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Friday, June 5th, 2009

Morocco’s Deep South

Berber with dromedaries in the great sand dunes of Erg Chebbi near the village of Merzouga in the Sahara desert. Southeast Morocco.

Djemaa El Fna – when Marrakech’s iconic square awakes at dusk and transforms into an oriental bedlam, the full stretch of all senses is required. Snake charmers, storytellers, musicians and street entertainers are the actors on this magical stage that is accompanied by the fragrance of numerous food and spice stalls. Marrakech, a city of exotic beauty and enchantment, is the ideal starting point for a sojourn into the thrilling contrasts of Morocco’s Great South.

Southwards, beyond the High Atlas Mountains, the intense, pure light of the pre-Sahara brings out tones of red, brown, ochre and gold contrasted by touches of greenery and an arching canopy of blue. It is in this arid yet beautiful land that many have lost their hearts and fallen in love with proud villages and little oases set within a fantastical landscape.

The brightly painted houses of the Ameln villages are built on the lower slopes of the Djebel El Kest. Ameln valley, Anti-Atlas mountains, Morocco.

This is exotic Morocco, remote and lost in time, a region that yields its treasures to those willing to venture a little further and follow the route to the tranquil Ameln valley in the west or the spectacular Drâa valley south of Ouarzazate with its thousands of date palms. Another ancient route passes spectacular Kasbahs along the southern edge of the High Atlas.

In this land of contrasts, unexpectedly stunning scenery can be waiting round every bend, be it almond blossoms at the end of January turning the region into a sea of flowers or the Dadès and Todra gorges, which make dramatic incisions in the southern foothills of the High Atlas.

The world-famous kasbahs (= fortress) at Aït Benhaddou just south of the High Atlas mountains are under the auspices of the UNESCO. Southern Morocco.

Similarly unforgettable experiences are a stroll through the famous kasbah of Aït Benhaddou, the palmeries of Tamnougalt and Amazrou, or entering the mysterious world of the Sahara, where the giant sand dunes of Erg Chebbi extend like an ocean beyond the frontier town of Erfoud. Once seen, these are sights never forgotten.

The photographer

Thomas Dressler is an accomplished photographer who has perfected the art of capturing the multifaceted geometry of the world’s most amazing landscapes. Also known for his evocative imagery of the people and animals that inhabit such regions, Thomas’ work is characterised by its sensitivity and artistry.

www.thomasdressler.net

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