Morocco was my first big road trip outside Portugal. I was looking for a completely different experience in drier areas, Morocco seemed to gather all the ingredients so, I hit the road and traveled over 2200km in 8 days, from Marrakesh to Western Sahara and back to Marrakesh.
I picked up the car and drove for 4 hours in the only road that connects the Marrakesh and the southwest of Morocco, cross the Atlas Mountain range. For the first 3 hours I was surrounded by endless mountains, and then, around the highest point of the asphalt road (2.709m), the horizon grew exponentially, making me realize that I was entering Tatooine.
The goal seemed closer, to escape cities and spend the first night in the Ait-Ben-Haddou, a UNESCO-protected 11th-century Ksar that has been featured in many films and tv shows.
The reward of a late at night arrival, after crossing mountains, valleys and a dry river bed, was the view of Ait-Ben-Haddou lite by the Moon.
Sleeping in Mohamed’s family home within the Ksar was indescribable. There is no electricity, so the local homemade dinner was lit by candles and Moonlight, making the whole experience unforgettable. It was the best night in Morocco.
On the second day and after a long stroll through the Ksar, I began the first of many off-roads, this one, to the rear of the CLA movie studios, one of the two large studios in the small and pleasant city of Ouarzazate, between Marrakesh and the desert. After some movie sets and giant props sightseeing, this day ended on a high note with the first drive through the Valley of Dades and its famous winding road. Loved it.
A new day, and at the end of a new long road, two things were certain, a police blockade and a new long road. The policemen in the interior were always polite and courteous.
The journey from the Dades Valley to Merzouga, a small town at the entrance to Western Sahara, was framed with beauty all around and the ended with the view of the first large dunes. In my mind, there were a couple of landspeeders and a sandcrawler cruising around.
Photo series: Inland Morocco
After two days and two nights in the Sahara, I will never forget two things, the sunrise over the dunes and the feeling of admiration for the Berbers I had a chance to meet.
In Morocco, the contrast between civilizations, in this case, Berbere and Arabic, is not as visible on the surface as in other places, but it is there.
Leaving the Sahara, I headed north towards Errachidia, traveling through mountains, valleys, and gorges, always with a different scenario at every 100km. To the north of Errachidia, I found what remains of a vast lake that reflects one of the most significant problems in Morocco, a drought. I was told by a local, that the problem wasn’t global warming, it’s the new hotels with two or three huge swimming pools.
Errachidia had little to tell, it is a large, industrial and militarized city. The closer I was to the Algerian border, the higher the frequency of military bases.
From there I continued inland towards Marrakech, always through roads that tore the pristine landscape in cinematic ways. As I got closer to the North, cities got larger and confusion was inevitable, I began to feel that the best was behind me, and it was.
I spent the night in Marrakech and went out to explore the city on foot, in a few hours, I had seen the beautiful but chaotic and dirty city everyone talks about.
Morocco is a beautiful country, its interior and its Berbere people, are an ode to resilience and the minimal lifestyle. If you feel comfortable with minimalism or isolation, whether as aesthetic concept or lifestyle, you will find a special destination in the interior of Morocco.
Morocco Google Maps Road Trip
Plan your road trip in advance
Make sure you stop at the supermarket for water and snacks
Take light & practical clothes
Rent a four-wheel drive or at least an SUV
Spend two nights at the desert
Experience the Shara sunrise, its one of a kind
Enjoy a Berbere omelet for breakfast
Always stop your vehicle before crossing a police roadblock
Don’t go through military areas
Don’t go over the speed limit within inhabited areas
Don’t worry about cultural differences, the Berbere culture is all about freedom
Don’t worry about safety in Berbere land, everyone is nice and welcoming
Hi. I am a Portuguese photographer, cinematographer, and creative director, born in Madeira Island. On this website, there are photos from personal, documentary, editorial and commissioned work, captioned by not so random thoughts on science, philosophy, and other stuff. All my life I have found comfort in minimalism.
Some awards, exhibitions, and festivals:
ART&TUR (2017); Arts In Residency (2017, 2018); NASA’s Astronomy Picture Of The Day (2015); TTA Screenings: Cannes, New York, Lisboa, Belgrad, San Francisco, St. Petersburg & São Paulo (2014 & 2015); WPO Architecture Finalist (2013); Kernel Festival, Milan (2013); Madatac Festival, Madrid (2013); ARE, San Francisco (2012); Casa das Mudas, Madeira (2012); MyModernMet Award (2011); FWA Award (2011).