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Exploring Morocco: From Marrakech to the Sahara in 45 Pictures

We landed in Casablanca on March 15th, eager to spend the coming week exploring Morocco. This was my first trip to a North African country, and I planned to get a sweeping  overview of everything Morocco has to offer—a power-scouting trip for future, deeper excursions.

Welcome to Marrakech

We caught a four-hour train ride to Marrakech and arrived at the station after dark.

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Our taxi driver navigated through swells of traffic and brought us right into the heart of Marrakech, Jamaa el Fna, the ancient main square.

Surging with people, the sights, sounds, and smells were intense. Groups of men packed in tight circles and played music. Merchants called out from food stalls selling water and fresh oranges or roasted almonds. Towards the center of the square, under tents, men cooked all kinds of meat. The air was filled with smoke. We navigated through the crowds and slipped into one of the dusty corridors of the medina to find our hostel.

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It was tricky to find. Tucked away down a dark alley and marked by a small sign, it took a few extra turns to get there.

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The hostel itself was a traditional Moroccan riad, colorful and brightly lit with a beautiful rooftop lounge. It was well worth it to stay here. We made fast friends with other guests and spent the weekend exploring with them.

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Scenes from the Medina

In the morning, we took to the streets, dodging scooters and wandering throughout the medina, taking in the sights. We made our way to the local tannery and watched Moroccans prepare their renowned leather.

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Cruising to the Sahara

From Marrakech, it was a two-day drive to reach the Sahara.

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Just a few miles out, the congestion of the city gives way to an open mountainous landscape.

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We made our way eastward through the Atlas Mountains, stopping at viewpoints where traditional Moroccan goods are sold.

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We arrived in Ouarzazate and visited the ancient Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Lunch was always delicious, set in a traditional Moroccan motif with colorful fabrics and plenty of cushions. I loved the tagines made from stewed meats and vegetables, and sliced oranges with cinnamon makes for the perfect dessert!

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Driving towards the border to Algeria, we encountered many Berber villages nearly camouflaged by the mountains.

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Finally, we made it to the Sahara just before dusk. The dunefield rose up from the horizon, red and massive. We packed our gear, climbed onto camels, and trekked out into the desert towards our campsite.

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The sun was low as we lumbered through the sand with 360° views of the Sahara desert. It was serene and wonderful, easily one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

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After a dinner of home-cooked tagine at our campsite, the night grew dark. I hiked up to where the camels were sleeping and snapped a few pictures in the moonlight.

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The following morning, we made the long trek back to spend our last evening in Marrakech.

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Morocco is a sensory delight. With such a warm and diverse people, striking architecture and culture, and coffee like no other, this country was a treat to explore. I highly recommend it!

4 Comments

  • Kjell on Jun 11, 2014 Reply

    Veeery nice. Such vibrant colors and smooth compositions. Love it.

  • Karen on Jun 02, 2014 Reply

    Outstanding, Hillary! Photography was exceptional! So proud of you, girl!!

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