Sunday, 6 July 2014


At Desert Detours we are now on our short “Summer Break”, at least from Morocco……….[but busy with Andalusia Detours though.]  IF you are still thinking of joining on of our tours this year, here’s a very short update….
We have just ONE place available on our SEPTEMBER eastern Morocco “Amazigh” tour…….This tour explores the rarely visited Moroccan region right up to the Algerian border and then down to the extreme south eastern point of the country. NO OTHER tour organisation goes there!
A client has changed dates so there is now just ONE place available on our NOVEMBER “Classic” Premium  tour.
Both our October and December tours are now FULL, offering standby places only.
Around half of our NINE scheduled 2015 Moroccan Tours are now FULL and can only offer “Standby Places”.....That leaves few places for next year.

For the very latest information and remaining availability just contact the office NOW!

IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN.............
In most Muslim countries Ramadan started on Sunday 29th June…….so I’m a little late in wishing my many Muslim friends a safe and happy Ramadan………never mind, better than never!




Leila Alaoui embarked on a road trip across the country to photograph men and women of all ages, from diverse ethnic and tribal groups, Arabs and Berbers, in various regions of Morocco. I encountered many difficulties shooting portraits in a land where people have superstitious apprehensions towards the camera, and often see photography as a tool that steals the soul of people. Nonetheless, I was able to convince many to participate in the adventure, while setting up my portable studio in public places, souks (markets) and other private gatherings.

Leila says "The Moroccans” is an on-going project. Its images are an attempt to bear witness to the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of Morocco, an archival work on the aesthetics of disappearing traditions through contemporary digital photography."

DEAD AND BURIED?...................

For all those who have had an life-changing experience……or suffered sudden and  involuntary loosening of the bowels while traveling in one you may be pleased to learn……….
The government has rolled out a new initiative get rid of Morocco's Grand taxis or "white taxis" as they are called by most people. The taxis are all Mercedes Benz and according to the government a majority of vehicles are "wonky". In addition factories no longer exist in Germany or elsewhere, and have not done so for almost 20 years.

It is estimated that some 55,000 cars are still in service and carry millions of passengers in the four corners of the kingdom, but it is claimed that apart from accidents and fatalities, there big crime is pollution.

The owners and drivers of these taxis can expect compensation from the Benkirane government to acquire new cars that are both quieter and less polluting. …….. In order to encourage "this burial initiative", the government has signed an agreement with the Renault Dacia Moroccan factory which should lower the price by 10,000 dirhams for each vehicle, which should contain 8 seats instead of the 6 offered by Mercedes currently used. 
Let’s wait and see ……….

A Mercedes E300 Blue Tec Hybrid recently drove all the way from Africa to the U.K. on just one tank of diesel. Driven by British Journalist Andrew Frankel and one relief driver, the original plan was to take the ferry from Tangier and then cover the distance up to the Channel along European Auto Route's just to be able to reach the UK, a distance of just over 1,200 miles.  But, upon arriving in the UK after 27 hours on the road, the team decided to continue on to the Goodwood Festival of Speed since they still had some fuel left.

Not only did the duo make it Goodwood in West Sussex, but the E300 BlueTec Hybrid still showed a remaining range of about 100 miles.
The car selected for the drive, a 2014 E300 BlueTec hybrid, features a 2.1-liter, 204-hp diesel engine and a 27-hp electric motor that generates 184 lb-ft of torque, all mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The overall torque generated by the two power-plants is 368 lb-ft. That's enough to give it the ability to make the sprint to 62 mph in 7.5 seconds, though the crucial figure on this drive was the 61.2 mpg the car was able to achieve. This E300 was also equipped with a larger 21-gallon fuel tank, a popular $170 option on this model.

The route chosen wasn't necessarily aimed at hypermiling .... after all, there aren't that many options when travelling from North Africa up to the UK.  The team encountered traffic jams, heavy rain, and very intense heat throughout the 27 hour journey, in addition to dramatic changes in elevation.  The E300 Blue Tec Hybrid covered two continents and four countries, driving through three time zones, with the final distance clocking in at 1,223 


Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever.
The Alchemist is such a book. With over a million and a half copies sold around the world, The Alchemist has already established itself as a modern classic, universally admired. Paulo Coelho's charming fable will enchant and inspire for generations to come.

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with The Alchemist.
The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams.

I think “The Alchemist”  is a book that needs reading over and over again, not that its heavy or deep, rather you will gain a better understanding and reflection each time. 

[Not to be confused with the other “The Alchemist” by Paulo Baligalupi, which I have not read, or the many others sharing the same title.]


If you join one of our tours to experience Morocco’s Imperial cities, Morocco’s imperial cities, scenic mountain ranges, dense forests, ocean beaches and seemingly endless waves of sand dunes you are unlikely to be disappointed. What you might not realize is that Morocco also has ancient many sites where you can meander freely through Roman ruins.

If you are visiting Rabat, the nation’s capital, you can visit the Roman town of Sala Colonia just by taking a few steps beyond Rabat’s city walls.

The Roman town is surrounded by its own set of walls, made of the red stone common for that area. The few entrances to the premises possess the form of the region’s characteristic arch, with the main entrance marked by majestic pillars near the northern end of the west wall. Once inside the walls, you see ruins of buildings built before 1100 AD, including seemingly isolated pillars and rocks with readable ancient carvings.

An old mosque and minaret tower in the center of the historic site. As you wander in their direction, you’ll pass by several decorative archways and displays of ornate tile work that are impressively intact. You’ll also find the remains of a school for religious teachings, along with the remains of its courtyard, central fountain and dormitories.

While most tourists view the ancient ruins, many are also pleasantly surprised by the unattended gardens. A network of freshwater springs hydrates the variety of flora and fauna that flourish in the relatively quiet space. The gardens and nearby structures also provide a nesting ground for a large community of storks.

Although the Romans were not the first to occupy the space…….the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians are believed to have resided there earlier….they founded the town around 40 AD. Since then, the site has been occupied by other rulers. Despite the changing populations and structural damage from the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, the venue offers much to admire. A panoramic look over the premises reveals a picturesque combination of ancient architecture and lush gardens in the foreground, with a clear view over the nearby countryside in the background.

Sala Colonia is easily reached by foot from the edge of Rabat; however, most visitors opt to take a taxi. Signage through the site is in Arabic and French with some in English. While many visitors explore the old town independently, English speakers interested in learning about the structures and their history might benefit from hiring a guide …… as always there will be no shortage of them around [just make sure you retain an “Official” one.]

The undisputed favorite with motorhome owners, as well as many others judging by their sales figures, or is it that they don’t install height-barriers ?

Anyway, thought you might like this………….
PS……Another song on the same subject at our other site....


During the first six months of this year, the value of investments in foreign films in Morocco reached over 502 million Dhm, with a total of twenty-two foreign movies and TV productions filmed before the end of this past month.
Morocco has been always known for its great and big landmarks, like the Kasbahs of Ouarzazate, the exotic monuments in Marrakech or Tangier’s breathtaking scenery. Many famous movies have been filmed in Morocco such as Babel, a multi-narrative Drama directed by Alejandro González and written by Guillermo Arriaga and starring Brad Pitt or Rock the Kasbah an American comedy film directed by Barry Levinson, with many film stars including Bruce Willis, Bill Murray and Kate Hudson.
Morocco has more than 20 movie sets, nine of which are for American movies, four French and some from different countries like Germany and Canada.  Last May, the German movie producer and director Tom Tykwer filmed some of his movie, “A Hologram For The King,” in Moroccans cities like Laayoun, Tata and Ouarzazate studios.
Earlier this year, the movie Queen of The Desert directed by Werner Herzog, a German producer and actor, took place in Marzouga, Marrakesh, Arfoud and Ouarzazate. The move gathered big and well-known actors and actresses like Nichol Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattison and about 50 Moroccan actors and more than 1000 extras and 65 Moroccan technicians who helped during the filming.
Morocco has hosted over 50 major movies that were entirely or partially shot in different cities. Some of them are famous movies like The Mummy, The Hills Have Eyes, Body of Lies, Black Hawk Down etc. and even some shots from Inception starring Leonardo Di Caprio.


This is Tquawt or Sellou or Slilo or Sfouf or Zmitta. It has so many different names but each name refers to the same nut-based paste, known as energy paste or brown mixture. This is a unique Moroccan specialty made of an amazing mixture of almonds, sesame seeds as well as other spices and flavorings. Sellou does not only leave a lasting visual impression but does wonders to your taste buds too!
Though Sellou is one of several traditional dessert treats, served at weddings, newborn ceremonies and other special occasions, it is particularly consumed during Ramadan for Ftour or Iftar (the meal before the break of dawn and the evening meal that breaks the day-long fast respectively), as it is exceptionally nutritious and gives instant energy. Actually, this quality has made Sellou synonymous with Ramadan.
Traditionally, Sellou is considered a natural dietary remedy and is recommended for nursing mothers as it has been known to increase lactation. In fact, Moroccan nursing mothers consume this nutritious and fortifying paste for at least 30 days after childbirth.
Sellou is not a set Moroccan recipe,  as it widely varies from one region to another. Furthermore, each family has its own secret recipe that includes the best fresh nuts and spices to make the tastiest and most energy-inducing paste. Sellou recipes remain controversial when it comes to the discussion of the ingredients. Some recipes call for additional fresh nuts, apart from sesame seeds and almonds, and different spices or flavorings for health benefits. Others use pure olive oil or argan oil and honey instead of clarified butter and icing sugar, which is much healthier. Some use roasted flour, whereas others do not. Despite the traditional and official recipe, Moroccans and cooks everywhere use various ingredients, but the result is undisputed; a rich and tasty energy paste where flavors build and melt together creating an outstanding dessert!

Sellou is a sweet treat that typically tastes better with age. Traditionally, it is prepared one to two weeks before the start of Ramadan, and is supposed to last for the duration of the month. In some cases, there is enough to stretch out over a couple months (most freeze well, though it is not necessary to freeze Sellou). This explains the preferred use of clarified butter in the traditional recipes given its long-lasting freshness.

There are several versions as well as adaptations of Sellou from all parts of Morocco that seem confusing. In general, there are four variations of Moroccan Sellou:

1-Sellou or Slilo or Sfouf: This version calls for roasted white or wheat flour as the main ingredient aside from the basic nuts and spices. The flour should be roasted in the oven or in a heavy, ungreased skillet or pan until golden, stirred every few minutes to prevent it from burning. Your kitchen will smell just like one of the many Moroccan bakeries just around the corner.
2-Tquawt: This is the flourless version of Selou. Basically the same ingredients in Sellou are used except for roasted flour. (My mother used to make this version, and it was so delicious it was to die for!)

3-Zamita or Toummette or Bssisse: Its preparation also varies from one region to another.
In the South, Souss region, there is a sweet and a savory version: the sweet version is made by mixing roasted barley flour with Argan Oil, adding pure honey and a pinch of salt to the mixture resulting in a crumbly consistency. The savory version requires boiled water, a pinch of salt and Argan Oil.  In some regions, where argan oil is not available or too expensive, pure olive oil is used instead. In Meknes and Taza, Sellou is called Zamita. The word Zamita in these regions refers to the Sellou variation known in Casablanca, Fes, Rabat, etc… The Meknassi variation includes toasted peanuts along with other special regional ingredients.

4-Taquenta: This is the Sellou version of Oujda. It is easy to make and mainly made of flour browned with salt and oil. Honey is added for sweetening.

Traditionally, Sellou is presented by mounding the mixture into a pyramid on a plate, decorated with toasted almonds. Then Sellou is placed on individual plates and served to each person, just like cake.