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Where to Go Next for Feb 11


Dawn in the Dessert

Part one of a three-part series on Morocco, one of the hot spots for 2009 travel.

By Judi Janofsky & Rich Steck

Traveling southeast from Marrakesh, it doesn't long before you begin to notice the enormous difference in the surrounding landscape Gone is the rich green irrigated areas around the city. In its place is a land of ochre-colored sands, dotted by tall date palms, occasionally sprinkled by small villages, including Ouarzazate, the1920s desert outpost once held by the French.

The small town is a stopping point en route to the desert. It's also home to two of the country's most impressive kasbahs: Taourirt, a magnificently beautiful palace with a series of ochre turrets rising into blue sky, seemingly stretching to reach the sun's golden rays; and Ait Benhaddou, a spectacular castle built in the center of a flowering field of almond trees, the site where the movie Lawrence of Arabia was filmed.

Live like a native in a berber tent in the desert

After a morning of sightseeing here, continue traveling southeast for an overnight in the desert outside Merzouga (arranged through the Hotel El Ati in nearby Erfoud). This is a classic Saharan adventure - a jeep trip into the desert, overnight in a Berber tent, camel ride to the dunes and final climb up the magnificent Erg Chebbi - the granddaddy of all dunes - to watch the sunrise. Soaring 815 feet, it is reported to be the largest dune on earth.


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