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In The Footsteps of Berbers - Ivan Baxter & Denis Hamill

Blog post   •   Dec 06, 2013 14:12 GMT

A group from the Northern Ireland Civil Service Rambling Club travelled to Morocco from 10 to 17 October 2013 for our latest of a long list of holidays with Ramblers Holidays. This was a walking holiday with a difference: different country, different terrain, different culture. Our base was the beautiful city of Marrakech, with its huge market and miles of souks. Our walking programme started with a guided, all-day walking tour of all the main sights to see in Marrakech (to name just a few; the Saadian Tombs, Bahia Palace, Katoubia Mosque, Djemma El Fna Square and its myriad of souks – market stalls/artisan workshops), together with visits to a carpet-making co-operative and a herbalist/pharmacy. Mint teas were on offer everywhere!!

Photo courtesy of Ivan Baxter

Our walks were:-

Moulay Brahim to Asni via the Kik Plateau (12km,226m ascent/280 descent);
Orika River Valley and Setti Fatma (12km, 300m ascent/descent);
Tanahout and Mountain Forest (10km 200m ascent/descent
Asni to Tassa Ouirgane (14km, 220m ascent/220descent)

Photo courtesy of Ivan Baxter

These walks took place in the foothills of the Atlas Mts, south of Marrakech and required coach transport (about 1hr each way) to the start. The coach trips were an absolute delight through stunningly beautiful scenery and the walking, through Berber villages and forest tracks, always offered a variety of landscapes, from arid desert – where the Berbers scratch a living from the soil, such as it is, and graze flocks of sheep and goats on the sparse vegetation – to the lush greenery of the more tourist-orientated river valleys. Although the walking statistics, as above, do not seem overly demanding, when one factors in the heat of the day (32-34C degrees), we were all ready for a quick dip in the hotel pool and a brief pre-dinner lie-down after each walk!

Photo courtesy of Ivan Baxter

Many thanks to our Ramblers Walks Leader, Alison Mellor and our trusty Berber local guide, Abdul, for all their hard work in bringing everything together in such a friendly and patient way.

Walks apart, some of us also managed to fit in trips to the very attractive, laid-back seaside resort of Essaouira, while others made the very comfortable 3hour train journey to Casablanca. Well, for all the Humphrey Bogart fans in the group, this was an absolute must-see (even if the movie was entirely shot in the studios in Hollywood !)

Photo courtesy of Ivan Baxter

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