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    • Morocco Camel Trekking in Merzouga Desert , You need advice .?

      Morocco Mar 27, 2015 at 7:15 AM

      We started our Moroccan trip from Fes, after visiting the most important places, we left the Fes Medina mid-day to roam and explore the nouville, French for the new city part of Fes. Our bus was not departing till 9 at night so we had time to chill out in the city center. While the others went to re-up on some supplies, I stayed to watch the bags. A few kids came on bikes and I filmed them with my gopro. We quickly made friends despite the language barrier. They were eager to share their tricks for the camera. I gave them some graffiti stickers and share facebook information. Facebook, Everyone in Morocco has it.

      A few mint teas, coffees and getting lost, we found ourselves at the CTM bus station.. There was a German trio playing a guitar, where Thanecha immediately took to join. New friends were instantly made by the love for music, but we never knew how good of friends they would soon become. We had a nine hour, overnight bus ride to Rissani, a stop over to Merzouga, where the Sahara meets Morocco.

      After a long, sleepless and sometimes painful 9 hours, we arrived in Rissani, at 6am, before the sun broke the horizon. A man named Mohammed approached us and asked if we wanted some food and drink at his cafe, which he claimed was open, warm and just down the street. It sounded good to us as the Germans joined us. Immediately, this man gave some negative vibes, one of those gut feelings you get when you know something is not right.

      His cafe, Panorama Cafe, was not open or even his and took 10 minutes for someone to unlock it. I called him out on it, and he was quick to be on defense. "Why would I lie to you, my friend?" I dismissed him as we entered with the Germans.

      One of the German girl's boyfriend was coming from Merzouga to come get them, so they hung out with us until then. Mohammed's odd demeanor continued, as he pushed his services on me. I repeatedly said I had an excursion booked and I did not need his assistance in getting to Merzouga. All I or anyone of my group was interested was some tea and coffee. He persisted and was desperate, showing me pictures and videos of his resort and 4x4. He exclaimed that the boyfriend coming to pick them up was total BS because it took jobs away. He mumbled on in Arabic as we figured him out. He knew we figured him out and called his friends to come to his rescue.

      He offered all sorts of BS answers to our questions, and would shout Africa! or USA USA! AMERICA!!! when he didnt know what to say. He eventually brought out tea for all of us, when Ryan said, I am not drinking anything this man gives us. Apparently Mohammed touched a member of our group inappropriately up on the roof terrace moments before. When the tea came out, he switched Thanechas cup with another. It was deliberate and we saw it. Something is going on and not in a good way. His desperation continues as we fight off his advances.

      Finally having enough, we all left to wait with the Germans outside, as their ride was near by. We walked down the road back towards the bus stop, where he gets in his 4x4 chases us, threatening to call the police if we catch a ride with the Germans. We had no intentions to catch a ride with them, it was just an alibi. Just then, a big blue caravan appears around the corner, to the jumping Germans delight and Mohammed's despair. By now he was yelling at us to take his offer, yet we continue to thank him and refuse while walking away. He calls his friend to come help him not let this caravan get away by boxing it in, one car in the front and Mohammed in the back. We attempted to block his efforts to block the caravan by standing in front of his car, almost running over Ryan and Thanecha in the process. He was literally pressing the gas with two people in front of him. He threatened to call the police on us and the Germans if we got in. Tempers were high as shouting matches began, in the middle of town. What is going on?

      The Germans get in drove off leaving us trying to find a taxi, which apparently can only be found in front of his cafe. There is no way that was going to happen. We continue to walk in the opposite direction, repeatedly getting out of his car, claiming he is sorry and asks for forgiveness. By now, everyone in our group is just as hostile, all shouting at him to just leave us alone. I remained calm, thanked him and explained that there was no way we would be accepting any services from him. We walked down another street as far away as possible, cooling our tempers in the process. Did we just screw ourselves? He is probably in cahoots with every cab here, how are we getting to Merzouga?

      About a kilometer down the road, around the bend and out of sight of his cafe, the blue caravan appears. The Germans! They circled back around town unbeknownst to everyone in town, including ourselves. They quickly turned the caravan around and tell us to get in, and make it quick!

      We frantically pile in, lay on the floor in a small space, and drove away. These people were searching for us and came to our rescue. I can't thank them enough.

      We escaped to Merzouga and was greeted with massive sand dunes as soon as we stepped out from the big blue steed.

      After saying bye to our German saviors, we walked over to the hotel next door. At the gate, I saw a young man who looked like he just woke up, but he looked familiar, "Hassan Mouhou?" I asked. "Yeah," he replied. He looked just like the avatar he had on the emails we had exchanged earlier in the year. Short curly black hair, a young round friendly face and dark olive skin colored by the desert sun. I booked a camel excursion through his company ( Morocco Excursions Company => www.Morocco-Excursion.com) ------ (and they come highly recommended as you will read why). We exchanged hellos and he brought us the traditional Berber whiskey (tea - sans the alcohol) out on the sky terrace of the hotel. Hassan was very welcoming and just wanted to hang out, which caught me by surprise. He didn't try to push anything on us or sell us more junk, he just want to talk story and show us a good time. He even knew of Mr. Mohammed from Rissani. He showed us around Center of Merzouga just for fun until he had to prepare for our desert excursion.

      After a light meal, we returned to the hotel packed our bags and went out back to the hotel. There sat eight, single-humped dromedaries, snorting and farting away, ready to trek to camp. I know this is about as touristy as it gets, but hopping on one of those living desert cars and headed towards nothing but orange sand, lit by the low desert sun was surreal. Our former nomad guides, Youssef and Said, lead us and the camels by foot, towards the dunes. Our mini caravan of 6 camels trekked over 7km, across dunes as far as the eye could see. Some dunes were taller than 300 meters, simply incredible. None of us could get over the fact that we were riding dromedaries, into the Saharan desert, in Africa, on Christmas eve.

      Our guides dropped us off at a tall dune just short of camp, leaving us to hike to the top to catch our first Saharan sunset. It felt like we were children again, running up and down the dunes, laughter drifting in the quiet desert air. Was this really happening? We were in the Sahara Desert! After an obligatory mini photo shoot, we dug in and sat on the edge of a sand dune, boots off and toes in the sand, and watched the sun disappear in the distance. Perfect, simply perfect.

      Christmas night was even better. Camp was full, nearly 25 total fellow tourist, some of them wasted, singing and dancing around the fire. It was amazing to say the least. People from all over the world all having a good time around the camp fire in the Sahara. The Berber nomads encouraged every one to join in, all while having an even better time themselves. We danced and sang the night away, with drums and even a guitar for Thanecha. When our turn to sing a song came up, we rapped the fresh prince of Bellair, naturally. All the English speakers joined in about a story all about how my life got twisted upside down.... We told jokes and riddles again, under the stars that seemed to be so bright that they could cast shadows. We partied the night away, having the time our of lives. Not your typical Christmas, but definitely one to remember.

      You can read more about our Moroccan experience by visiting our blog : http://www.marcuscoania.com/blog/

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    • Good budget hotel

      Marrakesh Mar 27, 2015 at 1:38 AM

      Can you tell me of a well placed clean budget hotel just for breakfast. I have found Ryad Mogador at bab doukkala very good as it's twixt gueliz and la place - jemma el fyna. Please not a hotel/riad in Medina as it's scary at 4am in the dark.

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    • budget hotel

      Marrakesh Mar 27, 2015 at 8:24 AM

      Does anyone know a clean budget hotel like Ryad mogador at bab doukkala. Just for nice breakfast. It must be placed safely for late night returning and not in the spooky Medina.i say bab doukala because its twixt guelis and la place jemma el fynaa.

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    • Marrakesh to Chefchaouen (Blue City)

      Marrakesh Mar 11, 2015 at 5:48 AM

      Hi, Does anyone know the easiest and cheapest way to get from Marrakesh to Chefchaouen? preferably if there is a night bus and if so how much?

      Thanks!

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    • Grazia54's Profile Photo

      Two old girls traveling to Morocco

      Morocco Mar 17, 2015 at 10:59 AM

      Hi, My friend and I would like to find a tour to Morocco, that's reliable, affordable, but on the nicer side... about 10-14 days.. the basic cities Fes, Marrakesh, Essaouira. A camel ride out to spend the night in the desert... tents with bathrooms would be nice... and a group that is on the smallish side, around16, max. We're mature women, so access to a good bed, good meals, and hot water would also be quite appreciated. I've heard of a few companies, but don't know anything about them. Anyone have suggestions for us? I'd like to hear from those of you who had a great tour and you'd recommend it to a friend.... Thanks in advance for all your tips & suggestions... Grazia54

       

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    • Money exchange

      Marrakesh Mar 1, 2015 at 4:15 PM

      I'm in London and will be headed for Marrakech soon. Can someone tell me the best place to get the dirham. I'm getting conflicting stories!

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    • csuresh's Profile Photo

      Marrakesh - query

      Marrakesh Mar 9, 2015 at 4:28 AM

      We have finalized our trip for next month having full 3 days in Marrakech. First day we want to visit part of the top 10 attractions that Google throws for Marrakech - Menara Gardens, Majorelle Garden, El Badi palace, Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech museum and around Jemma El fna. We will be using paper maps - any other tips. What is the best way to navigate from one place to another? Day 2 - we plan to use guided Atlas mountains and trip. Day 3 - we have a late night flight so have full day with us - is there any tours that one can recommend where we can spend around 5-6 hours including travel and visit? I will be travelling with my wife and 2 daughters aged 9 and 6. I have asked a general query earlier and with plans getting firm - wanted to goto next level to check-up

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    • abs87's Profile Photo

      General Advice Required!

      Morocco Mar 14, 2015 at 6:17 PM

      Hi all,

      Just looking on some advice and guidance on a trip I am planning for myself (28) and my mum (51) at the end of this year.
      As first time visit to Morocco I was wondering whether Casablanca is worth the visit? We were thinking of just visiting Marrakech and Fez, then heading up and taking the ferry to Spain... I am conflicted as to whether we should fly into London and take a cheaper flight to Morocco or just fly direct into Casablanca (which would be the more expensive option). We plan on visiting Spain and Italy also so any suggestions as to an itinerary around those destinations would be helpful, so many places to see its becoming slightly overwhelming picking just a few!

      Any tips on the best way to travel around Morocco would be great also, we are mainly looking at Air BnB accommodation and are happy to take trains/buses to get around and see more of the countryside

      Thanks for your help!
      abbie

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    • nice people

      Marrakesh Mar 15, 2015 at 12:05 PM

      Hello,I would like to meet some interesting mature local people,interested in culture,art and nature , next week in M.Any body know somebody there.??I can imagine a nice intercultural chat over a cup of mint tea.
      Thank you

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    • Romans in Morrocco

      by theferg Online Now Dec 4, 2011 at 10:34 AM

      I was told by a local that Sijilamassa was once a southern outpost of Rome and some of the ruins there are Roman . I also spent some time with a group of Tuareg who had camped near the ruins and one of the group who had been educated in the states and lived for a while in London also believed this. Is there any evidence to back the Roman presence?

      9 Answers Aug 2, 2012 at 12:20 AM