Sahara Trek Day 2 – 8:30am and we were off towards the High Atlas mountains en route to Ouarzazate. If anybody thought they would be bored on this 5 hour minibus journey, they’d be very wrong. It was fabulous as an expedition all of its own. Snow-capped mountains, traditional Berber villages, reaching heights over 4000m, and some VERY steep slopes at times just a pebble’s width away from the side of the minibus… The narrow roads made for some exhilarating negotiations with other drivers, Berber style, mostly on the theme of the game of ‘chicken’. Our driver never lost a game, thankfully. I took a little footage of a more sedate part of our journey, as at the other more adrenaline-fuelled moments I was probably clinging onto my seat and giggling hysterically… I have left the video in it’s natural shaky state as I think you get more of the journey experience that way! I could have filmed a better view but I was just too busy taking it all in!
A photo break and opportunity to do some haggling presented itself at a roadside lay-by with some locals selling rocks, fossils and minerals. It is standard practice in Morocco for the seller to offer the highest price possible initially and then enter into bartering. I was quite pleased with myself for bartering from 250 dirhams (currently around 14dH equal £1) down to 80dH (then giving him 100 anyway as didn’t have any change!) but then later realised some colour had been added to this to make it a little more appealing…(you may just be able to make out the truer pale lilac at the edges).
I also had a wander off down the hillside here to find a Berber toilet (i.e. anywhere!) and made a little friend on the way:
and this was my view! Nice bathroom outlook…. and no I didn’t, before you ask! Alcohol rub is the other answer!I wouldn’t have minded being left behind here. However Jamal was too good with his headcounts before he’d let the minibuses go, for me to get away with that one.
All this and not even midday! Ait-Ben-Haddou was our fabulous lunch spot, a UNESCO World Heritage site due to the traditional grouped earthen dwellings within defensive walls. Finally I laid eyes on a Berber Tagine and enjoyed all the flavours of my favourite customary Moroccan dish. After lunch we had the first stretch of our legs and climbed a couple of hundred steps up through the town to the ‘loft’ at the top – ‘the look-out’. True essence of picturesque.
By the end of the afternoon we had reached Ouarzazate and a gorgeous little hostel that reminded me exactly of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, one man in charge, things falling apart, but stunning, exotic indeed, charismatic, and just perfect for our final stop before the Sahara.
Our last night pre-Sahara was accompanied with wifi, so I had one last check-in with home. It seemed it was a slow news day in Yorkshire as we had made the front page!
Part 3 asap (feet still not had chance to touch the ground yet, bit like roadrunner but with a limp!)