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Sara

March 14th, 2024

Exploring Morocco’s Marvels: A Journey through Marrakech and the Merzouga Desert

0 comments | 1 shares

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Sara

March 14th, 2024

Exploring Morocco’s Marvels: A Journey through Marrakech and the Merzouga Desert

0 comments | 1 shares

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Reading week provides an opportunity for students to catch up on course reading but also to explore the world beyond London. I went to Marrakech in Morocco with a group of more than 15 General Course students for 5 days. I’ll be overviewing all the various activities that we underwent during our adventure during our free time. The group and I decided to partner with a company to ensure we gain a unique experience in Morocco, including a night in the Bahar desert and camel tours. Marrakech has a vastly different culture and weather in comparison to that of London, so it has allowed us to immerse ourselves in something unique. 

Atlas Mountains 

On the first full day of the trip, we travelled towards the Atlas Mountains before reaching the first site, Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is known to be a well-preserved city in Morocco with the Moroccan government taking the opportunity to rehabilitate the area to preserve the national heritage in 1994. The Kasbah is a stunning example of earthen clay architecture with its mud-brick infrastructures and maze-like streets. This place has been featured in many films and television shows, including ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Mummy’. All in all, the Ait Ben Haddou was a very scenic location as it went along a hill that was a former caravan route between the Saharan Desert and Marrakech. The nearby Ounila River valley, which was surrounding the desert landscape, provided an outstanding view of the breath-taking views. There was a small community that inhabited the place, allowing us to easily connect and communicate with others in the area. I was able to translate Arabic for many in the group so we could learn further about the history, culture, and history of those preserving the land. 

Merzouga Desert 

Experiencing the Merzouga Desert in Morocco is a truly captivating adventure that allows for a blend of cultural immersion and appreciation for nature. The desert provided a vast expanse of golden sand dunes that reach over 100 meters in height but are also ever-shifting. In doing so, the landscape provides a mesmerizing stretch that allows us to explore and simply take a deep breath as we watched the sunset. The trip also included riding camels to the campsite in the Beber desert, where we spent the night with some stops to enjoy the view with traditional music and have chats with the local people there. By taking the traditional mode of transportation by the nomadic Berber people for centuries, we were gaining a better understanding of the lifestyle of the locals. With the limited light pollution, the Merzouga Desert offered an opportunity to stargaze by night. It was an eye-opening experience to see the Berber nomads and see how they have adapted to the harsh desert environment while still maintaining a traditional way of life. 

Marrakech

One of my favourite things to do in Marrakech was exploring the Medina. As I wondered the labyrinthine streets of Medina, I discovered many markets and conversed in the Arabic language with the locals. I loved the spices that enriched the food so much that I brought a pack of it back to London with me which included cumin, black pepper, ginger, and turmeric. Don’t forget that you can and should bargain – this is a very touristy area so the prices offered are typically targeted high. The architecture was beautiful, including the designs on the Bahia Palace and the Koutoubia Mosque. It was also incredible to see watch the sunset and sunrise from my hostel’s rooftop. The breakfast was typically offered at the terrace so its really convenient to watch it while you sip on some delicious Moroccan tea. To end the day, we attended a traditional Moroccan Dinner show where we watched many performances with fire and belly dances while we ate delicious traditional Moroccan cuisines.

Reflection

Overall, Morocco was a beautiful country to visit during the reading week, especially with so many General Course students as it allowed us to all interact with each other and share our perspective of various art pieces and cultural interactions. The tranquillity and vastness of the Atlas Mountains were not only mesmerizing but had a profound impact on many as they helped deepen our connection with nature and feel humbled by the natural beauty surrounding us for days. I am grateful to have experienced both the bustling city of Marrakech along the peaceful atmosphere of the Merzouga desert. It was such a surreal moment to sleep overnight in a desert with friends in a foreign country–I will treasure the moment and thought-provoking conversations with others forever.

About the author

Sara

Hi everyone! My name is Sara and I am a General Course student for 2023/24 at the London School of Economics and Political Science. I am in the Department of Economics at LSE and have enjoyed broadening my global perspective as I interact with international students and travel during breaks. I look forward to sharing my experiences with others as a Study Abroad Content Creator.

Posted In: Study Abroad

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