Roadtrip through mountains and deserts

Morocco is the most westerly country of North Africa. It is a large and diverse country at which plenty of natural beauties can be found. Some of them include: waterfalls, mountains, the desert, wild animals and many more. That is the reason why my brother and I visited Morocco for a road trip between the 24th of December 2018 and the 5th of January 2019. That means we also celebrated new year’s eve in Morocco.

I am also going to upload a video to YouTube, which will be uploaded soon!

Day 1 – Brussels to Tanger

Brussels airport was the cheapest airport for us to fly from to Tanger airport. The distance between Schiphol airport and Brussels airport from our home is negligible. Our flight was scheduled for 12:45 but got delayed by 4 hours. As such our plane departed at 16:40. We touched down at 19:35 at which it was pitch black outside. Luckily there was still someone at the Hertz desk where we had to pick up our rental car. It was a Peugeot 208.

Our rental car for the road trip

Our first hotel was on the outskirt of the medina in Tanger. (A medina is the old centrum of a city. A medina distinguishes itself by its number of small streets and many small shops.) We had to cross the medina with our rental car to park the car at the hotel. It was a nerve wrecking path through small streets. We made it to the parking spot without a scratch on the car. We checked in to our room which was on the second floor of the old hotel. Once settled we decided to walk around in the medina and gather the necessary drinking water and snacks for tonight and tomorrow. We went to bed early as we must drive a fair distance tomorrow.

Day 2 – Tanger to Chefchaouen

Total distance driven today: 112 kilometres

We woke up to our alarm clock after which we walked to the restaurant at which we ate breakfast provided by the hotel. We ate and drank our belly’s full of pancake’s, chocolate rolls, coffee and fresh jus d’orange. We walked around in the medina once more after which we checked out and started our journey to Chefchaouen. On our way to Chefchaouen we stopped at a blue lake called “Barrage Ennakhla”

Blue lake “Barrage Ennakhla”

After taking a couple of pictures of the lake we drove further. Not much later we arrived in Chefchaouen. Finding a parking spot in the village was not that easy as there were quite a lot of tourists. We also had to pay to park our car overnight in the street. Nonetheless we checked in and started wandering around the blue village. We found a round trip hike which passed a monastery and 2 mountain tops. We only walked to the monastery from where we had an amazing view over the blue village with the mossy green mountains in the background.

The blue city Chefchaouen, notice my shirt being blue aswell 😉

We drank a jus d’orange at a restaurant next to “Ras El Ma” which is a flowing stream that runs down from the mountains next to the village. From here you could walk straight to the small medina with blue streets and tiny shops. We arrived at a bigger street at which we found a few snack bars. From here we walked back to our hotel called “Dar Zman”. We relaxed a bit and around dinner time we returned to the street with snack bars. We both ordered a kebab plate which was delicious.

Day 3 – Chefchaouen to Azrou

Total distance driven today: 269 kilometres

We got 2 options today, first one being to drive to Azrou via Fes, the other option was to drive to Azrou via Meknès. As Fes is one of the bigger cities of Morocco, we decided to avoid Fes and drive via Meknès. Just before Meknès we stopped at “Volubilis Triumphal Arch” which are old ruins. After taking a few pictures at the ruins we drove into “Moulay Idriss Do Zerhoun” which is a small village located on the side of a hill. After looking around we drove further to Meknès. Meknès is one of the 4 kings’ cities which means that there are a few old buildings to visit. Unfortunately, it was so busy with traffic in Meknès that we didn’t even get the chance to park the car. With our heads down, we drove out of the city to arrive at “Paysage Itto” which had an amazing view over the lower Atlas Mountains.

We drove further to reach our destination for today, “Ferme d’ hôte la vallée” here was our bed for the night. The place looked like a Moroccan mansion with typical Moroccan interior. We ordered Couscous and a Tajine at the hotel which would take 2 hours to prepare. In the meantime, we decided to climb the nearby mountain which gave us a view over Meknès. It was a beautiful sight with the bright orange setting sun. Once we returned to the hotel it turned out they forgot to prepare our dinner, as such it took another 1,5 hours to prepare our dinner. Nonetheless it was delicious and our first evening with typical Moroccan food.

Day 4 – Azrou to Béni Mellal

Total distance driven today: 207 kilometres

Instead of taking the main road today we took a road inland which we didn’t regret! The road inland was more scenic than the main road. At one point it felt like we were at the middle of nowhere, we could only see mountains with bright green trees. On this road we saw wild donkeys and wild monkeys. The wild monkeys were on the middle of the road and ran away when we neared them.

Along the road was a waterfall named: “Oyoun oum rabii”. To visit this waterfall, we had to park our car at a small village at which people asked to pay for parking. We did so and started walking towards the waterfall. We didn’t see the waterfall at first because there were a ton a small houses build along the way to the waterfall. But at the end of the path we found the waterfall around the corner. It was a beautiful sight… orange rocks with white looking water and the green bushes on top of the rocks. We took a few pictures and asked a tourist to take a picture of me and my brother with the waterfall.

After spending some time at the waterfall, we drove further. We took a side road to visit “Lac Aguelmam Azigza” which is a lake between mountains. We expected to see a beautiful blue lake with a pristine environment. But nothing was less true. There was a lot of garbage laying around the entire lake which totally ruined the surroundings. We took a few pictures anyway. The last part of the road we took the toll road to Beni Mellal. Within Beni Mellal we went to “Château de Ain Asserdoun” which is a small castle on a hill overlooking the whole city. After enjoying the view, we went and checked in to our hotel, “Hôtel Benimellal Ouzoud”, the room didn’t look well cleaned but we had a bed for the night. We ate at the Burger King which was just around the corner to save a few coins.

“Château de Ain Asserdoun” with a view over Beni Mellal

Day 5 – Beni Mellal to Marrakesh

Total distance driven today: 200 kilometres

After we ate our breakfast provided by the hotel again, we started our journey to Marrakesh. We took another road inland which took us over and through a few parts of the Atlas Mountains. We also drove through a gorge with a river flowing through. We had to cross a small bridge to cross the river. Once on top of the mountain road after the bridge we could see a few mountains in the distance with a wide range of colours.

That is the way we came

Our first stop of the route was at “Cascades d’Ouzoud” which is known as a waterfall with wild monkeys being in the area. When we arrived at first the waterfall didn’t look that big. We were on top of the waterfall and walked all the way down to the bottom of the waterfall. Once at the bottom of the waterfall we realised that we waterfall is bigger than we initially thought. The sun was shining from the perfect direction which made the colours pop in the picture. It took us quite a while to get down to the waterfall. We found out later that there was a way quicker route to go up or down and took that path back up.

“Cascades d’Ouzoud” with the bright sun on the top right

On our way to Marrakesh we took the main road again which wasn’t special and to be honest a bit boring. When we neared Marrakesh the amount of traffic increased… The traffic was chaos in Marrakesh itself and it didn’t help that our Riad was in the middle of the Medina. We tried to drive through the medina with our car but that was just impossible because of the many people and narrow streets. We decided to park our car at a car park where we had to pay 100 Moroccan dirham which is around 10 euros. We had to walk 15 minutes from the parking spot to “Riad Rose Du Desert” where we got welcomed with mint tea. After checking in we walked around in the medina and finally ate at “Djemaa el-Fna” which is a big market square with a lot of stands to eat at. We had couscous with chicken and vegetables. Delicious!

Fresh jus d’orange at at market stand in Marrakesh

Day 6 – Marrakesh to Ouarzazate

Total distance driven today: 196 kilometres

Today we got up early as we are going to cross the Atlas Mountains. We ate our breakfast early and left Marrakesh. As it was early it wasn’t as chaotic driving around as yesterday. It was quite foggy, we hoped that the fog would clear up before we arrived at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. Luckily the fog cleared up and we could see the surroundings. On the road a traffic jam was created by a few trucks. As we were driving on a mountain road it’s a bit tricky to pass other cars. This combined with the road just being awful (no asphalt and a lot of bumps in the road) made the journey over the Atlas Mountains less pleasant than we hoped for. Even though it took longer than expected we managed to shoot a few great pictures, especially on the highest point of the pass.

The highest point of the Atlas Mountain pass

The road down was a lot of zigzagging, you could see the environment change as we went over the mountains. It was a lot dryer and less green on the other side of the mountain. We passed multiple oases on the way to Ouarzazate. We booked a room at “Riad Chay” in Ouarzazate. This riad was beautiful and only 9 months old. The people here were very friendly as well and helped us to plan our trip for the coming days. We had some time left today and checked out the “Atlas Film Studios” which is a film studio in a desert like area where movie sets are recorded for multiple ancient, desert-based stories.

We also brought a visit to the old Kasbah in Ouarzazate after which we searched for a restaurant to eat at. We found a restaurant which was so good and cheap we just had to give a tip. We went to bed early as tomorrow is one of our biggest distances of the road trip.

Day 7 – Ouarzazate to Merzouga

Total distance driven today: 368 kilometres

We got up early again to enjoy our breakfast early. As we must drive a long distance today, we decided to leave as early as possible. We also stopped as less as possible to arrive a bit early in Merzouga. The cities we passed on our way to Merzouga were way bigger than we expected. We thought that we only would ride through small villages on our way to Merzouga. The first stop we made was at “Dadès Gorges”. This is a gorge you could drive through with the car. We only went through a small part of the gorge. We took a rest at the restaurant on top of the road with a view on the gorge. We drank coffee and tea there and returned to the main road after taking a few pictures.

The view of the “Dadès Gorge” when you reached the top

The next stop we made was at “Todgha Gorge”. This gorge was smaller, and to my opinion less beautiful than the Dadès Gorge. It was way too crowded at this gorge to get a proper picture. We returned to the main road after the visit to the gorge.

The view within the “Todgha Gorge”

We started seeing more sand next to and on the road, and as we neared Merzouga we could see the sand dunes in the distance already. Once in Merzouga we checked in to our hotel “Kasbah Panorama Merzouga” which was on the best location in the surrounding area. The hotel was on a hill that allowed us to overlook the sand dunes and the city. We ordered a tajine at the hotel. They needed some time to prepare the tajine, in the meantime we arranged a quad for tomorrow for 1 hour. We have also got a camel ride for tomorrow in the sand dunes during sunset.

Day 8 – Celebrating new year in Merzouga

Today we had the possibility to sleep a little bit longer as we don’t have to drive today. We arranged the quad for 11:00 in the morning. We arrived early at the meeting point. We got offered mint tea before our ride, at 11:00 we got picked up to ride the quad. My brother was driving the quad as I was taking photos and record with my GoPro. We started slowly but started gaining speed when we arrived at the sand dunes. Finally, in the desert we could see the height of the dunes, and they are immense… they don’t look that high from a distance but when you are on them it is way higher than it looks. We could also look way in the distance and the only thing we could see was sand for miles. Riding the quad was really a thrill and got our blood pumping.

We returned to our hotel after the ride to clean up a bit after which we returned to the desert by foot. We both just wore our shoes which maybe wasn’t the best idea. My shoes totally filled up with sand, but we made the best pictures in the desert. We climbed quite big dunes and had a fun time.

Once returned in our hotel room again I started cleaning my shoes, I could make a sand castle out of the sand that got in my shoes. We rested a bit on the hotel room after which we headed out for our camel ride with the sunset. We did ride the camels for about 15 minutes. Then we enjoyed the sun setting behind the dunes. We took some great pictures and the guide also took some pictures of us. Then we returned from where we started with the camels. Once at the car it was pitch black in which we had to drove back to our hotel.

Camel ride between the desert dunes in Merzouga

Once at the hotel we choose to eat at the hotel again since yesterday’s dinner was delicious. We got a plate with a cold salad. We thought that this was our main course, but it was just the starter… it filled up good. Our main course was a tajine filled with chicken and bread. It was delicious! As a dessert we got a fruit mand with cookies. When the time turned 00:00 we celebrated new year with the other guests and the hotel crew. We only saw a little bit of firework outside which is way different than here in The Netherlands. The hotel crew made it a great evening with cake, bubbles and above all Berber music with a campfire! We went back to the hotel room at 01:45 and rushed into bed as we must drive almost 400 kilometres tomorrow.

Day 9 – Merzouga to Aït Ben Haddou

Total distance driven today: 396 kilometres

It was 396 kilometres to our next destination. We didn’t have much sleep as we got up at 07:00. We ate breakfast in the car to save a bit on time. Chocolate rolls and a banana. On our way we saw a sign which meant: watch out for camels. Funny enough a bit later we saw a few wild camels standing next to the road. We took a few pictures and went on.

Wild camels near merzouga

The road was often the same. Desert like surroundings with green bushes. Near much of the small villages we drove through there was an oasis to be found. It is so strange to see such a lot of green plants, bushes and trees while the environment is such dry. A little later we drove into the mountains where we passed a point called: “Tizi’n tinififft” from where you could overlook the brown, layered mountains.

We refuelled our car at Ouarzazate, the city we slept in 2 days ago. We also filled our tires with air. Turned out our front right tire was 1.4 bar… We made a good decision to fill up the tires. From Ouarzazate we drove straight to Aït Ben Haddou. We got shocked by the amount of tourist busses that were waiting before Aït Ben Haddou. Luckily our riad “Tamdakhte” was a bit away from Aït Ben Haddou. The Riad was great and had very friendly staff. We went to bed early as we have had a long day of driving.

Day 10 – Aït Ben Haddou to Marrakesh

Total distance driven today: 396 kilometres

Today we would drive over the Atlas Mountains again, but first we headed to Aït Ben Haddou to take a couple of pictures since it was early in the morning. That way we kind of avoided the crowds of tourists.

“Aït Ben Haddou” early in the morning

We took an inland road to the main road over the Atlas Mountains, the road was beautiful with a lot of small turns. On our way we saw a couple of villages that had the same exterior as Aït Ben Haddou. The road was a bit better over the mountains but still quite bumpy. As there was less traffic this time, we got the possibility to make more pictures than 4 days ago.

Once in Marrakesh we checked in to the same riad we went to 5 days ago. This time we slept in the second building the Riad own which was as good as the main building. We walked around in the Medina once more and ate at a snack bar. With our belly’s full we went back through the medina to our Riad.

Day 11 – Marrakesh to El Jadida

Total distance driven today: 308 kilometres

We drove to the west coast of Morocco today from which our journey is going northwards for the coming days. We made our first stop in Safe, close to “Ras Lafaa” at a restaurant at the top of a hill that overlooks the sea. We have been sitting there for a while enjoying the sun in our faces. We drove to El Jadida via the west coast, where we stopped at “La Lagune” in Oualidia. We got welcomed by a few locals that tried to sell us something. We declined and walked to the sea where we took a few pictures. We than walked into a restaurant where we drank something and continued.

The restaurant close to “Ras Lafaa”

Once in El Jadida we checked in to our “Ibis Budget Hotel” and walked to the old centrum. We hadn’t eaten something in a while, so we were getting hungry. We decided to walk around the local market to find a food stand selling something to eat. We found a stand selling pita filled with chicken, rice, tomato and spiced. It was delicious, and we later returned to get another one.

Food stand at a market in El Jadida

We returned to the hotel and slept early.

Day 12 – El Jadida to Sale

Total distance driven today: 242 kilometres

We didn’t do or see much today as we drove through cities. We were going to cross 2 big cities of Morocco today, Casablanca and Rabat. Casablanca was pure chaos. It was busy, and we got stuck in a traffic jam in the centrum of Casablanca. People were honking all around us. When we finally got out of Casablanca we drove behind a funeral procession. People were driving behind an ambulance and had their alarm lights on. It was an experience in itself. In Sale itself we walked around between the old city walls. We saw a very big graveyard which we were impressed by.

We ate at a snack bar in the old centrum. It was such cheap that we bought 2 meals each. We went back to the riad where we slept early again.

Day 13 – Kenitra to Tanger to Brussels

Total distance driven today: 207 kilometres

We drove over the highway to Tanger today as we had to arrive a bit earlier in Tanger to hand in the rental car. We firstly made a stop at “Plage Achakkar” which is close to the “Hercules Cave”. We ate something here and then drove to the airport where we handed in the car. Checked in, went twice through security (because they thought I was a journalist) and flown back to Brussels. Our parents should pick us up again and drive us home.

We have driven 3000+ kilometres this holiday within those kilometres we have seen a lot, made great pictures and had an awesome time. Like I said before, Morocco is such diverse… from deserts to mossy green mountains to lakes. It was so much different than we expected Morocco to be!

Like the Moroccan people say: أراك لاحقا (‘arak lahiqaan = see you later)

3 Comments Add yours

  1. WOW! Looks like fun!
    Great Blog Post
    Follow My Blog at!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, it sure was fun!

      Liked by 1 person

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