The Impossible is Possible!

We were coming into land on a bumpy approach, the wings gliding through the turbulent air. Glancing out of the window I saw nothing but darkness and sand; thousands of tiny grains bouncing over the leading edges of the wing. We were arriving in Marrakesh during a sand storm over the Sahara Desert. This is quite common, apparently – although the airport closed shortly after our arrival!

Relieved to be back on the ground I consulted my travel guide for Morocco, a country fast becoming a top destination offering great value for money. Tourism is booming with an estimated ten million tourists arriving in 2010.

My Moroccan adventure started with time to explore the fascinating city of Marrakesh, split into two distinctive areas of old and new – The Medina and the New Town. Wanting to explore the Medina I wandered excitedly from my central hotel, The Ryad Mogador Kasbah, into this walled area – looking at the map you would be forgiven for thinking that navigating the world’s most complex maze would be easier. It’s a bustling area full of donkey carts, snake charmers and plenty of locals willing to direct you – for a small fee! As well as alleyways and paths, many souks line the narrow streets where bargains are guaranteed. In the evening I visited the Djemaa el-Fna – the immense city square packed with everything weird and wonderful. If you need a break between the acrobats, belly dancing and Barbary apes there are dozens of stalls selling local food, such as the famous Tagine, cooked to order by chefs shouting ‘Eastenders’ and ‘Manchester Utd’ – Was I that obvious?!

Leaving the hustle and bustle it was time to venture into the Sahara. Arabic for ‘The Greatest Desert’, the Sahara covers an area almost as large as Europe spanning North Africa. Sitting in a worn looking 4x4 jeep with my fellow travellers, we drove for miles through the driest, most baron land I have ever seen. The heat became increasingly intense; the ice in the cool box melted and our drinking water could have boiled vegetables! The further we ventured the rocks became stones, the stones became grit and the grit became sand and before I knew it we were gliding over dunes with views I only knew from postcards. Mohammad, the driver, asked ‘Who wants a better view?’ I put myself forward and before I knew it I was lying on a mattress on the roof as we cruised at full speed cutting through the landscape. Gripping on for dear life I had the wind in my face and the sand in my hair. With only the odd camel and sand snake for company we arrived at our campsite – an area of flat land under the stars in a surreal and awe inspiring environment – the whole experience was a dream come true.

With tour compaines offering excellent value for money with 8 day tours from as little as Ł199, direct flights from London taking less than 4 hours and with so much more to offer – if you’re stuck for ideas in 2011 – visit Morocco!

T Williams

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