Exploring Morocco – المغرب
There’s nothing like the cooler climate of North Africa to wind down the pace from four months of solo travel abroad. I can’t say enough about Morocco to describe the amazing experience I had exploring this wonderful country. After months of exploring countries on the Indian ocean, it was not by chance that I ended up in Morocco. As a young boy, I had a fantasy of treasure hunting, exploring exotic locations, and riding camels across the famed Sahara Desert. For my 50th this year, I made my boyhood dream come true. I knocked another one off the bucket list and trekked the Sahara on camel, spending the night in a Berber camp, where we partied until the wee hours of the morning. While I was only in Morocco for a couple of weeks, I was fortunate enough to explore more than 13 cities. Above: my map of the journey.
I thought it might be a good idea to bring a map…I sure didn’t want to get lost in the middle of the Sahara. We started our tour in Casablanca, stopping for one or two days in each city, looping across the country, over the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert. We then crossed over the Atlas Mountains again to end our excursion back in Casablanca. This country is a shopper’s paradise. I bought so many items of clothing, coffee, chocolate, antiques, etc. that I had to buy an extra piece of luggage to bring everything back. Nothing like an aged leather bag from Fez to carry home one’s treasures!
M A R R A K E C H مراكش
The view of the open air market in Marrakech, taken in while enjoying a beer on my rooftop perch.
Fun evening out on the town in Marrakech. Great meal and entertainment at Dar Essalam. Mmmmm, yummy Moroccan food and talented belly dancers.
C A S A B L A N C A
Exploring Casablanca. Great food, wonderful people, and great deals on everything.
The Four Seasons, beach-side in Casablanca. Just got a great deal on shoes and some designer shirts.
V O L U B I L I S
I explored the Ancient Roman city of Volubilis in Morocco. Volubilis dates back to 40 BC and was once home to more than 20,000 residents. This site has not been fully excavated by archeologists yet, so there are lots of mosaic tiles and pieces of ancient pottery just lying around. What a fun city to explore!
S A H A R A D E S E R T
Trekking the Sahara Desert, a self-given birthday gift. My cell phone was going off in the middle of the Sahara with everyone wishing me a happy birthday. Ding…Ding…Ding. With a smile on my face, we rode on in search of our camp.
Below photo: Sunrise on the Sahara, April 12th, with the magical golden sand. I bottled some of the sand and brought some home, along with the shells from Indonesia, Singapore, Dar., Zanzibar, and Madagascar.
I spent the night in a camp and celebrated my 50th with fellow explorers. Jonathan Bulezuik got tanked on a bottle of gin and stayed up all night playing drums with the locals while talking to them about hot political topics. The video below was shot just after dinner in the center of our tent camp.
Sunrise in the Sahara. What a beautiful morning.
K A S B A H A M R I D I L
Stopped and toured this beautiful kasbah in the middle of the lush palm groves.
T O D G H A G O R G E
The drive to FEZ
One last stop before we reach Fez and my chance to get some Moroccan chocolate for wine pairing and cooking. Love the spice selection in the local supermarket!
F E Z
Love the detailed stone work in my hotel lobby.
Leather capital of Africa. Bring some mint if you visit the tanneries. Chouara (Chaouwara) Leather Tannery in Fez Medina
Need a jacket, shoes, or a leather bag? The Leather tanneries of Fez have anything leather you can think of, including fresh mint to mask the smell.
I love it when you go out to eat and the belly dancer pulls you away from the table to tango.
M E K N E S
I found the food in Meknes to be delicious. The merchants were way too high on their prices, but then I was a little overdressed for hard-core bargaining. There are nice antiques in this city. I took this photo of Bab Mansour, a huge gate with arches and mosaic tiling. The gate leads into the former imperial city. The Mausoleum of Sultan Moulay Ismail, who made the city his capital in the 17th century, has courtyards and fountains. Now heading to the capital city of Rabat on the coast.
A I T B E N H A D D O U
Below: Ait Benhaddou, Ighrem, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. We found snow while crossing the Atlas Mountains. My ears were popping upon descent. Digging the shirt I bought in Ethiopia; the clothing there was pretty cool for a third world country.
R A B A T
Hassan Tower at the Mausoleum of Mohammed V
Sunset over the Atlantic. The cool ocean breeze is refreshing; it’s a nice way to end my stay in Barat, Morocco.
What a great group of people to explore Morocco with. Many special thanks to everyone for such a fantastic adventure.