An express trip to Marrakech
Morocco describes itself as a country of contrasts, and we certainly experienced that on our whistle stop trip there last week! And it's heaven for photographers...
We firstly spent a few days in Marrakech, staying in the opulent La Sultana hotel, which was full of eye-catching, kitsch memorabilia from all around the world.
Marrakech has some amazing sights, sounds and smells to experience, with most people focusing on the Souks (bazaars or markets) and the many royal palaces, mosques and other fabulous buildings, typically featuring wonderfully ornate decoration. Most of these are empty of objets, due to the annoying habit adopted by each arriving "ruling force" of ransacking and plundering the treasures of their forerunners. Hard to take different or original photos, but loads of pleasing lines and patterns.
The Souks are a place to get lost in the maze of alleyways and cul de sacs, and are an extraordinary sight, but hard to photograph. All foreigners are hassled continually, and it's best to avoid their eye; so, taking a photo with a big camera is guaranteed to draw their attention. Photograph the stallholder himself and you are likely to be met with with either anger or a demand for money!
The Majorelle Gardens, formerly owned by none other than Yves Saint Laurent, has some wild flora, not least huge cacti...
After Marrakech we spent a few days in the Atlas Mountains, staying at the English-owned Kasbah Angour hotel. This sits in the foothills of the mountains and has stunning views in all directions, so brilliant for some landscape shots.
The highlights of our stay here were trips to the local Souk - very different to the ones in Marrakech, a real local market for the Berber people of the region - and up into the mountains.
The souk was again very difficult to photograph, with a complete ban on photographing any of the (few) women there.
Our trip up into the hills allowed us to see some of the local Berber people and their villages, frequently built into, or on top of, the hills. Again, no photographing of the women, a real shame as their clothing is wonderfully ornate and colourful. The landscapes were all stunning.
The first photo below is part of the village of Sidi Fares, showing just a few houses perched on a hill complete with rooms for their animals, and satellite TV, and the last photo shows Mount Toubkil, the highest peak in north Africa, snow-clad in September following a recent storm. A great way to round off a brilliant trip.
See all my favourite shots in the gallery.
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