After a couple of weeks of cold mornings and nights we were ready to feel the heat of the suns rays on our bones, so from Ouzazate we took the N10 towards the town of Taraudant, reportedly one of the warmest places in Morocco in winter.
There is a perfectly situated campsite right by one of the gates of the city. From the roadside you really wouldn’t even know it was there other than for a small sign. Bumping up the kerb and driving a short distance alongside the walls down a gravel track, a hidden entrance to the site appears. This was quite a pleasant surprise as we were expecting more of a guardian parking (mixed parking with a guardian who looks after the vehicles) as it was so close to the city. The campsite however has toilets and showers, (although as Paul found out later that day the showers were cold water only, needless to say we didn’t used them and showered in Boris instead) and electrical hook up. Although normally when travelling we wouldn’t be too worried about hooking up to electric as we have solar which generates enough power for us, but here in Morocco as the nights have been so cold we’ve taken to leaving our heating on low overnight to ensure we are cosy when tucked up in bed, and the additional cost of having electric is normally just a couple of Euros so it’s really not a big decision. The campsite seemed to be favoured by a number of long term French motorhomes who stay for long periods during winter. I can understand why a lot of them decide to stay here for extended periods as Taroudant offers everything you need right on your doorstep.
As with a lot of medinas it centres around a main square, but unlike many other towns and cites, it is off the main tourist trail so has a genuine and honest feel to it where you get to experience real Moroccan life. The streets are full of hustle and bustle and it’s enough to just wander freely through the maze occasionally stopping for coffee to re-charge and take in the street entertainers in the main square. In all Moroccan towns this is where the locals gather both day and night, story tellers, snake charmers, magic performers,men tap dancing with pigeons on their head (yes really), it really is a hive of activity. With no welfare state Moroccans have to work or rely on family to keep them in old age, so as well as people using forms of entertainment as a way of living you will also see mobile sellers of single cigarettes and packs of tissues and the odd shoe shiner.
The main Square in action
Taroudant was one of our favourite places to visit, and is definitely one to put on the list. With the streets a throng of small stores selling everything from meat, bread, pastries, and groceries to items made from terracotta, pots and pans, electrical items, bike repair shops and mechanics, you really can get it all here. One of the things we so admire about Moroccans is how industrious they are, you name it they can make it or repair it and because of this, very little here gets discarded. Think old tyres made in to the soles of shoes or buckets and plastic bottles made into mats, they certainly retain skills that we lost in the Western world a long time ago. Each town has a traditional tailor that will make or mend anything for you and the cobblers here will make an old pair of shoes almost brand new again. From vehicle repairs and resprays to tailor made covers for bikes, metal work, shelving, engine repairs and even pictures hand painted on your vehicle, you will see it all whilst travelling here.
Horse and carts are often seen in Moroccan towns
Whatever day of the week you visit a Moroccan town they always seem to be full of life and people, the hub of the community, where the day of the week has no bearing on the amount of people that are out and about. The traffic is chaos, street vendors set up stalls everywhere and anywhere and the footpaths are non existent , but the hustle and bustle of this place is a real draw. Taroudant has two Souks, one aimed at any tourists that stray here, selling shoes, silver, terracotta and leatherware and the other selling household goods, spices, olives, groceries, footwear and clothes, where an array of smells assault the senses.
Known as one of the places to produce leather Tataudant also has a couple of tanneries based outside the city walls which we had intended to walk to but as we left earlier than we planned (more about that later), we didn’t get there this time.
Our day’s here were spent simply wandering around the fascinating streets and soaking up the atmosphere. Paul had been on the lookout for some leather shoes and after some bargaining managed to bag himself a pair of bright yellow handmade leather slip-ons for just £8! By mid afternoon with tired feet we retreated back to the campsite and parked ourselves outside to enjoy the last heat of the day. Some French were in the throws of a boules match – they are almost born playing this sport, after watching them for some time Paul came back to let me know that the following day we were going to be joining them! My first thoughts were, I hope we don’t embarrass ourselves too much! They take it very seriously, but made us very welcome despite my rusty French we were able to hold our own. Phew!
International Boules Championship!
Our intention was to stay a couple more days, but circumstances changed our plans when at 5am we were awoken by a bleeping noise indicating that our electric had gone off. On looking out of our window we could clearly see why, as a fire had started at one of the electrical points, which happened to be the we were plugged into. Paul went racing out with our small fire extinguisher and managed to extinguish the fire with our, but it quickly re-ignited as it just wasn’t man enough for the job! One of our French neighbours found a larger extinguisher on site and this time it was successful. The guardian that was supposed to be on duty in case of any problems had slept though the whole event and only surfaced when the owners showed up the next morning after a call from a local . A close call for us all and a warning to stay vigilant when plugged in here! With no electrics now on site we decided to travel on to our next destination of Sidi Ifni on the coast. The owner wouldn’t take any money from us from our stay as we now needed to replace our extinguisher which will cost us about 3 times as much as our stay, but we were grateful of the gesture.
Camping At Taroudant (GPS 30.47932 –8.875441) small aire type camping next to city walls. Great location. 50 MAD (€5) per night and 30 MAD (€3) for electric. Very clean showers and toilets but cold water only. Filling and drive over emptying. Watch the electrics though!