Crossing the Moroccan Sahara is exhilarating - the Atlas mountains tinged mauve and amber. And the kasbahs are just wonder. The Tizi 'n Tichka, or Tichka Pass, is one of several notching the High Atlas Mountains south of Marrakesh. In a land blessed with splendid scenery, this lofty route into the Moroccan Sahara is as exhilarating as they come. We paused among Boutiques de Mineraux to admire the tortuous road wriggling through dun hills and glittering ravines - and slurpped some of the best cafe latte in Morocco.Across the Tichka there's a change in colour scheme, the mountains' southern flanks tinged mauve and amber. The south is renowned for its kasbahs, or ksour, large fortified homes or villages with crenellated towers. Built with pise or sun-dried mud-bricks, they are among Morocco's definitive sights.
The main road winds down the Imini Valley past stacked villages whose brilliant green fields are offset by stark cliffs and mountains. While Telouet has the history, Ait Benhaddou, a short detour near Ouarzazate, has the looks. It's a magnet for film crews, with movies such as Jesus of Nazareth, The Man Who Would Be King and Gladiator having, in part, been shot here. We stopped here for our lunch, again we were served with Couscous and Tangine (Jane & Lee-Anne, I know you will laugh). Across a shallow river rise a cluster of toffee-coloured ksour, their tapering towers etched with geometric patterns. The snow-tipped High Atlas fill the horizon. Unesco and even a few film companies have had a hand in restoration.
Beyond the ksour's walls and small fields of wheat, the river meanders through the broad valley and on to a scrubby emptiness. It drains into Lake El Mansour Eddahbi, which in turn feeds the Vallee du Draa, among the most fabled of Morocco's southern valleys. Despite droughts, depopulation and unemployment, traditional life endures. South-east of Ouarzazate and over the last ridges of the Anti-Atlas, the Vallee du Draa snakes all the way to Zagora and the first tentative dunes of the Sahara. When Moroccans speak of the green serpent they mean the Draa's ribbon of palms rather than reptiles. The main appeal of this route are the ksour lining the fertile valley. Tamnougalt, a few kilometres beyond Agdz, has some of the most atmospheric.
The road to Zagora, 90km south-east, is lined with slender oases of lush palmery (the local claimed that they produced the best dates in Morocco). Ksour, too, are plentiful, many set at the foot of mountains with surreal, swirling patterns. Among the hottest towns in Morocco, Zagora used to be a major staging post for caravans to Timbuktu. That old-world trade in salt, gold and slaves is long gone and hard to imagine now amidst the smart hotels.
Pengalaman menunggang unta bukanlah satu pengalaman yang menarik, terutama untuk kaum lelaki - sampai melecet dibuatnya kerana bergesel dengan bonggol unta, bukan aku sorang jer yang merungut, semua kaum Adam yang ikut serta juga merungut dan ada yang duduk bertenggek atau duduk senget, tersengeh2 sampai merah padam muka. Sambil tu sempat aku buat jokes supaya hilang rasa sakit. 2 jam tunggang unta baru sampai ke destinasi, di tengah2 padang pasir Sahara Morocco - cukup lega. Tercapai hasrat!!!!!