We were sleepy after a hearty buffet breakfast, joking about going back to the apartment, and just sleep. But we have a journey to take. After a few minutes of rest, we hit the Autoroutes du Maroc and made a right-turn to Fes. My two friends were sleeping at the backseat when we stopped by the police in Ouezzane and issued an overspeed ticket. We never argued and just paid the 150 MAD.  It took them 20 minutes to fill up the whole sheet of paper. Continuing to Chaouen, we dropped by into this small restaurant serving tagine in Derdara and ordered 2 lamb tagine which was good for 4 persons. It was the first time for my friends to taste tagine and they loved it.

Slow fire-cooked lamb tagine. 2 big pots of delicious tagine plus 1.5 liters of bottled water for 150 MAD. Worth it!

Arriving in Chefchaouen, we easily found a space and parked our car,  took a walk around medina, did some shopping for souvenirs and to the Spanish mosque. We stayed there for a while before heading back to the medina. There were not many people during mid-afternoon or I guess it’s because of COVID-19 scare. The lavender scent around the Spanish mosque adds some kind of different energy perfect for meditation. We even collected some lavender blossoms for home use.

Look for the only green among the blue doors inside Chefchaouen medina.
Enjoy a small glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice for 4 MAD. As a tourist, don’t ask for the price, just give the exact amount.

Reality vs. Expectation. Just see for yourself. Chefchaouen is still one of the best cities in Morocco to explore. Not many aggressive people selling you something. The path to the mosque had improved significantly making it more accessible.

My constant visit to Chefchaouen gave me an opportunity to establish acquaintances with carpet vendors, artists, and some locals. In that way, we can always get a good non-touristic price. Moreover, the familiarity of medina made it easier for us to navigate in those labyrinths. Well, Chaouen medina isn’t that big compared to Rabat, Marrakech or Fes.

Chefchaouen to Azrou

As scheduled, we left Chaouen on time for Azrou. More than an hour since we left, we were stopped again by the police for the second time near Pont de Loukkos. Be careful when driving in Morocco, they just hide anywhere. The worst-case was they forgot to hand us the identification cards and other documents so we had to for back wasting more than 2 hours. We got lost somewhere close to the wine-making city of El Hajeb and went back to the main road. Arriving past midnight in Azrou, we immediately checked in to our hotel and found a not-so-nice restaurant. Just enough for dinner compliance. We don’t want to sleep with an empty stomach.  Normally, it’s only 6 hours’ drive from Chaouen to Azrou but took us 8 hours since we had to retrieve the papers from the police. We were the ones who adjusted. Piece of advice: always double-check all the papers that you should have before leaving the highway police

Azrou to Merzouga

The breakfast at the hotel wasn’t that bad. We requested to have it served at 08h00 but the hotel staff disagreed so we had to wait for the schedule at 08h30. Too bad, we should haven’t taken that breakfast and save much time. Live and learn. Few minutes after we came out of Cèdre Gouraud Forest, we were stopped by the policemen, checked on our car and told us the violation of not wearing seatbelts for back passengers. These guys are really looking for ways to issue a ticket. Abdellah asked the police why don’t they issue tickets to taxi drivers? After a few arguments with my friend, they let us go. He told the police that we are already broke with 2 tickets we had the other day. It was a bit traumatic for us and Abdellah was too vigilant always looking at the speedometer.

It was a long and tiring drive for my friend Abdellah. Sometimes I got to knock my head on the glass window. Somewhere past Midelt, we had a good lunch of kefta and bread for 130 MAD. The kefta was one of the best I had in Morocco. It was fresh, juicy and simple.

The good price for 1-kilo lamb kefta costs 130 MAD. Kefta is ground beef or lamb seasoned with mixed ingredients of onion, cayenne, coriander, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley then charcoal-grilled.

Traversing the High Atlas mountains, passing the ridges and occasional encounters with kids asking for water and candy was a common sight on the way to Merzouga. We reached the big and bustling city of Errachidia. The city was quite big with all the commercial establishments, a few restaurants, and cafes. From there, we continued the drive to Erfoud and Rissani lined with palm dates. We knew that we were almost close to Merzouga when we saw the high dunes all over the semi-desert entrance to our destination. The Waze map wasn’t really accurate and took us to the wrong place but managed to get to the meeting point. It was too empty and we thought the camels already left. Not knowing that the meeting point, as well as the camp, was family-operated by Mohammed and Ismail. So there’s no way for them to leave us. In fact, we were too early for 16h00 to 17h00 rendezvous. Enough to prepare ourselves for an hour camel ride to our camp behind the dunes.

The High Atlas mountains

The camels were ready and we loaded one by one. It was a struggle at first and after a few minutes, you’ll get used to it. I managed to snap a few photos without holding the handle of the camel vest. I must say that it was one of the best trips I had in my life. The howling wind, birds chirping and the sound of the sand wiping the ground was hypnotizing. Arriving at our camp, we were welcomed by the staff with almost cold attay (mint tea). Better than nothing. Our room was equipped with 2 comfortable double mattresses. A Wifi connection was also available for free in the social area. The separate toilet was so clean and it has the basic amenities like a hot shower. But the water has a certain stagnant smell.

Our camels going back to the basecamp. The following day, they had to go back to fetch us.
Our well-elaborate desert camp equipped with basic amenities such as clean restrooms, hot showers, and most importantly, wiFi!

The dinner of chicken tagine was served with bread and freshly-sliced orange juice as dessert. After we partake at the sumptuous dinner, we headed to the campfire and pampered with some Amazigh songs. I don’t really know the meaning of those songs with drum accompaniment but it was unique. One of the performers got a phone call and he had to answer it. By the way, there’s a connection out there for people who can’t survive without being disconnected. We called it a day after 3 song performance.

Small musical presentations after dinner is a common activity. It was a cozy gathering around the campfire. You can also hear drums beating loudly from nearby camps enough for you to get sleep.

Back to Merzouga

We were late for sunrise when the staff knocked on the door. The walk on top of the dunes was rewarding but a bit difficult. After 30 minutes at the sand dunes, we head back to the camp for breakfast. The usual egg omelet with bread was served. I can say that it wasn’t really that good especially the powdered orange juice which tasted like a medicine. Right after we packed our bags, the camels were bored outside waiting for us. Back to our basecamp, we passed by a few camels going back to the town. Some 4×4 trucks were also enthusiastic to row the enormous dunes of Merzouga. This is advisable for some who can’t endure the exhausting camel ride. As much as we loved to chat with Mohammed at the basecamp, we had to bid goodbye and continued the long drive to Marrakech where we spent a night there.

Remnants of a previous campsite. In March 2019, the government made an effort to organize campsites for environmental and security reasons. Before, they can just build their camp in the middle of the Merzouga. At present, all camps are situated behind the dunes. An hour camel ride from the city of Merzouga.

This navigator camel snatched some snacks in the middle of the desert.

Merzouga to Marrakech

One of the longest drives I had in Morocco was this trip. 12 hours in total. We were rewarded by panoramic vistas of the desert, naturally-painted mountains, the endless blue skies, and occasional encounters with the Amazigh kids asking for candies or just waving. It was already dark when we reached Demnate. We finally went down alive traversing the bone-jarring road of high Atlas. At past 12, we safely arrived in Marrakech exhausted. Another issue we had encountered was parking. The riad was situated inside the medina.  My friends didn’t even want to go out of the riad for dinner so we had food-to-go at KFC. What a day!

Camels on the wild is a common scene in nearby Merzouga.

Passing by Kalaat M’Gouna or Qalaat MGouna or Tighremt NImgunen, we encountered these desert goats happily grazing.

Dropping by in one of the highest roads in Morocco. Situated in High Atlas a few kilometers away from Ait Tamlil.
We can’t resist from pulling-over and took a snap of these Amazigh kids. Good thing we still have few croissants left.
Close to Mt. Toubkal in the High Atlas is a village of Ait Oumdis, with a population of over 15,000 in 2004 census.

Quick sightseeing in Marrakech

The next day was intended for a small walk around the famous Jemaa El-Fna, shop for souvenirs and to sample some dishes unique to Marrakech. The mechoui and tangia. My friends wanted to see how chaotic the city so hit the biggest square and let them see those common scams.

Mosque Koutoubia is the largest mosque in Marrakech and is a classic example of Almohad architecture.


Pashmina scarf for 50 MAD each. In Morocco, always try to haggle. Just be consistent. If they gave you 70 MAD, haggle for 50. If they will not give it to you, simply walk away. Don’t be afraid. They will call you after if they deemed it fair. It’s like a show. They know that you are a tourist so they will give you a tourist price.
Buy here. Normally, they offer affordable prices like for the wooden spoon, it would cost 5 MAD only. Don’t haggle anymore. They don’t run big shops.
This was the best part of the trip and I think my friends loved the mechoui. 170 MAD per kilo. Tender juicy roasted lamb.
The tangia (75 MAD per 500 grams) inside small jars is also cooked inside the pit. The mechoui (170 per kilo) is a whole roasted lamb.
This pit is kept closed and opened from time to time when just need more. It’s a lively atmosphere here like a circus. Vendor and meat-cutter shouting, buyers flocking around and people waiting for other customers to finish their mechoui and tangia.

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I live my life everyday celebrating. An easy go lucky guy. Always hungry for adventure and learning different cultures. If I'm not at the summit, I'm at the sea. Traveling is my way of life. Deeply in love with mountaineering, swimming, skinny dipping, island hopping, fishing, and cycling. Loves good food, beer, music, and good human conversation. At home, I used to cook, do yoga, and meditate. A coffee lover. Stay most of my time at the outdoors, breathing the cold air, tasting the saltiness of sea breeze, watch the waves swiftly caressing the sand, listen to the flowing water of the river, pitch my tent or hang my hammock and sleep under 5 billion stars. I hate manicured places (resorts). Adores sunrise and sunset which gives me extraordinary energy.


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