As already announced in our article about Agadir, each one of us went on a different tour. Janice went on a panoramic tour and I went on a jeep tour to Massa by TUI Cruises. It was the third day of our cruise with Mein Schiff 4 and I had many exciting experiences.
89 € per adult, 8 hours, including lunch. Difficulty: Medium, Category: Adventure
We were on time at the meeting point: the Abtanz bar. All of the tour participants were divided into groups. The groups stood for the Jeeps. We were group B. In the Abtanz bar we bought a two bottles of water for the trip. A small bottle of mineral water (0.5 L) cost 1.40 euros and a large bottle (1 L) cost 2.60 euros. We waited only a few minutes until it started. The tour guide, two young ladies, led us down to deck 2, where we left the ship. On deck 2 you also had the opportunity to buy water. After the mandatory cabin card scan and a friendly greeting of the security staff, we walked over the plank to leave the ship.
Outside we saw the jeeps. Group B had to go to the jeep with the label “B”. Next to our jeep stood our driver, a Moroccan man in his fifties and the tour guide, a young man in his late thirties. Our driver spoke only French, therefore the tour guide accompanied us. The drivers of the other jeeps spoke also English. Our tour guide spoke English, German and French. We were a total of six people in a closed jeep. There were 8 places. In the jeep were the driver, the tour guide, a young German couple and we. The tour guide, dressed sporty and with a shaved head, introduced himself, “I am Muhammad. And that’s your driver Muhammed”. The young woman next to me asked, “So you both are named Muhammed?”. “Yes! But he can not understand you, he does not speak German.” said the guide friendly. He told us that they only speak Berber with each other, the original vernacular. Berber and Arabic are completely different languages. If one understands Arabic, you still can not understand a word Berber. The tour started with a relaxed atmosphere and we were looking forward to the many hours together on our desert tour through Morocco. We went ahead and all other jeeps followed us. We made our way to the fishing villages Tifnit and Sidi R’bat.
In the morning it was still very cold in Morocco. The cruise director had predicted 28 degrees, so we were all lightly dressed with t-shirt and shorts. However, it felt like 15 degrees this morning. We wore our thin jackets and scarves to keep warm. After half an hour we stopped for a toilet break. Muhammed, the tour guide, told everyone how the day would look like and what we could expect. He spread a large map in the air and ran his fingers over our next destinations. Our plan was to visit fishing villages, a nature reserve, drive through the Rasbouka Dunes, have a Moroccan 3-course meal and enjoy the view over the dam Youssef Ben Tachfine. All this sounded very exciting and we were ready to explore the countryside of Morocco.
We first drove over paved streets, past new housing areas and the huge and modern property of the military. Then we drove to the sea. Our path was paved into sand and we only saw barren land as far as the eye could see. Again and again we encountered herds of sheep and shepherds. Suddenly a donkey stood in front of our jeep. Muhammad told us that everyone here has sheep and a donkey. He also made us familiar with the most important Arabic words, such as “Inshallah” (God willing), “Shukran” (thank you) and “Salam Aleikum” (Welcome).
Everywhere around us we saw sticks anchored in the sand. At their peak hung plastic bags waving in the wind. We asked Muhammad why there were so many sticks and what they are for. He explained that the sticks marked the land that belonged to someone. We asked ourselves how they kept the sticks apart because the plastic bags looked all similar. We were surprised by the easy living conditions in this part of the country.
The fishing villages Tifnit and Sidi R’bat were simple villages near the sea. Tifnit had proper homes and a small village center. Sidi R’bat consisted only of brass and stone cottages in the rock. Muhammad told us that the fishermen live alone here only to work. Their families do not live with them in the fishing village. Their houses consisted only of mud, stones and corrugated iron, carelessly placed in the holes of the rocks. They were completely cut off from the outside world and could only hear the sound of the sea. Some of the fishermen called after us while we passed. For them, it was certainly an exciting day to see the rich tourists on the beach. Otherwise they had to endure the only atmosphere without the tumult and laughter of their own families. Meanwhile, it was very warm outside, it felt like 25 degrees. The view was beautiful. The beach was spacious and disappeared on the horizon with dunes. The rock formations were gigantic, the sea raged and frothed up with high waves.
I saw someone from the group standing on the cliffs. Behind him the waves shot in the air. That was a great subject for a photo. I ran to the reef in the sand and asked my partner to wait for the right moment and take such an impressive picture of me. The next wave came right on cue. So I smiled at the camera and waited for the picture. Suddenly, however, it was very loud behind me. I heard the sound of the sea and I felt the first drops of water on my skin. Then everything went incredibly fast. The wave had caught me. Unfortunately, the waves shot with such a force against that reef that they towered behind me and then fell down on me. At the time I realized that, I was already soaking wet and they all laughed around me. The whole tour group had been watching and wanted to see the “great” photos of that moment. Who has the damage doesn’t need to worry for the mockery, as we say in German. Therefore I left the reef laughing and hoping that my pants would dry quickly in the heat … A few minutes later we we went back to the jeeps.
Next we drove to the National Park Souss-Massa. Here the land was crisscrossed with rivers Oued Massa and Oued Souss and therefore very fertile. Everywhere we saw palm trees, greenery and even otters ran past us. We stopped briefly at the National Park and found that there was nothing to be seen on this day. Normally one can admire many species of birds, such as herons, storks and flamingos. Unfortunately, we could not see any birds on this day. Therefore, we continued our journey to the Rasbouka Dunes.
The Rasbouka dunes lie near the Anti Atlas Mountains. We only saw sand dunes on the horizon and the mighty mountains. Behind it stretches the Sahara. We drove over rough paths and were were slightly shaken. The circuit shook tremendously and the driver had to grab it tightly. The excursion is not suitable for people with back problems. We stopped several times to take pictures. Muhammed told us a lot about the country, made jokes and kept us relaxed. He showed us fig trees and small desert melons, which are toxic. In the sand were also traces of reptiles.
On the way to the restaurant, our driver suddenly stopped. The other jeeps drove past us. No one said anything and we were slightly nervous. Muhammed, our tour guide, got out and said, “So, we’re stuck. We need to push. Everybody out!”. We were in the middle of nowhere. I said jokingly, “Muhammed will bury or sell us. The tire is not stuck and we slowed down, right?”. Muhammed laughed, the young couple as well, but the young woman agreed with me quietly. In my head I saw us being kidnapped. We all went around the jeep and the men pushed the jeep, which was easily moved because it was not stuck. We were confused and Muhammed solved the riddle laughingly: “This is an old Berber joke. We always do that! Now, who wants a photo!?”. We were visibly relieved and I gave Muhammed my expensive camera. Thereupon he said cheerfully, “Good deal! Then I will take it with me and leave now …”. I rolled my eyes and laughed. Muhammed was a joker. He kept saying, “Laughter is healthy! Life is too short!”. After the photos we got back and drove on. The other drivers probably told the tour group about the jokes, because they all waved and laughed at us.
Then we went to have a Moroccan lunch. We stopped in a small village and went to a simple house with Moroccan furniture, wall decorations and many photos of important people who already had a meal in this restaurant. There were no annoying merchants but only locals who were praying outside or also ate. On the tables were already some appetizers and drinks. As a starter, we had bread with honey, butter and jam. In addition there was water and wine in sealed bottles. For the main course there was a chicken skewer with peppers and then chicken with lemon and vegetables from the tajine, a typical Moroccan casserole with a lid made of clay. Everyone could take as much as he wanted. For dessert we got very fresh mandarins with stems and leaves. The food was very authentic and tasty. After that we were ready for the visit of the dam and to finally head back to Agadir.
Shortly before the last stop we stopped again in the dunes. There you could ride a camel and keep scorpions in your hand. However, that was desired by only a few of us. Most enjoyed the view and waited for the trip to be continued. The last stop was at a lookout point above the dam Youssef Ben Tachfine and offered incredible views. We were in the Anti Atlas Mountains and had a panoramic view of the lake and the land behind it. The reservoir is important for irrigation and drinking water supply in this area. At the dam we saw the Arabic inscription “Allah, King, Fatherland” around the Moroccan star. We only had 10-15 minutes and then went back. We were exhausted by the many new impressions.