A Travellerspoint blog

Morocco

The Atlas Mountains and Pre-Saharan Plains (Morocco part II)

Stunning mountains and arid plains are perfect for movies... and books!


View Morocco 2008 on AC Frieden's travel map.

AIT BEN HADDOU, Morocco (Nov. 26, 2008) -- The journey began by leaving Marrakech at dawn and heading along route P31 towards the High Atlas and the pre-Saharan city of Ouarzazate some 200km east. Route P31 was completed in 1936 by the French Foreign Legion and passes by the full range of Atlas environments, from the Haouz plains, through the verdant foothills of the Oued Zat, to the barren peaks of the Atlas and the arid regions around Ouarzazate. The Tizi-n-Tichka mountain pass half way along the journey offers spectacular views of snow-covered peaks, but the mountain road is dangerous, with sharp turns, few safety barriers and steep drops, all of which is even more precarious during the drive back at night.

DSCF5202sm.jpg
Above: Dangerous curves and steep drops.

DSCN1618sm.jpg
Above: Heading to the mountain pass.

FH000014sm.jpg
Above/below: Driving up the Tizi-n-Tichka mountain pass at an altitude of 7200 feet.

DSCN1639sm.jpg

DSCN1653sm.jpg
Above: A small mosque near the village of Aguim.

AIT BEN HADDOU
The village of Ait Ben Haddou is a ksar (a community of earthen buildings surrounded by high walls) along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. It is situated in Souss-Massa-Draa on a hill along the Ouarzazate River and has been used for filming scenes in various movies, including the Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Most of the town's inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river, though a few still endure a more traditional life in the ksar. Ait Ben Haddou has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

DSCF5243sm.jpg
Above/below: Standing by and crossing the rather dry bed of the Ouarzazat River.

DSCF5274sm.jpg

DSCF5269sm.jpg
Above: Climbing the narrow alleys and footpaths of Ait Ben Haddou.

FH000018sm.jpg
Above: Resting at the top of the hill overlooking the village, plains and two valleys.

DSCF5231sm.jpg
Above: Camels for hire.

DSCN1689sm.jpg
Above: Heading toward the pre-Saharan city of Ouarzazat.

OUARZAZATE
Ouarzazate is located about 200 km east of Marrakech and borders the Al Mansour lake. Its name comes from a Berber phrase meaning "without noise", and the city has long been a crossing point for African traders seeking to reach northern Morocco and Europe. Ouarzazate is also home to the famous Kasbah of Taourirt. The nearby Atlas Corporation Studios and have been used as sites for filming many films, including Pope Joan (to be released 2009), Prisoner of the Sun (2008), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Astérix & Obélix (2002), Gladiator (2000), The Mummy (1999), Kundun (1997), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Living Daylights (1987), The Jewel of the Nile (1985), and Lawrence of Arabia (1962), among others. Could there one day be a movie made here based on one of my novels?? Okay, okay, maybe I'm dreaming...

DSCN1704sm.jpg
Above: The Kasbah of Touirirt in the old quarter of Ouarzazat.

For the first part of my Morocco journey, click here.

Posted by AC Frieden 16:13 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

Marrakech: A Mystical City (Morocco part I)

This city is a perfect setting to spice up a mystery novel.


View Morocco 2008 & France 2008 on AC Frieden's travel map.

MARRAKECH, Morocco (Nov. 24-27, 2008) -- I arrived in Marrakech from Paris and was instantly seduced by the city's charm, its history, its pleasant weather and the friendly people who call this magical place home. These are the photos that capture some of the city's flavor. My goal was to find scenes for a crime novel that I am writing, as well as scenes and settings for an anthology contribution (also a mystery). So unlike many of the places I've visited over the past year, I arrived with a clean slate, no existing chapter that needed to be tweaked by the in-person visit. This was all about gathering the environment and writing something from scratch.

DSCN1414cp2sm.jpg
Above: Aerial view of the Medina from my plane (which did one missed approached before landing).

DSCN1427sm.jpg
Above: The ancient walls around the Medina.

DSCN1472sm.jpg
Above: One of the gates into the Medina.

THE MEDINA, THE SOUKS AND THE JEMAA EL FNA

DSCN1436sm.jpg
Above: The alleys of the Medina are tight and busy.

DSCN1447sm.jpg

DSCF5086sm.jpg
Above/below: The vast Jemaa El Fna square.

DSCF5106cp2sm.jpg

DSCF5100cpsm.jpg
Above: Snake charmers in the Jemaa El Fna.

DSCF5118sm.jpg
Above: Selling olives, nuts and dates.

DSCN1582sm.jpg
Above: Horses waiting for tourists.

RIAD CAMILIA (where I stayed)

This was a spacious, magical residence of just four rooms, managed by an efficient French expatriot. It served as an excellent "HQ" for the day-long journeys to explore the city and region.

FH000001-1sm.jpg

DSCN1442sm.jpg

THE BADII PALACE
[text coming soon]

DSCN1575sm.jpg

FH000011revsm.jpg

DSCN1554revsmbw.jpg

FH000009sm.jpg

DSCN1478sm.jpg
Above: The Royal Palace is close to the Badii Palace, and is heavily guarded (no photos...oops!)

THE MADERSA MOSQUE
[text coming soon]

FH000012sm.jpg

DSCN1597bwsm.jpg

THE KOUTOUBIA MOSQUE
[text coming soon]

DSCN1466sm.jpg
Above: The Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech's most famous landmark.

DSCF5094sm.jpg
Above: The Koutoubia Mosque at sunset.

MODERN MARRAKECH

DSCN1484sm.jpg

----- Travel Essentials Summary (and ratings) -----

Posted by AC Frieden 13:07 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]