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The Excavation at Aghmat, Morocco’s Medieval Capital

Posted by Alecia Cohen on December 23, 2012 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)

 

The Medieval  site  of Aghmat can be found beside the modern village of Ghmat which is 30 km south east of Marrakech in the northern foothills of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Professor Ron Messier, Professor Emeritus Middle Tenessee State University and Senior Lecturer in history at Vanderbilt University and his codirector Professor Abdallah Fili faculte des letters Universite d’El Jadida have been following a trail of gold a it was part of the camel caravan routes from sub-Saharan Africa through the ancient city of Sijilmassa which Ron Messier’s team excavated through to Morocco’s Medieval Capital, Aghmat. Coins minted in Sijilmassa have been  found in  an excavation in Jordan and Aghmat too minted coins for the Almoharavid empire which stretched into Spain. The international archaeological program has been studying Aghmat Since June 2005 Medieval texts suggest  that Aghmat existed before advent of Islam in the 7th Century. It flourished under the Idrissids  in the 8th and 9th centuries and attained the rank of an Amazight city state in the late 10th Century. It became a capital under the Almoravid dynasty from 1056 to 1070 when the Almoravids moved their capital to Marrakech. Aghmat  gradually declined in competition to Marrakech. It was an important city for routes through the Atlas Mountains on the trans Saharan trade and attracted scholars from Ifriqiyya (Tunisia) and Andalusia. The site contains the tombs the Andalusian kings al-Mu’tamid ibn Abbad of Seville and Abdallah ibn Bulukhin of Granada. Zaynab Nafzawiyya settled in Aghmat married three successive rulers,the independent Maghrawa emir and the first two Almoravid emirs. Aghmat consisted of two towns Aghmat Ourika and Aghmat Haylana home to Bani Masmuda tribesmen. It was a rich city fully irrigated and minting gold currency for  the Almoravids.   

The archaeological excavations have  so far revealed a hammam , a palace and a mosque.the archaeological process of discovery is aided by modern equipment which can identify the ancient foundations which are now under ground. Ancient texts also describe the city providing valuable clues. The excavations have been conducted to ensure preservation as well as revealing what was buried beneath the surface. The hammam, the first structure to be excavated is remarkably well preserved and fragile areas have been supported whilst respecting the original integrity of the building and its original materials. When Aghmat declined and the hammam fell out of use it began a second life as a pottery and the excavation discovered the potter’s  wheel. The palace was a typical Andalusian palace of the 14th Century and at the end of the 2011 excavation  a separate level revealed occupation from the 9th -12th Century under the Almoravids when Aghmat was their capital. The mosque which was  definitively confirmed during the 2011 excavation was founded by Wattas ibn Kardus in 859AD. There were several phases to its construction. It was found to have a moveable minbar on wooden rails  the only other of its kind was found in the mosque at the ancient city of  Sijilmassa.The team also found an Islamic inscription from the Koran as they did in Sijilmassa. The inscription reads “God is the light of the heavens and the earth”

In April 2007 the Aghmat Foundation was founded by a group of patrons under the leadership of Moulay Abdellah Alaoui to provide financial support for further excavations and the construction of a museum for the artifacts that have been found and for conservation and preservations of the excavations.In 2009 a partnership agreement between the Aghmat Foundation and the Moroccan Ministryof Culture which delegates to the Foundation matters of managing archaeological research, conservation and protection of the excavated remains and  the opening of the site to the public. It is easy to visit the site of Aghmat close to the village of Ghmat and the archeological work is a testimony to the close cooperation between the Moroccan Ministry Culture and The United States. Excavation work continues each season and Professor Messier is working hard to achieve more sponsorship to support the continuing  discovery process,  which is more difficult since 2008  during the current economic downturn.

For more information about the Excavation at Aghmat, Marrakech Morocco or a Marrakech Tour 

For More Information About Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Trekking in the Atlas Mountains and Kasbah Toubkal, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on November 5, 2012 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (1)

Trekking and climbing in the Atlas Mountains and Toubkal National Park is increasingly popular,catering for all levels of fitness and available for  short trips or extended treks over a period of several days.It is an opportunity to see the Atlas mountains and its people, it is by far the most beautiful of Morocco's diverse countryside, still largely unchanged from the time when it was remote and cut off from the ouside world. Walking holidays in the Atlas mountains often feature climbingf Jebel Toubkal, at 4,165m, the highest mountain in North Africa. This does not require expert mountaineering skills but does require a higher level of fitness and  care should be taken when weather conditions turn difficult.The ascent during the end of the winter and spring (February/March) is more difficult. Crampons  are necessary to ascend through the snow and ice. Mount Toubkal can be climbedin two days, first day up to the refuge (around seven hours without mules), second day to the summit (around five hours) and back to Imlil (up to five hours). you can of course take longer.

Just up from Imilil is the Kasbah Toubkal which can be reached on foot or by mule. It is in an iydillic setting surrounded by moutains and with a view of Mount Toubkal. Hollywood movie director, Martin Scorsese, found it an ideal location for Kundun his film about the Dalai Lama, when it was temporarily converted into a Tibetan monastery. The view from the terrace of Kasbah Toubkal is stunning surrounded by the mountain scenery and the silence. The Kasbah Toubkal in its current form was recreated by Chris and Mike McHugo from the original rundown Kasbah owned by the local caid. Local workers from Imlil and surrounding villages built the Kasbah into an hotel   with fourteen rooms with ensuite bathrooms, including a three-bedroom family house and separate Berber Salons, which although can be used on a dormitory basisfor groups. there is a conference centre for study groups. The rooms simple yet comfortable, with berber  hand-woven carpets, blankets, intricate carved woodwork and traitional wooden ceilings. The Kasbah is an ideal base for climbing Mount Toubkal and trekking in the area. There is also a hamam to relax in after a hard day's trek.The Kasbah and its local staff who run it provide an excellent introduction into Berber culture and local life. Guides for climbing and trekking are available and they provide you with a metal stick with a spike at the end which helps as you climb the steep slopes and rocky ground of the valleys. The Kasbah also has  the Azzaden trekking lodge,  a remote location on the outskirts of Ait Aissa in the heart of the High Atlas Mountains. It is close to a traditional village and has  solar-powered underfloor heating and spectacular views a day’s walk away.

Kasbah Toubkal has become increasingly popular so they havedeveloped alternative accommodation at Dar Imlil which is five minutes from the centre of Imlil. It has 4 standard double ensuite rooms and 6 double/twin de luxe rooms. Kasbah Toubkal is very much at the centre of local life contributing to schools and education forlocal women. ithas won numerous awards for sustainable and environmental tourism , involving the local community in all its activities and provding eemployment for the local community. italso plays an important role for raising funds for local education and child welfare. Many groups climb Mount Toubkal to raise sponsorship for charities . The Kasbah Toubkal is also involved in promoting sporting activities such as cycling and mountain biking which are increasingly popularinthe Toubkal National Park. There are guides and mules available   in Imlil the village which is the gateway to Mount Toubkal and the Toubkal National Park . Sturdy boots and warm clothing are essential. There are two stone-built refuges (old Neltner Refuge and new Refuge du Toubkal) that are often used as base camp at 3,207 m (10,522 ft).

There  a wide range of trekking holidays available in Morocco such as the desert range of the Jebel Sahro in the south, the best area for trekking in winter along with the Anti Atlas. The Central Atlas is home to Morocco's second highest peak, Jebel Mgoun.Walking  through the  Atlas mountains from Mgoun to Toubkal, passing through rarely trekked areas, many tiny villages and across high plateau  and ancient and discovering ancient rock carvings in the Toubkal National Park is an unforgetable experience.

Written by, Colin Kilkelly

For more information about a Toubkal National Park or a Tour to High Atlas Toubkal

For More Information About Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Morocco's Tin Mal Mosque and the Gandoufa Valley,Your Morocco Tour Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on October 20, 2012 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (1)

Tin Mal is 100 kms from Marrakech  just past the village of Ijoukak on the road to Taroudant in the High Atlas Mountains. It was the spiritual home of the Almohads, who went on to  conquer Marrakech defeating the ruling Almoravids and then creating an empire that stretched  from all of what we know as the Maghreb, southern Portugal and Spain and part of Africa. It began when Ibn Toumert of the Masmoudi tribe established the mosque at Tin Mal with a fortified town, called a ribat, in 1122. He proclaimed himself the Mahdi and established a strict and puritanical rule over his followers. All you see today is the imposing mosque which was rebuilt by Ibn Toumert’s successor, Abd el Mumin who went on to take Marrakech in 1148. It has been recently restored. It is one of only two mosques that non muslims can enter in Morocco, the other being the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.

The mosque is high up in a striking position over looking the river N’Fis andbears witness to the fervour of the Almohads with high walls and strong towers. It has been recently renovated and is one of the most memorable sites of historical significance in Morocco. There is a small museum housing architectural fragments. The mosque maybe closed on Fridays when the villagers of Tin Mal come to pray. In former times the mosque would have covered in white plaster and true to its founder’s puritanical ideals is free from the decorative features  normally found in Moroccan mosques. The prototype for Tin Mal was the Great Mosque at Taza (near Fès), also built by Abd el Mumin. The Koutoubia at Marrakech  (the Almohad capital as of 114 was in turn modelled on it. Tin Mal was the starting point of the Almohad dynasty which lasted till 1269. In 1276 the Merinds stormed Tin Mal leaving only the mosque standing killing the entire population. It remained the heartland of the Almohads and its rulers would come in pilgrimage to visit the tombs of their predecessors and pray at the mosque. It is a place to soak up the atmosphere of a movement and dynasty which saw the beginning of the Morocco we know today.

Further on from Ijoukak,Tagountafte, Souk Lara and Ikhfe N'Boul is the remains of the kasbah of the once-powerful caid of the Goundafa  tribe. The Gandoufa vied with the Glaoua and the M’Touga tribes for control of the Atlas Mountains at the end of the 19th century. The Gandoufa Kasbahs  which are now in ruins controlled the entry to the valley. Si Taieb Gandoufa succeded as caid in 1883 and fought other tribes with his army of 5,000 tribes men to increase his territory. In 1906 rival tribes plundered the N’fis valley and burned his Kasbah , Talat –n-Yakoub, whilst the caid was away in Fes. However in 1912 the Kasbahs of Azemmour and Aguergour were returned to him and the French gave him money and weapons to conquer the Sous valley. He captured Taraoudannt  in 1913 amd was appointed Pasha of Tiznit. He retired to his mountain kasbahs in 1924 where he died at the age of 65. The French left it to leaders like Si Taieb Gandoufa and Thami al Glaoui Pasha of Marrakech to secure the south of Morocco during the protectorate and the ruins of their Kasbahs are their memorial and the relics of the last bastions of feudalism in Morocco.

For more information about visiting Tin Mal & The Gandoufa Valley Marrakech

For More Information About Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Ziplining at Terres D'Amanar, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on May 3, 2012 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Ziplining at Terres D'Amanar Terres D'Amanar is a stunning estate located at the foothills of  Morocco's Atlas Mountains, just 30 minutes outside of Marrakech. Terres D'Amanar abuts the pristine forests of Toubkal National Park. Ziplining at Terres D'Amanar is one of the many activities that can be done during a Marrakech Tour extension or during a Morocco Tour. The Terres d'Amanar estate is a grand example of  ecotourism in Morocco done at its best. Terres d'Amanar is suitable for families, couples and groups.

Some of the activities offered on an extended Marrakech Tour by Terres D'Amanar are Zip-lining across Terres d'Amanar's famous 700-foot gorge, Tree-to-tree zip-lining at the tree-top adventure park and Mountain biking through the Atlas foothills. At Terres D'Amanar Morocco adventure travelers can also cross the Tyrol suspension and tight-rope bridges, hike and trek on foot, horse or mule, participate in Berber bowling, archery, falconry and polo on mule-back. To top this off Terres D'Amanar offers Berber weaving demonstrations along with Moroccan cuisine and tea-making workshops.

On a Morocco Terres D'Amanar  can easily be incorporated as a one or two day excursion from Marrakech as they offer an  outdoor guest house that sprawls across its property guaranteeing accommodation in a quiet and serene atmosphere. The food at Terres D'Amanar is prepared by Berber women from neighboring Douars.

One of Terres D'Amanar's key highlights is that is is a project designed in partnership with local Moroccans. The staff at Terres D'Amanar are locals from surrounding villages and the project itself supports over 150 Moroccan families. If you're looking for a place to participate in adventure activities in Morocco that has a fair trade motto then Terres D'Amanar is the place to be.

For more information about Terres D'Amanar on a Marrakech Tour For More Information About Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Morocco's Kasbah Telouet, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on January 29, 2012 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Kasbah Telouet is one of Morocco’s most impressive Kasbahs. Most travelers who visit Kasbah Telouet opt to see it when en route to the Ouarzazate. The village of Telouet and this renowned Kasbah can be reached by Moroccan piste. Kasbah Telouet also makes for an excellent one-day excursion from Marrakech.Located along the former route of the caravans in Morocco’s High Atlas Kasbah Telouet is just twenty minutes from the Tizin-Tichka-Pass.  

Kasbah Telouet has a rich history that is intertwined with the French. It is located in a fertile valley surrounded by palm, fig and olive trees. The Kasbah stands alone with its original zellij tile decorated with the Jewish Star of David, preserved silks and grand remnants of the El Pacha Glaoui family. The Kasbah's painted wooden ceiling and low level corridors within the interior of the Kasbah lead to two well preserved Andalusian style reception rooms. These rooms are engraved with stuccowork and colorful zellij. To visit Kasbah Telout is see one of Morocco’s hidden jewels. It lies at an elevation of 1,800 meters and lays claim to magnificent views that overlook the Berber village of Telouet. Unlike the other Kasbahs in Southern Morocco, Kasbah Telout was occupied by the Glaoui family instead of being used for slaves or only as a fortress. Kasbah Telouet has yet to be coined a UNESCO World Heritage site. While it appears in parts to be in ruins on the exterior, its interior Kasbah Telouet is one of true splendor.

For the adventurous traveler Kabash Telouet and the Berber village surrounding it can also be reached on a journey that starts in Ouarzazate and takes one through the majestic Ounila Valley. The Ounila Valley offers a scenic drive and is full of geologic history. The Ounila Valley gives insight into what flora, fauna and fossils existed in Morocco centuries ago. The changing colors and variation of the Ounila Valley in spring and fall also make it the perfect region for those traveling to Morocco to photograph scenery. Rest assured that when planning a trip to Morocco or Morocco’s Sahara Desert that Kasbah Telouet is one historic site not to be missed.

For more information about Kasbah Telouet & The High Atlas Tichka

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration in the USA at 1 (800) 787-8806 or in Morocco 1 (212)618-88-26-81 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.  

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Chefchaouen, Holidays in the Rif Mountains of Morocco, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on August 19, 2010 at 1:41 AM Comments comments (1)

]Woman Walking in Chefchaouen


Isolated in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is one of Morocco’s hidden treasures. Chefchaouen is situated in the Rif Mountains, just inland from Tangier and Tetouan making it the perfect Rif Mountain holiday adventure. The city was founded in 1471, as a small fortress which still exists to this day, by Moorish exiles from Spain ed by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Radhed El Alami to fight the Portuguese invasions of northern Morocco. Chefchaouen was known as one of the main concentrations of Moriscos and Jews who sought refuge in this mountainous city after the Spanish Reconquista in medieval times.


Chefchaouen at Sunset


This small mountain village sweeps you away into a state of calm with its color scheme that embraces every imaginable shade of blue and is the perfect place to spend a holiday in the Rif Mountains. Bold splashes of cobalt, turquoise, teal, white and starlit blue surround each corner and cobbled alley. Dreamlike and peaceful during the day this blue and white washed city has breathtaking sunsets and offers up a variety of charming Riads, outdoor restaurants with views of the Rif Mountains and is the perfect two or three day excursion from Tangier or Fes.


Chefchaouen Rif Mountain View 


Chefchaouen offers plenty of time to explore its laid-back Medina (old city), drink mint tea or freshly squeezed orange juice, and watch the world go by from one of the cafes in the main square.  Chefchaouen is also a great place for long walks, treks and hikes. Trekking in the Rif Mountains is different then trekking in the High Atlas Mountains of Toukbal for example because the altitudes are lower in the Rif and the mountain ranges tend to be longer and wider with less steep, making it accessible for Moroccan travelers of all ages.


Kasbah in Chefchaouen 


Must-see destinations include the Central Mosque and the wonderful Kasbah in Chefchaouen, built by the legendary ruler Moulay Ismail near Place Outa el Hammam in the early 18th century. The Kasbah encloses a quiet garden and houses a small museum of ancient pottery and photographs of the traditional dress of Berber tribes. 

Although this lovely haven of Chefchaouen is located just a couple hundred kilometers from the European border, until 1920 Chefchaouen received only three European guests. It was founded in the 15th century and populated by Jewish and Muslim refugees from the Inquisition in Spain and remained an isolated city until the early 20th century.


Chefchaouen Arched Doorway


Chefchaouen has preserved a way of life that flourished in Moorish Spain more than 500 years ago. While the locals are far more reserved then those in larger cities, they are quite friendly and warm. Chefchaouen is one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco, and the weed is sold all over town. It is essentially legal and smoked by many of the locals, which helps account for this village’s slow pace. It is an intrinsic part of the city life and sold together with herbs, spices and vegetables in the local markets.  


Colored Pigment for Sale In Winding Streets of Chaouen


During a four-day trip from Fes Moroccan travelers explore the Medina in great detail. The entire Medina comes alive in the evening when everybody is shopping or selling goods in the narrow winding streets. On a leisurely stroll throughout the Medina the first thing that can catch anyone’s eyes are the man selling pigment in shades of blue, yellow, pink and orange. The pigment is the same that is used on the walls of the city. There are shoe cobblers hand making the white and yellow fine leather pointed slippers  (baboosh) worn by the locals along with many beautiful jalabbas sewn with finely embroidered seams and carpenters carving tables and chairs made of fragrant cedar wood. Also available are beautifully hand painted crafts in Chefchaouen such as mirrors with inlaid flowers and a wide variety of furniture displaying delicate Islamic designs. 

One of the most intimate things to do in Chefchaouen is to drop in on a local Berber weaver at his loom and watch while he produces a local style of red and white blankets. R

]Chefchaouen Wash Basin For Women, Reminiscent Japanese Rock Garden


If Moroccan travelers continue their exploration to the bottom of the hill in Chefchaouen, they will find women washing laundry in an area that resembles a Japanese garden filled with a variety of stones as well as miniature white open structures surrounded by a number of wide stairs that leads to a dam. 

For a panoramic view, you can hike to the top of Chefchaouen and, as you glide along the small streets, peer downward in search of the stone-carved Hand of Fatima that seems to reappear again and again throughout this blue city.


For more information about traveling to Chefchaouen

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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A Nomads Destiny, Traveling In Bouthgrar & Mount Mgoun Morocco?s Valley of Nomads, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on August 3, 2010 at 1:27 AM Comments comments (0)


Tichka-Pass-Ouarzazate-Marrakech 3


The weather is very cold, almost frigid at times and the sun shines back lit against Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, which are covered by snow. Each peak tells a different story of a Nomad family who once climbed across it, stretching their journey from top to bottom, baking bread by fire, making tea at sunrise and sleeping under the stars in a bivouac, wool tent. These stories are forever, unchanged for centuries as is the way of life lived by the Nomads in Bouthgrar. They share their culture with guests who visit and those of us who live nearby, quietly inviting all into their caves, graciously serving up mint tea in their spotless shining glasses; made in china…. as we, westerners look across the vast landscape and wonder how and why.


How and why would you be a Nomad? What is your destiny? Why do you stay? Do you know what exists outside your great, vast cool land? Does the hot sun and the cold country wear you down and what lies behind your shy gaze?


Nomad-Boy-in-Bouthgrar-Valley of Nomads


As I drove through the Tickha Pass a couple days ago, returning home to Ouarzazate from Marrakech, these thoughts kept fleeting across my mind. Having spent several days this past month in the Valley of Nomads, Bouthgrar, and with our Nomad friends Mohamed and family, it was their faces that continued to reappear in the morning light, alike miniatures in a dream. This holiday season Travel Exploration Moroccohad the good fortune of hosting tours to Americans, Europeans and Swiss guests. While we could not participate on every tour, I at least had the good luck of meeting them all.


Alecia in Tickha Pass


Each guest and family had a different story about his or her adventure in the Sahara and in Mount Mgoun, with the first statement beginning with, “I never knew this part of Morocco existed nor did I realize that it was so beautiful.” They all made a point of telling me personally how moved they were to have visited our family for lunch in Ait Ouzzine (N’kob) village, receiving henna painted on their hands, to have driven across the pistes in the Sahara, trekked on a camel, traveled the Dades Valley pins, witnessed one-thousand ancient Kasbahs in Skoura palmary and to see this all juxtaposed against a rugged landscape.



Dades-Valley-Pins


What seemed to be magnified most and expressed to me by each of our visitors was the kindness and generosity of our local guides, drivers and the Nomad families they met Bouthgrar. It is deeply meaningful to be able to share the South I have fallen in love with again and again with others through Travel Exploration Morocco’s tailor-made tours. The “Real Morocco” often gets lost awash the big Imperial cities and their architectural grandeur. The cross-pollination of French- Morocco in Marrakech, an ever expanding International Casablanca and the heart of Morocco’s intellectual and artistic capital of Fes never seem to escape the push of travel agencies and the tourism board.


For me, I embrace it ALL, appreciating each city for what it has to offer. However it is the region of Ouarzazate that has slowly grown on me when I was not looking and its’ branches continue to sprawl leaving me tongue-tied at times. What lies beneath Morocco’s fascinating and magnificent Imperial cities is the most majestic place, a natural Morocco that colors ones vision with burnt orange backdrops and golden desert scenery. Each time I step outside my home in this Saharan, dusty desert town where I live, its breathtaking landscape and sunlight accost my heart and suffocate me with happiness. The people walk in peace side by side and a handshake along with a smile tells one thousand words. I am finally feeling comfortable with my sketchy use of the Berber language and the locals know who I am when I arrive in the market place and stroll the streets alone.


New friends from England and France are finding me to an extend invitations for a meal, a visit and a new conversation. It is a time for friendship. And to witness this beauty is to have discovered a great secret from god. When someone asks my beliefs here, I shy away. To live among nature is to be all, a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, a Catholic, a Buddhist, an Atheist. I have said a million times, if there is a god, the spirit of it is sure to be found in the Sahara.


M'hamid-Sahara-Desert


To sleep, in Ouarzazate is to fall into a deep, dream and be carried away across the dunes. I have never slept so well in 38 years but here when I shut my eyes, they close tight and in my rem-state of sleep, I am surrounded by the smells of exotic spices, the musty souk and most of all the locally made Berber perfume from saffron, musk and tree bark. I had the good fortune of spending a full seven hours in the Tickha Mountains this week.


Our drive, in spring, summer and fall that would take only 4 1/2 hours took much longer. We were held-up as were all of the cars that ventured across our great mountain in the midst of winter. After a hearty lunch in the High Atlas Mountains of Tadart, we muddled along and were stopped in rows, one vehicle after another for what seemed like days. I reveled in the passing of time slowly, as it does in Morocco.


Thus, I saw a great opportunity to photograph the Tiz N’ Tichka Pass as it carried us through its varying altitudes. My heart missed a beat a couple times when I stepped down from our 4×4 to capture the snow capped mountains with my camera and a charge that had already moved past the red mark, signifying no battery life. Somehow once again Morocco gave back to me more then I gave to her. I managed to take some photographs that I can marvel at when I see them, a memory of a day, an hour, a moment in time lost within the Tiz N’ Tichka Pass.


The photos boast serene blue haze that is complimented by beaming, tiny car lights and the last seconds of the sun setting. I am finally settled back in Ouarzazate again for just a week. There is always new venture around the corner here. I shall take the road to Marrakech on Sunday or Monday to meet up with Hossaine, who is just completing a sixteen-day tour circuit. We will have the pleasure of meeting our friends from England, Sarah and Sean who bon chance we met in Essaouira this past November. We are plotting a BEAD TOUR across Morocco!


Office- Spare Bedroom Fabric for Drapes & Moroccan Couches

 

Having enjoyed this weeks’ Sunday souk and coming away with a magenta and peach imported Spanish blanket, a royal blue and gold silk scarf plus mounds of vegetables for just under $40.00, I will finally dip into making headway with the marvelous embroidered fabrics I have purchased that lay beside me here. It is now time to create the healing home and I from the things I have collected during our journey during the past months. Holiday season in the Maghreb, Morocco – The place to Travel and Make Your Home, Even if for Only a Week.


For a complete more information on Morocco’s Valley of Nomads & Visiting the Bouthgrar, Mount Mgoun Region For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert, Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate.


Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.


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