s golden walls covered in richly toned carpets and boldly printed tapestries. If you are based in Marrakesh (which most travelers usually are when visiting Morocco) You can arrange a day trip from Marrakesh to visit Essaouira and I strongly recommend you do simply to experience that artsy, bohemian way of life and maybe catch a few waves in the surf or enjoy a stroll on the beach. This is a year-round sporty & arty lifestyle catering for windsurfers, golfers, horse riding enthusiasts, Yoga lovers and art buffs. The combination of lingering French sophistication from the days of the protectorate, the flavours of the hot African south, the geometric Arab designs coupled with the romance of the nomadic Berber tribes make it an irresistible visit.

great surf destination in Morocco

Intrepid Travel

tour around Essaouira

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Our group spent two days here to just relax and potter about the market place. It was such a welcome rest for me that I ended up missing a trip to a Hamam (which is a local bath house that offer body massage) because I literally fell into a deep sleep in our hotel room and didn’t wake up until later in the evening. I am never usually a deep sleeper, I can be easily woken, I jump out of bed in the mornings and I cat nap. Jon couldn’t wake me this time, I was in such a sleepy haze I do vaguely remember Jon trying to coax me awake to enjoy a massage at the Hamam which is something that would usually tempt me but my body was exhausted. Later one of the women in our group told me it was a good thing I missed going to the Hamam, this particular one was over crowded, noisy and the massage was pretty rough. Being someone of a gentle disposition and becomes a panicky shrinking violet in over crowded places I am glad I didn’t go in the end as I am pretty sure I’d have ended up having a panic attack. Not all Hamans are like that though and I have experienced something similar in Turkey so I do highly recommend you experience it too as it is part of the Moroccan culture and it would be a lovely treat for yourself after a long trek or hours surfing the waves.

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Out of all the accommodations we stayed in during our tour, the hotel we stayed at in Essaouira was by far my favourite, with the villa in Midelt coming a close second. I adored our room and the interior design of the hallways. The owners of this place really devoted a lot of time and love into collecting exquisite art work, hand carved wooden statues, bold rugs & furnishings that really made the artistic side to me feel at home. A book nook had also been created with a small library and seat where you can curl up, drink mint tea and read the classics like Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare whilst pondering the meaning of life.

Our group was encouraged to find a local cafe that makes hot chocolate that is literally just melted chocolate and even a small cup is hard to stomach but well worth the chance to have a taste. I am a chocolate lover and so I wasn’t going to pass on this opportunity! The hot chocolate was just as described, it is thick melted chocolate but so yummy and soothing however it did become too sickly for me to finish!

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Although Essaouira is a beautiful and relaxing coastal city plus our accommodation was so pretty, it wasn’t my favourite place we visited. What made it one of my least favourite places was it’s weather. The weather is great if you are surfer but not so great when you don’t particularly enjoy eating your hair and being caked in sand whilst trying to enjoy walking around the markets. Windy is an understatement in Essaouira, this place is blustery nearly all year round and it doesn’t calm down at night and unless you have a quick wash in the evening you will wake up with sand and grit in your bed. I personally can not stand the wind, I like rain, I can tolerate heavy rain, I can tolerate freezing but calm weather but windy days and gale force winds give me a headache and make me miserable because it really does make me want to shout “Stop it!” at this invisible, annoying entity. However I am glad I did get to visit this place as it was a completely different environment to where we were the previous day, staying with a family in the high atlas mountains. Morocco really is like a bag of dolly mixture sweets, you might be staying in a desert one day and the next in a colourful city then onwards to the heavenly magnificence of the mountains.
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OK guys, so this is it, my last ever Moroccan blog post is coming up next week. Our last destination in the tour was two days in Marrakesh. Stay tuned for the grand finale!
Missed previous Moroccan posts from our 16 day tour? Click on the links below!
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes
Day Four/Afternoon in Volubilis
Day Five: Fes
Day Six: Midelt
Day Seven in Sahara Desert
Days Eight & Nine in Todra Gorge
Day Ten in Ait Benhaddou
Day Eleven in Aroumd/Ifrane

I am also on TripAdvisor, find me here.

Morocco: Aroumd

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Soon after Ait Benhaddou we headed to Aroumd, a village in the High Atlas mountains. Aroumd (also called Armed or Aremd) is the largest village of the Mizane Valley, an extraordinary looking place, built on a huge moraine spur above the valley at 1840m. We were to stay over night with a lovely local family who welcomed us all with open arms. You will find if you ever visit Morocco, the people there are exceedingly accommodating & friendly, always wanting to enjoy a good conversation with you over tea or encourage you to dance & sing by a roaring fire.

After numerous hours driving through the valley & up the mountain pass, the dusty white hairpin bends are becoming so tight that the hard-worked mini van, unable to make them in one, negotiates a series of death-defying turns, leaving us at times driving so close to the very edge of a precipice, with only a handbrake between us and a 1000-foot drop and a breathtaking view down the valley. Our driver is the Bees Knees! To the south, a dizzy view of interlocking spurs, and to the north, a spread of horizontal terraces and rooftops. Here is the village of Aremd, 8000 feet high, overlooked by jagged ridges and wedged in the cragged mountains. The silence of the mountains is both eerie and magical.

Our mini van couldn’t take us to where we were to stay so we trekked for about 45 minutes up & around parts of the mountain side, taking in the incredible views as the sun was slowly setting and enjoyed our brisk walk. I mentioned in the previous blog post that at this point of the tour my body was getting tired and now it was showing signs of being a bit poorly. If like me your immune system isn’t great, I’d suggest taking multi-vitamins or Berocca and maybe probiotics too. My body creates a lot of nervous energy, my nervous system is usually on full power but it never knows what to do with the stress and adrenaline so I get fatigued and poorly quite fast on the positive side to that I have reasonably fast metabolism which helps maintain my slim figure. Although another favourite place during our time in Morocco, I was getting weak and craved some quiet time with herbal tea, PJ’S and a good book. I actually did get that whilst in Aroumd which was a welcome relief.

Aremd

Aroumd

high atlas mountains

Atlas mountains Morocco

things to do in Aremd

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Aroumd is a beautiful, quiet and traditional Berber village. A photogapher’s and backpackers dream you feel like you are far away from modern, technological cities and closer to the heavens. Perched on a rocky outcrop, remote Aroumd offers stunning views, in my opinion this place probably one of the most beautiful places in Morocco. The high altitude village of Aremd (1907m) is the ideal location for passing a few days in the “clean air” of the mountains in the Toubkal region. This is an all year mountain resort offering: trekking, climbing, mountain biking, ski mountaineering and much more.. Over 7 km of concrete has been placed, giving a clean and secure sanity system for everybody in the village. These projects have been funded by the dynamic local village association and the local governments help. 100% of the population has running water and electricity, 80% have television and 20 % have a telephone in their house, thank you Maroc Telecom. 2 camping sites, 4 gites/ hotels, restaurants, shopping and guiding services can be found in the village.

things to do in Morocco

where to visit in Morocco

Intrepid tours

the best of Morocco intrepid

amazing views in Ifrane

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I loved the little girls from the family we stayed with, both of them were adorable, full of cheeky energy and confident playfulness. They wanted to interact with everybody. Hadija the eldest kept asking me to swing her round and round until we both got dizzy, she also played with my hair and told me it was pretty. Chayma the youngest looked like a doll and was constantly giggling and following after her sister. I adored every moment with them and just like the children I met in Midelt, my heart wanted to stay.

The moment our group were settled into our rooms it wasn’t long before a delicious meal of couscous and tagine was served, “Tagine” is the name of the food and also the conical earthenware pot it comes in. Moroccan tajine dishes are slow-cooked savoury stews, typically made with sliced meat, poultry, or fish together with vegetables or fruit. Spices, nuts, and dried fruits are also used. Common spices include ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron. Paprika and chilli are used in vegetable tajine. The sweet and sour combination is common in tajine dishes like lamb with dates and spices. Tajines are generally served with bread. Because the domed or cone-shaped lid of the tajine pot traps steam and returns the condensed liquid to the pot, a minimal amount of water is needed to cook meats and vegetables.

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In the early hours of the next morning Jon opted to go on a walk just before sunrise to explore the surrounding land. I opted to sleep in a few extra hours knowing it would calm my body and give me some much needed quiet time. I loved every moment of being in the tour group but I needed some alone time to regain balance again. It was a lovely clear morning and I stepped outside the house to just be with the mountains on the balcony. Sometimes we human beings just don’t know how or when to stop, I mean truly stand still and take in every beautiful moment. It sounds crazy but do you ever talk to nature? I do, I actually say hello to plants and flowers and tell them they are ‘a Bonnie soul’, sometimes I lift my hands to the sky and mentally say ‘hello’ to mountains, big trees, the sky & the stars. Doing that is extremely liberating, I recommend you try it, it’s good for the soul. Walking back into the house, Peace and Yahya our tour guide were sat looking at photos on a laptop and I joined them, soon after Hadija and Chayma were up, dressed & wanting to be involved with what the adults were doing. I loved this moment. A few hours later the rest of our group returned and lunch was being prepared.

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It wasn’t long before we had to say goodbye to the beautiful family in Aroumd, I am going to miss those girls! I even received some advice from the father of the family (I have forgotten his name, apologies!) I mentioned I was shy and he said “Do not be shy, my girls are not shy, they are confident and will grow up to be strong young women, be confident!” I think I will take that advice and apply it to my life, I will be like those beautiful little girls. It was sad to leave this family and this place. This is another destination I would go back to in a heartbeat!
Only a couple more Moroccan Posts to write! Next up our two days in Essaouira! Stay Tuned!

If you missed previous Moroccan adventures click on the links below!
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes
Day Four/Afternoon in Volubilis
Day Five: Fes
Day Six: Midelt
Day Seven in Sahara Desert
Days Eight & Nine in Todra Gorge
Day Ten in Ait Benhaddou

I am also on TripAdvisor, find me here.

Morocco: Ait Benhaddou

the best of Morocco
After Todra Gorge we drove to Ait Benhaddou and arrived at our hotel by late afternoon as the sun was setting. Time in this place was short and we were to leave the next day sometime around Noon. With only 3 other destinations left after Ait Benhaddou I was getting exhausted (In a good way). Being constantly on the move plus beautiful sensory overload through out this adventure holiday was really challenging my stamina at this point but at the same time there was a sadness brewing because I had fallen in love with Morocco & I knew that soon this life changing adventure will be over.
Aït Benhaddou is a fortified city, or ksar, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. It is situated in Souss-Massa-Drâa on a hill along the Ounila River and is known for its kasbahs, although they take damage with each rainstorm. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; however, eight families still live within the ksar.

Aït Benhaddou has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and many movies have been filmed here including Prince of Persia, Kingdom of Heaven & the Mummy. It is also used in parts of the hit T.V show Game of Thrones.

ait benhaddou

city game of thrones was filmed

Ouarzazate

visit Morocco

where to go in Morocco

the Moroccan culture

Berber people

Berber culture

sunset in Morocco

visit Ait Benhaddou

things to see in Morocco

Intrepid tours

Katie Ness sunflowerteeth blog
We explored the streets of this clay kasbah at a relaxed pace, then finished off the day with a meal of delicious couscous. Part of our stay also involved a ‘cooking class’ demonstration on how to cook Tagine meals which was fun to watch. we all enjoyed spending time with the owner of the Guesthouse who was a playful & entertaining host. His nickname is “Action” because he has been an extra in many of the films directed here. He welcomed us to the top of the guesthouse balcony for some refreshing Moroccan mint green tea.

Morocco best of

where to stay in ait benhaddou

beautiful views in Ait Benhaddou

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Staying here was wonderful & the views were stunning, you really did feel like you were taken back in time whilst walking through the ancient city that hasn’t changed since the 11th Century. Just being in the presence of these simple but breath taking structures left me in awe. If you go here, walk through the city during sunset or sunrise because when the auburn sun light hits the golden sandy walls of the buildings & the curves of the surrounding landscape it is truly a spectacular view.

If you missed previous Moroccan adventures click on the links below!
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes
Day Four/Afternoon in Volubilis
Day Five: Fes
Day Six: Midelt
Day Seven in Sahara Desert
Days Eight/Nine in Todra Gorge

I am also on TripAdvisor, find me here.

Morocco: Todra Gorge

Morocco Todra Gorge
After the Sahara desert we drove to Todra Gorge and arrived at our hotel as the afternoon sun was setting, it was situated at the base of the stunning flame orange canyon and surrounded by an Oasis of palm trees and tropical looking plant-life. We had to walk through this Oasis get to our hotel on the other side of the valley. The whole moment was quite surreal, it felt like we were walking through a mirage within the rocky & barren landscape. This was a time of rest & refuge for everyone because we were to stay here for two nights which was great considering most days so far in this adventure holiday consisted of traveling to destinations and full on daily activities from 7am until 9pm, I don’t know about the others but I was exhausted but it was a happy tiredness non the less. This part of the adventure was a welcome retreat. This amazing gorge plunges 300 meters down to a clear river. Pastoral villages and hotels are scattered throughout the area. This place is very popular with rock climbers.

The Todra Gorge or “Todgha Gorge” is a canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, near the town of Tinerhir. The tiny glacier stream is something of a misfit, the river which once filled the gorge must have carried a lot more water. It is easy to hike in the gorge along a well-maintained paved road. The scenery is spectacular. Local people live in the area and can be seen with their small donkeys or herding camels and goats.

Once we all left our back packs in our rooms, some of us took a dip in the pool before we all settled for the night. Don’t let that photo fool you though, the water was freezing because although Morocco gets reasonably hot during middday in the spring, it wasn’t high summer temperatures plus we were engulfed in shade from the deep gorge and as the sun sets at this time of year in Morocco, it still can get a little chilly in the evenings.
Todgha Gorge

Beautiful Morocco valley

Todra Gorge trek near atlas mountains

valley of Todra Gorge

hotel depp in Todra Gorge

Oasis in Todgha Gorge

the Beautiful Todra Gorge
In the morning we were all up bright and early for a 3 or 4 hour trek up and around the Gorge. It was a reasonably easy (Intermediate) trek up the gorge so I wore my India skirt. I dislike being in clothing that feels tight and constraining, so I very rarely wear jeans or trousers, I also usually prefer walking barefoot but on this occasion that wouldn’t have been sensible. If trekking around the gorge is something you are interested in, I’d say you’d have to be reasonably physically fit and used to walking long distances, at home I walk everywhere I need to get to, attend twice weekly Yoga classes & do at least 20 minutes of dance practice a day so the walk for me was reasonably easy with some challenging higher areas that were a little hard on the knees, there were 3 exuberant retired people trekking the gorge as well so really you can be any age and unless you do have serious health problems, there really is no excuse not to experience this walk. The views as we walked higher up were out of this world, it is also so remote with not a soul in the world but you, your guide & members of your group that you feel at peace, closer to nature and to “God”. Being in a place like this really makes you appreciate mother earth and feel the vastness of your own insignificance that you begin to forget all your silly daily worries our western world has conformed us to believe are important when in the grand scheme of things, nothing but love & and living life are paramount.

things to do in Morocco

beautiful places to visit in Morocco

Where to go in Morocco

Touring around high atlas

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Eventually trekking back down to the valley we began to see glimpses of lush green plant life, local women in the fields and sand coloured villages from below. It was a wonderful refreshing trek but my gosh I was tired & hungry! After eating a hearty tagine meal fit for a king we spent some time with local crafts men & women who taught us how to prepare wool to weave into the elaborate hand crafted carpets which was so much fun because I love learning about other culture’s lifestyles but it was hard work on my arms!

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Back at the hotel some of our group went for showers & a rest in their rooms whilst others went to sit around the sun decks and a small collective of the ladies waited to have Henna tattoos by local Berber women. This was a very special moment for me because I love Henna, I create my own Henna tattoos at home for special occasions and it just felt great to actually have a tattoo created by a lovely Berber lady. Her English was very minimal and I Obviously could not speak Moroccan Arabic or Berber but the creation of the tattoo brought about a different type of communication where no words were needed, I was sharing creative and happy energy with this lady and for that I was thankful. Sometimes you don’t need words, sometimes language can act as a barrier and sometimes it is just great to sit, listen & observe the moment you are in and enjoy it silently. After patiently waiting for my Henna design to dry, everyone began to make their way into the dinning room ready for our banquet. Moroccans eat really well and all their food is fresh & healthy, so even though I was eating quite a lot I was also constantly on the move (Including a lot of dancing) during this trip so needless to say I lost some weight. It wasn’t long after the meal, when the evening set in we all sat by the fire with some locals to play instruments, sing songs and dance until the early hours of the morning. I felt so blessed to be involved in this moment and in this beautiful part of the world.

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The last two photos of this blog are of my travel mascot. She is a Sasquatch called Sonmi Yukio (named after 2 fictional characters from films ) She has been with me to many places around the UK, Morocco, Croatia & Montenegro and she will continue to travel with me and enjoy meeting people a long the way.

By the second day there was another optional walk that Jon decided to do but I wanted to relax on the veranda, take in my surroundings and read my book. I enjoyed the walk from the day before but my body needs to balance something rigorous with something peaceful to feel harmonious. As a Libra (represented by the scales) I am always on a mission to seek out balance in all aspects of my life otherwise I become disorientated & emotionally tired so I quite enjoyed the quiet of the second day.

Waking up early in the morning there was a slight brisk wind and a mild sand storm as we packed our things and hopped in the mini van. Leaving Todra Gorge was actually quite hard, having stayed there for two days we made friends with incredible people who were genuinely happy & full of life, we all wanted to stay and sing & dance for many more nights to come but we had to move on. After Todra Gorge we ventured to Ait Benhaddou so stay tuned for the next blog post which will hopefully be published next week.

If you missed other Moroccan adventures I wrote about, click on the links below.
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes
Day Four/Afternoon in Volubilis
Day Five: Fes
Day Six: Midelt
Day Seven in Sahara Desert

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