Morocco - The Western Kingdom

Wed 6th Apr 2016 @ 7:34 pm

Morocco really holds a special place in my heart.

I first visited this wonderful country in 2011 when myself and some friends drove from Marrakech down to the Algerian border in the Sahara in search of birds. We met lots of wonderful people and stayed in great places enjoying even better food.

The birds we saw were great on this trip but I felt the culture and people really deserved more attention. It wasn’t until 2014 that I visited again, this time via motorhome all the way from the UK. This was great as we were able to see so much more; the atlantic coast, Mediterranean coast, imperial cities, atlas and desert!
To top this off I’ve just recently returned from a weekend in Marrakech and can’t wait to visit again. There is now a spotlight gallery on my website with the selection of my Morocco photos but I thought I’d talk about a few here as well.
The shot above was taken on my most recent trip. This view is Jemaa el Fna, or the main square of Marrakech. Picture the scene of food stalls, snake charmers, monkeys, henna artists and musicians. It's a brilliant place and conveying the buzz through a photo is hard but hopefully the colours and movement created with the slow shutter speed partially achieve that!
Next up is a shot from my first trip to Morocco which was actually taken on a friends camera as mine had died. It remains a favourite though. White storks nest in the urban sprawl of the ruined old palace. From a nearby bar you can enjoy the sights of them coming back to the nest to roost and if you're lucky you may catch them mating.
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One of the less frequently visited cities is Chefchaouen. It's blue medina really is something to behold and the city is generally much calmer when compared with Marrakech and Fes. I spent quite a while wandering round the small medina trying to find the bluest spot and this spot came up trumps.
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Back to Marrakech now to show a magical scene from the souks. Lanterns, lamps and teapots all undercover. Cats running out under your feet, sellers vying for your attention and the odd whiff from the fresh mint for sale everywhere. It's an assault on the senses but this scene, the people almost 'removed' using a ND filter giving a long exposure, conveys some calm.
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Out of the cities there's still lots of wonderful culture. One major aspect of Morocco's heritage comes from the berbers that lived across much of northern Africa. A visit to Morocco's Sahara is certainly one to remember. Here a berber man leads us up to a high peak in there Erg Chebbi dunes to watch the sunset. 
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Whilst we're in the desert I should introduce my favourite Moroccan bird, the desert sparrow. They have the same plucky character of their house cousins but roam around with nomadic camel herders or settle in semi permanent berber camps. 
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Back to Marrakech's medina for typical scene; an old door, old motorbike and dilapidated walls. Full of character and interest!
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