honeymoon adventures

How to visit Morocco, Egypt, Nepal, and Israel in One Day

We rode our trusty camels out of the desert and headed to Zagora, the date capital of Morocco (dates as in the deliciously sweet fruit, not the activity). We didn’t see much of Zagora because our hotel, Riad Lamane, was such an oasis. This was our day to feel like real honeymooners. We lounged by the pool, drinking Casablanca beers, and then moved up to our private terrace to watch the sunset (that’s where my new header picture for this blog was taken).

Our private house in the riad

Our private cottage in the Riad

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Most of our hotel rooms in Morocco were a rich blue color.

Flowers everywhere!

It felt like we were in a jungle in the middle of the desert.

Our private breakfast area/ nap space.

Our private breakfast area/ nap space.

The next day we left for Ouarzazate, the Hollywood of Morocco. Before we could tour the studios we had to listen to a mandatory carpet sales pitch. My brother, who lived in Morocco for a summer, warned me not to accept tea from a carpet salesman. That’s advice that sounds ridiculous out of context, but in the moment it’s priceless. You end up feeling so guilty for drinking ten cents worth of tea that you actually consider going into massive debt for a rug you wouldn’t have even considered in the first place. They are master salesmen, making you think that a rug can represent everything you believe in, and if you don’t get it your trip to Morocco will be in vein. I have never said no so many times in my life.

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Mustafa, our rug salesman, was a lot friendlier when he thought he was going to sell us a $10,000 rug.

After two hours of saying no to various rugs we got to tour the film studio. This is where Lawrence of Arabia, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Babel, Inception, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Kundun were filmed (to name a few). Most of the sets are still up so you get to feel like your traveling around the world.

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Fake Egypt!

Fake Greece!

Fake Greece!

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Fake Israel and fake Rome! This set was used for a bunch of movies,.

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This was the other side of the studio. The Atlas mountains were actually used to represent Mt. Everest in one movie.

We ended our day in a stunning, peaceful sanctuary up in the mountains.

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Irocha hotel about an hour outside of Ouarzazate

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The Stunning Sahara Desert

The first desert city we reached was Ait Benhaddou.

2013-03-05 11.01.32The same eight families have been living in these ancient mud walls since the 17th century. If you visit this city, resist all urge to be friendly. Everyone who said hi to us expected us to pay them for a tour.

This city was used for the filming of The Mummy, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and Prince of Persia (just to name a few). It’s strange to walk through the exotic city and have it still feel familiar because I’ve seen in so much on the big screen.

2013-03-06 04.31.14We stayed at a beautiful hotel that overlooked the ksar.

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The hotel even provided some pretty interesting and unexpected reading material!

The next day we were back on the road for another four hours, heading towards the border of Algeria. The further we drove the more desolate the environment became. I remember seeing some villages with only ten houses and wondering how people survive that way. Then we reached our camel camp!

2013-03-06 12.27.58I didn’t think it was possible to get further from civilization  but it felt like we were the only humans left on the planet. We rode these amazingly uncomfortable animals for two hours straight. It was just us and our Berber tour guide. After you get over the discomfort of the camel hump digging into your crotch, the desert becomes an incredibly meditative place. It’s so quiet you can hear the sand blowing off the dunes. With every gust of wind the entire landscape changed.

2013-03-06 12.16.50We reached our camp just before sunset!

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Our private camp!

Our private camp in the middle of nowhere.

Inside our traditional Berber tent

Inside our traditional Berber tent

It even had a bathroom!

It even had a bathroom!

We spent a lot of time running on the sand dunes before dinner.

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Our bountiful meal

Our bountiful meal

Our tour guide played drums for us after dinner, and described what it was like growing up as a nomad.

Our tour guide played drums for us after dinner, and described what it was like growing up as a nomad.

We woke up to watch the sunrise. We were surrounded by pink, glowing sand, but the camera couldn’t capture it’s magnificence 😦2013-03-07 02.05.19