Morocco's Great South, Sahara's lost harbours
76 images Created 2 Apr 2009
The old trans-Saharian trade routes starts in some small towns and villages of the south of Morocco. After a dangerous two-month journey across the Sahara from Timbuktu thousands of camels and their owners returned with the gold, slaves and ivory that would make Maghreb cities wealthy. From Taroudant, a major city Berber market with spectacular old walls still intacts, to Tafraout the "pink city" surrounded by scenic rock formations in the heart of the Middle Atlas. Pink casbah-like homes perched on red boulders or clinging tenaciously to the walls of cliffs erected by men who leave the town to seek their fortunes elsewhere. A rough track arrives to Illigh, a impressive fortress scattered in the mountains that once was the crossroad of the traffic of Trans-Saharan gold in the axis Gao-Tombouctou and Tombouctou-Taroudant. Illigh disposed of a army of thousands of horsemen, the "Black Guard", and was at least powerful and wealthy as Morocco's sultans. His wealhy originated in a track vanishing in the mountain, the old road for Timboctou. From Kerdous pass the main road arrives to Tiznit, a traditional "desert harbour" once fortified by French Legiòn Etrangère against nomad warriors raids. Tiznit is still a Berber city with stunning mudstone townwalls and mosques builded in the same architectural saharian style of Mali, on the southern side of Sahara. The road reaches the Atlantic at Sidi Ifni, once a Spanish colony and, more to south, the village of Goulmin (Goulimine), "the Gateway to the Desert" once a famous camel market and an important center for caravans of camels coming from the Sahara.