High Atlas Mountains
Day 1: Marrakech to Dades Gorge
The first part of the 3 days 2 nights Merzouga Desert Tour is finally here! It felt so incredibly surreal as we set off in a minivan, leaving all the headiness of Marrakech behind. You can bet we had ourselves some orange juice at the Medina square before leaving. What I love most about being on the road is the opportunity to watch the scenery flit past me - the blurry mountains and flickers of gentle grazing sheep. During the trip itself, the minivan frequently stopped at certain points to let us take in the scenery in its full glory and capture memories in pictures. Our first stop was the High Atlas mountains, which were much grander than I'd imagined. I loved how dreamy the mountains looked. There was a stall selling rocks and precious stones as well, but we didn't buy anything since it looked too much like a tourist trap.
High Atlas Mountains
The next stop was a washroom break at a really picturesque site - the greenery was so lush! This was followed by a visit to an Argan oil tent, which involved brief demonstrations of how they produce the oil by hand and shelves of products available for purchase - interesting, but clearly a pit stop for tourists only.
Next thing we knew, we were at the Kasbah of Aït Benhaddou. This was definitely the highlight of the day since Aït Benhaddou has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Several well known films have been shot there as well, including the Mummy, Gladiator, Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven, etc. I remember loving the Mummy film when I was younger so this was pretty cool! The Kasbah has been gradually falling apart with every rainstorm though, and most of the inhabitants have moved. Still, it felt special making our way up to the very top of Aït Benhaddou (took us about an hour or more) and passing by villagers going about their everyday life. There were a few shops too - some selling paintings, others selling traditional Moroccan clothing.
Taourirt Kasbah (above), Doigts de Singe or Monkey's Fingers (below)
Next, the minivan dropped us at Taourirt Kasbah, which required additional admission fees. Doesn't it look gorgeous? Our last stop for the day was a quick stop at a vantage point for Doigts de Singe (or Monkey's Fingers). We all found the name hilarious but I do spot some semblance. Don't you?
Le Vieux Chateau, Dades Gorges
We kept our expectations low since we were clearly going for the most budget desert tour out there so the views from the Le Vieux Chateau hotel really blew us away. The stunning Dades Gorge was just outside our window! Sitting by the common balcony, feeling the soft night breeze and listening to the soothing sounds of the flowing river with fantastic company was one of my best memories in Morocco. Dinner was pretty decent too. We had a surprisingly tasty chicken tagine, lots of couscous (though it was a tad dry), and the hungry ones helped themselves to khobz bread.
Cost of 3D2N tour: 70 Euros after bargain, actual price is 90 Euros
Additional costs for Day 1: lunch at a fixed restaurant, tips for Kasbah guides and admission fee for Taourirt Kasbah
P.S. Part 2 is coming right up!
Other Morocco Posts
3 Days 2 Nights Marrakech-Merzouga Desert Tour (Part 2)
7-Day Morocco Travel Guide
Fantastic Street Food in Fez
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