Todra Gorge(ous) and Aït Ben Haddou

The past two days are better told in photos than in words. Wednesday morning, we packed up camp and rode our camels back to mainland while the sun was rising. We said goodbye to a Said, ate breakfast at the hotel where we had stored our luggage, then headed out to the road once more.

We spent the rest of the day traveling to Todra Gorge, a mountainous region in southern Morocco known for its massive gorges. When we arrived at the hotel , we got settled in then headed out for a walk in a nearby forest, which was actually a fruit farm. Our guide showed us pomegranate trees, almond trees, fig tress, walnut trees and many more, and we got to try everything! It was like walking through Willy Wonka’s factory. Yum.

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Our walk ended with a visit to a carpet workshop, a small house where a cooperative functioned. We watched a demonstration on how carpets are woven and how different plants and minerals are used to dye the eucalyptus silk and camel wool. A few of us bought carpets, which were overpriced but still a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

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Then we headed to the gorges to have a look around. The huge rock walls were absolutely gorgeous, towering over us and making each of us feel minuscule.

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After about half an hour at the gorges, we headed back to the hotel. This hotel had a beautiful outdoor patio overlooking a massive gorge wall. We dipped in the pool and later had a filling latern-lit dinner in the gazebo. It was a quit and peaceful night, most us us heading to bed soon after dinner.

The next morning, we left at 9 a.m. to head to our next stop, Ait Ben Haddou. It was another travel-heavy day, though we made several stops at overlooks to take photos.
The restaurant where we stopped for lunch was overpriced but rightfully so because the setting was stunning. We sat on a rooftop patio with a view over the small city. The food was not very good (the veggies weren’t fresh, meat overcooked, and the bread stale) but the heavenly view made it a great place to grab a bite.

Lunch was followed with a trip to a local spice shop. A Moroccan spice doctor (ha, I completely made that term up. I guess the better term in herbologist? ) showed us the uses and benefits and many Moroccan herbs. We sat in a small room filled with shelves of spices and oils.

The spice doctor also demonstrated the uses if Moroccan oils, from oil with orange blossom extract to the classic Moroccan Argan oil. I volunteered to be the guinea pig for the massage oil and natural make-up demonstrations, and got a free massage and a makeover out of it! We all left the spice shop feeling and smelling great.

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Our last stop of the day was at our hotel in Ait Ben Haddou. It was late afternoon and we had some time before dinner, so a group of us and our guide set out for a walk to a nearby kasbah.

Little did I know, the uninhabited kasbah was actually a famous filming location. Apparently, Gladiator, Game of Thrones, and other successful movies and shows have used the deserted structure for an ideal background. When we were there, there was even a filming for a French movie called Aladin. The was a small village on a hill, completely formed of mud and clay. The alleys were narrow and winding and were paved with cobblestone. For lack of a better word, it was just really cool.

We climbed to the top of the kasbah and looked out over the incredible landscape. I know I’ve said a million times that this country is truly beautiful, but I’ll say it again because I cannot convey that enough. And on that note, I’ll leave you with pictures, because I’m out of words for the day.

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