One long day. All of 450 kilometers on a roadtrip taking us through Morocco’s “Switzerland”, a short stop to “meet and greet” Barbary Macaques in the cedar woods of Ifrane, then a picturesque break by the lake called Dayat Aqua, then lunch at Midelt. Just before reaching Merzouga, there would be another stop to view the rock formations in the Ziz Valley. In between , we managed to take naps in the van.
The drop in temperature in Ifrane was most welcome. Located in the Middle Atlas mountains, this elegant resort town becomes a ski resort complete with ski lifts during the snowy winter months. Can you imagine SNOW in Morocco? I wouldn’t have guessed. But yes, Ifrane draws many holiday-makers seeking to snow board, sled or ski in winter. As we drove on, we passed areas which our guide said get completely blanketed in snow in winter. The lakeside view was quite impressive. There was a European feel to the whole area especially with the Swiss chalet- inspired cottages, cafes and shops.
The drive traced the Ziz River for a while. This river snakes through the Atlas Mountains of Morocco for some 282 kilometers into the Sahara Desert in Algeria. It was a refreshing sight deserving of a pitstop. From waterscape to mountainscape, the long drive rewarded us with postcard-worthy views. We even managed to do some fossil-shopping along the way. And some gourds too!
Our arrival in Merzouga left us all exhausted. A bit of excitement though when we passed an area only 10 kms from the Algerian border. But only for a few moments as our tired bods just couldn’t care less about the peril of being too close to Al Qaeda territory. Guess we were all looking forward to our beds for the night. The Kasbah de Touareg where we stayed is right by the desert fringes. No surprise then that there’s sand all around. I wasn’t sure I could sleep that night, but I did. All perked up the following morning for some dune bashin’ too. Oh man, all that dust!
And so, are we ready for the camel trekking and the night under the stars in a bivouac in the Sahara Desert? Ready or not, we won’t pass up the experience. Next blog on the Night at the Desert. Watch this page, folks!