A day in the mountains, following the trail of the Berbers

The Atlas Mountain was exceptionally warm and dry for February

After making sure I got the biggest camel that was leading the caravan, we had a nice hour long ride, dressed in Berber robes. The ride was half guided by one of the locals, half him pretending to leave us alone to the “mercy of the camels” (they had no reins). It was a fun morning. There was an improv photo session when our guide took the cameras and then proceeded to take photos from some professional looking angles. Life was good.

Our camel caravan

Our trip to Morocco had been Saturday to Saturday with the first 4 nights spent in Marrakech and the other 3 nights in Fes. 3 full days in Marrakech is more than enough to see the city so we decided to spend one day on a trip to the Atlas Mountains. I booked the trip over Airbnb and the price was more than affordable, about 23 pounds per person (lunch, transport and guide included). There are quite a few day trips from Marrakech (and Fes) which you can book once you arrive. You will find the big boards advertising different locations at several sales point throughout the city. We have not tried any of these, but the two girls that had been staying in our Airbnb had booked one of the trips and had really enjoyed it.

The day trip started with the sunrise camel ride. However, by the time we got to our camels, the sun was already peeking over the horizon. Nevertheless, it was definitely a fun way to start a Monday! With some calculations, I got the biggest, baddest camel, the Big White that was leading the caravan of 6 camels (there were another 2 couples on this trip with us). The husband got a shaggy brown camel that kept trying to bite my one’s butt.

Once we got off our ships of the desert, we sat on low stools around a small table placed in the middle of nowhere. This is where we had a Berber style tea party. Sipping on mint tea, eating Moroccan biscuits, we chatted with Ahmed, our guide for the day. He is such an interesting person, full of knowledge! We stayed there longer than planned discussing the political situation in Morocco, the corruption and other ins and outs of living in the country.

Photo is taken from https://thetreeographer.com/. Check the whole article here

Next stop – breakfast at the women-run Argan Oil Cooperative. This is where we tried Amlou with some fresh Moroccan bread. Dear god people, Nutella has nothing on this spreadable bit of heaven! A mix of honey, argan oil and almonds it has the most peculiar sweet taste and is absolutely delish! And, of curse, you can buy some while there. After polishing off almost everything the ladies put in front of us, we had a go at smashing some argan nuts. Fun fact, argan nuts grow on “goat trees”. You know what trees I am talking about, we have all seen pictures of goats just chilling in tree branches like it is something all goats do all round the world.

First ever Berber settlement behind us.

With our bellies full, we got back on the road towards Imlil, a small village at 1800 m above sea level in the Atlas Mountain. Twisty, almost deserted roads took us by the dried up river bed and pass Richard Branson’s fancy Kasbah hotel popular with the rich and famous. We took a few scenic stops along the way, one of which was to see the view of the first ever Berber settlement (the name escapes me now, if someone knows the answer, please tell me). Once at Imlil, we started our way towards the waterfall, our penultimate stop.

The way took us through goat paths, over streams and meadows. There were no sounds apart from the sounds of nature and our guide telling us different stories and about Berber history. We had a few stops for views of Toubkal, the highest peak in Morocco and the Arab World, standing at 4167 m high. The weather was unusually warm for February and after a chilli morning we didn’t need our jackets anymore. There was no snow and there was no rain for a fair while so the river that usually runs near by was dry. Ahmed told us that February usually has snow up to your knees. But yeah, climate change is a myth…

I had thought that the waterfalls were the end of the hike. Actually, I was hoping for it, my knee was not happy with our route and the husband is too skinny to give me a piggyback ride. As you can probably guess, I was wrong… Several photos and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice later, we left the waterfalls and continued towards Ahmed’s home. But it was not downhill. Oh no, that would be too simple! We continued going up. The rocks became steeper and it started looking very close to climbing them and not hiking. Don’t get me wrong, the higher we went the more we saw. And then we reached a road and the last leg of our trip was on one level.

We had our lunch at the roof terrace of Ahmed’s family home with a 180 degree view of the mountains and Toubkal. Sun was shining and the food was plentiful; our “humble” lunch consisted of three big tajines, a big plate of couscous and two plates of salad. It smelled so good that soon we had their 6 cats for company. It was funny chatting to people and then seeing this paw come up and try and swipe the food of your plate. You can see by the photos below the cats were as content with the food as were we. It was such a nice ending to this day trip.

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