The one thing we realized we had to do when we were planning our Morocco trip was to visit, and sleep a couple of nights, in the Sahara Desert. After doing some research, we went with Top Desert. More on this later.
We started Day 1 with the driver picking us up at the Royal Mansour. Along the way, he stopped at various vistas and points of interest. On Day 1, we would be stopping for an overnight stay at Ait Benhaddou. The site of numerous films including Lawrence of Arabia and the Gladiator. From Marrakech, it was about a 4 hour driver. Our driver was fantastic and the long drive gave us some time to talk and learn about Morocco from a local!
Here are some sights.
Morocco is a beautiful country with lots of variation in the geography from cities to mountain regions and deserts. One thing I was so stunned to see was snow. If you go to Northern Africa during the winter, make sure you check the temperature. We definitely weren’t prepared for how cold it got especially at night!
We also stopped at an Argan Oil facility. Argan can only be found in Morocco and Algeria.
As we continued our journey, we continued to enjoy the sights of the Moroccan countryside.
We finally arrived at Ait Benhaddou and had lunch. I was glad to see something different on the menu – chicken kebaps. I was also excited to find harira soup which I had at breakfast and loved. Unfortunately, it did not compare to the one at the Royal Mansour, but the chicken was delicious.
After lunch we checked into our hotel – Hotel Riad Ksar Ighnda. Although the room was clean, we were given a cold, dark and small room in a weird part of the hotel outside of the main gates. The heater took a while to get going and it was freezing! If you stay here, make sure you request a nicer room inside the gates of the hotel.
After getting settled, our driver hooked us up with a local guide. The first thing we did was buy some head wraps which would later come in handy as protection from the cold, sun and sand. Then we proceeded to the village which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
I really loved walking around the town seeing the views, exploring the gorgeous alleyways and shops. We stopped by this local artist’s shop where he makes paintings using saffron and heat. We bought the second painting.
Here are more views of Ait Benhaddou. If you get an opportunity to go, I definitely recommend seeing it.
After returning to the hotel, we had an unremarkable dinner at their buffet which was part of the room, checked out the beautiful grounds and went to bed. “Day 2 – finally, the desert” post coming tomorrow.