RTW Trip Merzouga to Ouarzazate, Morocco Day 38: Camels, cars, and local buses

I literally brought nothing with me to the camel trek, so when I got up at the crack of dawn for sunrise, I was already dressed and ready to go out the door. We climbed up the steep dune, and sleepily waited for the sunrise. Unfortunately, there were too many clouds, so we didn’t see anything. We then had a simple breakfast, and headed back on our camels to go back to our hotel. I was a little sad that this was the end of the came trek.

Morning breakfast and view

Morning breakfast and view

This is me on a camel

This is me on a camel

gregoncamel.jpg

This trip was definitely the highlight in Morocco. I highly suggest using this hotel and tour to book your desert trek.  When we got back to our hotel, we settled the bill via the honor system (that was a first!), and also received a complimentary Berber scarf with a fossil pattern on it. Whenever I wore it in Morocco, a lot of women laughed at me (probably because they thought I was a fossil nerd) but I didn’t care.  As we were backing out in our car, the manager came running out, handing us the scarves saying “marketing, marketing,” giving us high fives on our way out.  How adorable!

Camel shadows

Camel shadows

Greg on his camel

Greg on his camel

tent village

tent village

Greg walking up the dune

Greg walking up the dune

view of the tent grounds at dusk

view of the tent grounds at dusk

We had to hire a driver from our hotel to get back to civilization.  The hotel offered us a good deal to get to Erfoud, so that we could catch the bus to our next destination, Ouarzazate.

The ride to Erfoud was so worth the money. It felt like an adventure tour on bumpy desert unmarked roads to see local life in the desert, the various stops to see fossils, and random camels.  When we arrived to Erfoud, an area known for fossils, we needed to grab a meal before our long ride to Ouarzazate.

Walking around Erfoud felt like real Morocco without too many tourists.  Of course we had a couple touts- a guy who offered us a ride to Ouarzazate with his uncle, and another guy wanting to have tea with us in his shop.  They were a bit relentless. Erfoud is also known for prunes (which I have grown to love while in Morocco), but I must say the bins of prunes with flies galore did not seem inviting.  The town was complete with ample stares, but it was that curious kind of stare, not the intimidating ones.

images of Erfoud

images of Erfoud

We ended up going to one if the few restaurants in town, and ordered the Berber pizza.  When it arrived hours later (we basically had to get it wrapped up to go), it was a large round pie filled with minced onion, herbs, and what I believed to be lamb meat.  Tasty, but maybe not worth the wait as we awkwardly ate it on a local bus.

Berber pizza

Berber pizza

Yup!  We took a local bus from Erfoud to Ouarzazate. It was dusty, dirty, hot, and filled with crying babies, people with tons of baggage, a lot of yelling, broken windows, and people eating and littering in the bus.  There was even a handcuffed criminal at the back! The bus constantly stopped and we drove through a couple of heavy dust storms.  When we stopped by Todra Gorge, Anthony Bourdain’s Moroccan doppleganger guy hopped on, and tried to get us to stay at his hotel, when we weren’t even getting off at that stop.  (See here for an image of Anthony Bourdain’s Turkish doppelganger I saw in Istanbul).

We finally arrived to Ouarzazate at night, seeing nothing, only to immediately crash when getting to Hotel Royal.

Costs:
Tip for Said 50 dirham
Ride to Erfoud 100 dirham
Berber pizza and water and coke 80 dirham
Bus to Ouarzazate 160 dirham
Cookies 13 dirham
Water 6 dirham
Taxi to Hotel Royal 20 dirham
Coke 6 dirham
Baggage 17 dirham
Hotel royal 90 dirham

Total cost: 542 dirham / 2 = $30.38 per person

What I learned: Local buses don’t save you a whole lot and are often less comfortable than the usual CTM buses.  Also, don’t pay more than 5 dirham for storing your baggage on the bus.  I think we may have given some random guy 17 dirham to store our bags in the bus.  We should have known better!

Actual date of travel: Oct. 11, 2014

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