Light & Land
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‘Morocco’ Photography Tour Review by Linda Wride
20th May 2019
I’d visited Morocco before, but only spent time in Marrakech and cities in the north of the country. A tour taking in the High Atlas mountains and gorges, the desert and the coast sounded irresistible, which is how I came to book my third big trip with Light & Land.
Billed as a “Feast for the senses”, the tour didn’t disappoint. The scent of orange blossom; the taste of mint tea; the sound of the call to prayer punctuating the day are all still vivid in the memory, as is the feeling in parts of your body you don’t normally notice, after an extended period sitting astride a camel…
But above all, it was a feast for the eyes: epic landscapes, vibrant colours, awe-inspiring shapes and forms, fascinating street life, the unexpected and the downright quirky! In short, a photographer’s paradise - even for someone like me, usually more at home in the urban environment.
Andy’s varied itinerary gave us a wealth of photo opportunities: winding up amazing series of hairpin bends as we passed over the snow-capped High Atlas mountains; walking through steep sided gorges, where goats perched on almost invisible ledges and climbers clung to the rockface. We passed small settlements constructed in local materials which appeared to grow out of the landscape; explored the deserted kasbah at Telouet still richly decorated with tiles and carvings in traditional Islamic geometric patterns and watched the rising sun throw into relief the distinctive mass of Ait Ben Haddou, before crossing the river on a narrow sandbag bridge to wander around inside this UNESCO protected kasbah.
The route to the desert took us past amazing rock formations and striations, fields of poppies, palmeries, herds of goats, groups of camels, storks nesting on the top of mosque towers, through towns where streets throbbed with life on market days, and stalls piled high with dates and other local products.
For me, the desert was one of the highlights of the tour – from the first sight of the dunes in the distance, to afternoon and dawn walkabouts in the desert itself. We enjoyed the light at different times of day as it threw into relief the distinctive shapes of the dunes, ripples in the sand, and feathery tops of grasses piercing the geometry of the landscape, while the sight of camel trains appearing from behind one dune then disappearing behind another presented an endless stream of photo opportunities.
I don’t think any of us will forget traveling into the dunes on our own camel train for an overnight stop in tented accommodation in the desert – a sight for sore eyes and other aching body bits – where we celebrated with a good meal and local wine (which Andy had the foresight to bring along in his overnight bag).
Essaouria on the coast was a complete contrast – a bustling port where fish was landed throughout the day from a fleet of distinctive blue fishing boats, crowded with people buying and selling the day’s catch, and cats and gulls hoping for their share; busy souks in the medina with all manner of goods to temp those with cash to spare and space in their suitcases, and probably the best meal of the trip - although it was a close run thing with the delicious tangine we’d consumed in a historic riad at the top of the Todgha Gorge and the lunch in a Berber tent, where we had been entertained by local Gnawa tribe musicians before the meal.
Essaouira’s distinctive architecture with its many eye catching doors, street art and orange juice sellers added to the photographic diversity of our last port of call before heading back to Marrakech, via olive groves carpeted with wild flowers and goats balanced precariously in an argan tree…
We said our farewells over a meal on the roof terrace of a bar overlooking El Badi Palace, having successfully negotiated the souks in Marrakech medina without loosing anyone and (more or less) avoiding the tourist traps of the main square Jmaa el Fna, with its snake charmers, fortune tellers, henna artists, musicians and orange juice stalls.
Andy was on hand throughout with welcome advice when needed, introducing us to great locations with the help of our delightful guide, Ibrahim, and a driver who managed to negotiate the hairpin bends and rough ground of the mountains and the chaotic traffic of towns and cities with equal skill.
My thanks to all of them for a wonderful tour and for their patience in the face of a group of enthusiastic photographers shouting “Stop! Stop!” when something we wanted to capture caught our eye. Herding cats must be easy by comparison…
A feast for the senses, indeed. Who could ask for anything more?
Written by Linda Wride
Images by Linda Wride
Andy will be returning to Morocco 13th - 22nd April 2020 , click here for more details about this tour and to book your place.