MOROCCO MONDAYS | THE DOOR OF THE DESERT – THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS & OUARZAZATE

things to do in morocco, ouarzazate morocco
Ouarzazate Province, Morocco | We left Marrakesh to take a three-day trip through the Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert. The sharp mountain switchbacks were kind of terrifying (made even more so after we heard about all the buses that topple over the cliffs). As our driver careened about, we white-knuckled it and tried to savor the view–which was truly extraordinary. 
things to do in morocco, the atlas mountains morocco
After patting ourselves on the back for surviving, we got to spend time in Ait Benhaddou, a traditional fortified city nestled on the edge of the Atlas Mountains. If I were a cultured person, I might recognize this place from Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, or Game of Thrones. 
things to do morocco, ait benhaddou, game of thrones location
But even without having seen those, I could still appreciate the awesomeness. And I kind of loved how Ouarzazate Province  rests on its film making laurels–it even has a museum dedicated to cinema made in the region, plus toots its own horn for having “the world’s largest movie studio”–at least in acreage. Way to use the Sahara Desert to your advantage. 
ait benhaddou, things to do morocco
The city is made out of a bunch of mud blocks that get worn down with every rain. Because of the weather-induced deterioration, the walls and structures are in constant repair by the locals. It seems like a lot of work and I can understand why only a few families still live there. Most have migrated to the new city across the way. 
things to do morocco, ait benhaddou
Ouarzazate means “without noise” or “without confusion” in Berber. I love when languages have phrases for things we don’t have in English. It is a rare thing to be without noise or confusion but Ouarzazate was both of those. The quality was illustrated time and time again by the nearly lunar landscapes that pop up as you drive along. Don’t these rock formations look like a cross between Mars and a brain? Crazy. 
things to do morocco, ouarzazate
In which I try to get artsy/meta with the camera. Warren and I totally rocked wearing sunglasses over our glasses the entire trip. Classy. 
things to do in morocco, ouarzazate
I loved the stark contrasts of everything in Ouarzazate Province: the big blue sky highlighting the red cliffs and embedded cities, foiled against the lush greenery that grew out of thin little streams that wove through the canyons. 
things to do in morocco, ouarzazate

In which I sun like a cat, soaking up all that good, healing vitamin D that was so scarce in Spain.

things to do morocco, ouarzazate
We wound our way from Ouarzazate through the Valley of Roses, where flowers are cultivated for perfume worldwide. 
things to do morocco, valley of roses

We lucky ducks got to stay the night in an old chateau that overlooked a bubbling river. It was gorgeous and serene.

things to do morocco, valley of roses
Okay, so driving the crazy roads through the Atlas Mountains was not my favorite thing in the world, but I definitely loved how peaceful it was everywhere we went. It was such a different pace from the crowded din of Marrakesh. I’m so glad we were able to see a glimpse of the Moroccan countryside. 
Stay tuned: Next week we’ll visit a Berber village where Warren tapped into his true identity as a Berber washerwoman. Plus, we’ll show you the ridiculously awesome and beautifully embroidered rug we got.  Can’t wait!
If you missed any stops along the way, check them out below!
The Great Spain/Morocco Adventure Recap

-Game Plan/Travel Itinerary for MoROCK’n It
-The Adventure Begins at a Brooklyn Wedding
-Getting Hustled By Snake Charmers in Marrakesh (The Red City)

Never Miss A Recipe!

Subscribe to receive new recipes via email PLUS access to my free digital downloads library!

A password will be emailed to you after your subscription is confirmed.

Comments

  1. says

    I admire those town people. I would have left the city in complete disrepair and headed for the nearest town with AC and a grocery store. 🙂

  2. says

    Driving on those roads was crazy. I thought we would get in an accident going around just about every corner since our driver would always drift into the oncoming traffic lane. Somehow the only accident we had was our side-view mirror collided with a truck's mirror and it shattered.

  3. says

    the city looks like little mineral formations that have sprung up from the ground, so perfect in its geometry. also, i'm excited to see your new rug!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *