Dades Valley & Ouarzazate, Morocco, Oct. 6, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Saturday, October 6, 2007

If northern Morocco has a definite Mediterranean or Near Eastern feel to it, once south of the High Atlas range you are unmistakably in Africa with clear dry air, blue skies, desert winds, intense colors, and a population with darker skin tones.  The region directly south of the High Atlas Range is nicknamed The Valley of the Casbahs and is chick full of the ancient fortified cities called casbahs.  Since the primary material used to construct casbahs is mud brick, they tend to melt in the infrequent desert rainstorms and disintegrate if not regularly repaired, resulting in plenty of ruined casbahs throughout the Valley. 
Our main stop in the valley was Ouarzazate, a Berber desert town and tourist center of the south with plenty of shops, hotels, and a large UNESCO restored casbah.  Ouarzazate is also considered the movie center of Morocco and home to several successful film studios as its desert surroundings can easily double for many parts of the world from the Holy Land to the American Wild West and have done so in such movies as Sheltering Sky, The Man Who Would Be King, The Last Temptation of Christ, Living Daylights, Kundun, Jewel of the Nile, The Mummy, Alexander the Great, and Lawrence of Arabia.  I am not a major movie buff per se but was somewhat disappointed when the majority vote in the group (I think it was 11 to my 1) nixed Dave's suggestion that we stop for a visit at Atlas Studios outside of Ouarzazate.
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