Morocco is famous for its many unique festivals but one in particular is not to be missed - the International Festival of Nomads
An open-air event in harmony with nature and with the nomads' world, the International Festival of Nomads is a forum for freely expressing and exchanging ideas in a friendly environment, showcasing a civilisation of children, women and men with a strong cultural identity of the values and wisdom that are the legacy of their ancestors.
Various cultural activities highlight the tangible and intangible heritage of the nomadic tribes and contributing to preserving their cultural identity. Economic and social solutions are presented during the conferences and workshops, to encourage collective and associative initiatives and open new opportunities to local development.
Set in a colourful and exotic setting, the 14th Nomads Festival will be once again a great meeting of nomadic cultures, an exploration for the visitors and a model for the younger generations, who have an opportunity to open up to new borders while preserving their traditions .
An ode to the discovery of another culture and to the familiarisation of the history of the Saharan nomads, the festival was initiated by the Association Nomades du Monde, thanks to the vision of its director Noureddine Bougrab. This Arabic teacher had the primary goal of "involving young people" in this adventure.
The event, which is free and citizen-oriented, allows for "three days of music, debates, games, dromedary races, gastronomy and crafts that make the whole region live" Life and to bring it closer to this way of life, the same source said.
Thursday 16, Friday 17 and Saturday 18 March 2017, the public is invited to M'Hamid El Ghizlane, in the province of Zagora to join this most musical celebration. Indeed, this edition will be marked by the participation of Tuareg guitarist Bombino and the Malian group Terakaft, among others. The kingdom will be represented by the legendary group Nass El Ghiwane, the rising star of the Gnawas Mehdi Nassouli, the Sahrawi diva Saïda Charaf, the rocker Mohamed Jbara as well as the traditional dancers of Ahwach de Ouarzazate.
During the festival there will be three days of conferences, round tables and workshops are offered on various subjects: nomadism, heritage, flora, fauna, agriculture, environmental protection, economy, health and education.
The culinary art is present through one of the essential preparations in the desert: sand bread (mella).
And there is sport, with a demonstration of nomadic hockey and a camel race called "ellaz".
|sand bread preparation|
M'hamid El Ghizlane ("the plain of gazelles"), the last village before the vast expanses of the Sahara, is a rural municipality of the Zagora province, in the southern Drâa - Tafilalet region. It is located at the end of the N9 road, after Tamegroute, and it shares its southern border with Algeria.
An ancient cultural crossroads - its territory used to be a stop for trans-Saharan traders - M'hamid El Ghizlane is part of a nomadic area. With its little adobe shacks made of mud or clay bricks, the little ocher village seems to come right out of sand.
The climate is dry, with high temperatures in the summer, and cool in winter. The landscape is arid. Due to the land's barrenness and dryness, and the shifting national borders, a great number of nomads have abandoned their itinerant lifestyle. However, the people of M'hamid treasure the traditions of their ancient lifestyle, and preserve the noble legacy of their ancestors.
M'hamid El Ghizlane is sheltered in a palm grove stretching for 16 km along the river Drâa (oued Drâa). One of the banks is M'hamid Bali, the old town, which holds an important kasbah. On the other side, M'hamid Jdid, (the new village), offers essential facilities: groceries, craft shops, cafes, restaurants, family hotels and tourist agencies.
|The legendary Nass El Ghiwane will perform at the festival|
Every Monday there is a souk, an opportunity to see the famous "blue men", desert camel-herders, and to buy local products, bathed in the colours and fragrances of these goods.
Getting there is easy. M'hamid El Ghizlane is accessible from the international airport of Ouarzazate and then by road to Zagora. There are rental cars at the airport or in town. Local transport is available with regular bus connections. The CTM (Compagnie des Transports du Maroc) is present in all bus stations
For accommodation, visitors can choose between different categories of hotels, riads, guesthouses or desert camps. M'hamid El Ghizlane has established itself as the main departure point for desert excursions, especially to the dunes of Erg Lehoudi and Erg Chegaga.