Over the Range (Atlas Mountains, Morocco)

I was about to make my beeline across the country, through the Sahara Desert.

 The trip would take 4 days, involving bus journeys, long camel drives and camping in the desert. It sounded so romantic and primitive - I couldn't wait for it!

Before touching the desert, I had to get through the Atlas mountains first - a handsomely jagged mountain range that cinches in Morocco's waistline like a basque.

I woke up incredibly early that morning to catch a 6am bus from Place de Foucauld. I was the only person waiting there, and grew increasingly anxious is it got later and later after 6am, and no bus was in sight.

 I stood nervously outside a closed-down cafĂ© playing with a box of kittens. I don't know whether they belonged to somebody or were just dumped there. They were probably riddled with ticks but they were a very effective stress-reliever!

40 minutes after 6, the bus rocked up. There were a few other tourists on board who I started talking to as we began to make out way out of the city and towards the mountain range.

After a one-hour nap, I woke up in beaming daylight.


The bus had stopped for a refreshment break at a truck stop in the foothills.


As far as highway stops go, this was a pretty nice one. It was peaceful and the air was mountain-fresh.


There was a stand offering freshly-squeezed orange juice for as little as 20p a glass. Fabulous.





 Another hour and we were much higher up into the mountain range. The air grew colder and thinner, but cleaner. After only a few days in dusty Marrakech, my lungs were happy about this change in scenery.




Further along the road, the landscape grew less and less green. We also started to descend in altitude - we were over the highest of the range.

Now it was all downhill to the Sahara.



The road grew flat, and we began to sail through a date plantation - mile after mile of lush, green palm trees armed with delicious, sweet dates.


We stopped to for a refreshment break, and I bought a box of dates from a young boy for less than £1. 

It was like a box of luxury chocolates - eat date as silky and caramelly as the last. The scorching desert heat caramelises these dates, giving them a velvety toffee disposition.



Tanked up on sugar, we set forward.

This was the edge of an oasis - the mountains were far behind - I was now officially in a desert. Scorching, dry desert.


And onwards towards the dunes...

Thanks for reading!

Anthony

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