Parting Marrakech was bittersweet for me. I hated to leave our amazing Riad, but was anxious to see a different Morocco than we had seen so far. Our next stop was to be in Ait Ouaddar and the Todra Gorge. We hired a driver to take us through the country. What an amazing experience! In the 5 or 6 hour drive I managed to take 175 pictures!
The topography of Morocco is absolutely incredible. There are mountains, valleys, hills, dried riverbeds, towns, shepherds, sheep, goats, tiny villages and windy roads. I was completely shocked at the incredible beauty of Morocco outside of the medinas. We stopped on the side of the road where a man was selling fossils, and crystal rocks. He had a stand set up to sell the things he would find in the mountains on his walks. He was proud and knowledgeable, not to mention agile from walking the mountains his whole life. He is such an expert that he can now tell which rocks are crystals and which aren’t before he even opens them. After buying several things from him we jumped back in the van and started the climb up 2, 260 meters to the Atlas Mountains.
Our driver was so incredible about teaching us about the Muslim culture, the Arabic culture, and the history of the Berber people. It was an incredibly fascinating ride with a man loved talking to and learning from. He taught us about the five sacred fruits or heavenly fruits of Allah:
Along our drive we also saw where most towns or villages had something in Arabic carved into the side of a mountain overlooking their village. There were three words in a triangle pattern. It stands for Allah, Country, King with Allah being at the top of the triangle. Many villages also used the mountains to announce the names of their villages or towns.
On our way to Ait Ouaddar we stopped in the town of Ouarzazate. This area is flat desert, super hot and really cool looking. It is where Hollywood comes to shoot a lot of movies, including The Mummy. There is still a set standing as you enter the town, and as you exit the town you can see some of the machinery they use for filming as well. It was like a ghost town when we went through, due to Ramadan, but very cool to see anyway. We almost felt like we were on an abandoned movie set as we ate lunch there, it was so quite and still.
When we arrived at Ait Ouaddar we couldn’t believe the massivity of the moutains surrounding us. Ait Ouaddar is also part of a gorge formed by raging rivers. There are Nomads who live in the mountains, making their homes in caves, or small houses they build into the sides of the mountain. It was absolutely incredible to watch them walk along the mountain herding their animals.
We loved the peace and beauty of the area with valleys of oleander, and unusual rock formations.
We found the food, the Berber people and the scenery to be incredible in this whole region. The Berber people are gentle, laid back people who seemed to like to laugh quite a bit and were incredibly hospitable.
The day we left to travel on we stopped at the Todra Gorge. We had a new driver, who was so sweet and proud to show off his amazing country. The Gorge was heart stopping. While I stood in the bottom of the gorge, surrounding by these gorgeous rocky mountains I couldn’t help but note how small and insignificant I am in this world. I am here for such a short time compared to the beautiful planet, and in the bottom of a gorge you realize you are also such a small tiny piece of the planet as well. I was in complete awe and had an incredibly strong sense of just how blessed I am. While there were tourists there, there were far fewer people than we have experienced in other countries.
This part of Morocco, the landscape, the people, the food, it was all taking me by surprise. My neck literally hurt from looking out the window for so long as we drove through the middle of Morocco.
Before you head to Morocco make sure to read my post about the Do’s, Don’ts and Things To Know.