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Wandering in Morocco - Ian Pearce

Blog post   •   Dec 27, 2013 12:14 GMT

Pearce - feature image

Hi Moroccan Ramblers!

Viv and I were enthralled with our rambling holiday in Morocco with you all which proved to give us a wide range of diverse places to experience and peoples to meet – all in all it was a highly rewarding experience made all the better by the committed, caring and expert leadership of Mike and the supportive services provided by our local guides and coach team. We found the historic Medina of Marrakech with its medieval narrow streets fascinating though parts of the city were touristy, crowded and over-commercialised.

The “real” Morocco for us was to be found in the Berber villages of the Atlas ranges and the south in the wonderfully multi-cultural main towns like Tinerhir or smaller towns in the mountains such as Agdz shown below where peoples from all over Africa including sub-Saharan regions live together displaying a mixture of different cultures and life styles evidenced by the traditional and modern clothing from European-dressed professionals and shopkeepers to nomadic tribes in traditional clothes!

Tinerhir – old and new Morocco – early morning looking north towards the Atlas Mountains over the irrigated Palmeries of the Todra Valley – note the old mud and stone Casbah only partly lived in now and the new “concrete” Morocco!

Looking south-east over the Palmeries of the Todra Valley near Tinerhir – good mesas – not so good unfinished concrete houses!!

Berber Market near Tinerhir – the diversity of peoples, cultures and clothes were wonderful!

Nomadic tribes people with their goat herd passing through the lower Todra Gorge with sheer cliffs rising 250 metres – Chris Bonnington’s favourite climbing country as the red mudstone is hard and not crumbly.

The sand and stone Saharan desert on route to Merzouga – remembered for a great well and ageless animal watering scene plus hot goats, hot camels, hot sand and hot ramblers!

One of the sights of the world – sunrise over the Saharan sand dunes at Erg Chebbi.

Ramblers take to camels – next stop Timbuktu after 52 days in the desert

The Sahara desert – walking the sand dunes is not just hard work in 38C but the slopes can be very steep and the soft sand can suddenly become concrete hard propelling naive walkers into a running fall! Great experience as was the Nomad Palace Hotel at Merzouga!

A geographer’s dream landscape!  Dramatic mesa or table top mountain ridges capped by flat layers of hard limestone and wide flat Wadi arid valleys – this is the spectacular lower Draa valley and the 10km wide valley was cut during the Ice Ages when fluvial conditions were pushed south by glacial and periglacial conditions over Europe – taken from my seat in the coach on my Blackberry – the long distances on roads that permit only a max of 35-40mph can take time to reach distant places but we had our maps and travel books and this to wonder at!

The Ramblers’ group being briefed by Abdul in the dry Draa valley with the abandoned Jewish village crumbling in the background.

Street scenes – Agdz climbing back over the Anti-Atlas Mountains – old mud and stone houses and newish concrete stand side by side but nothing seems “finished” or in good repair in northern European terms – though the people we met were warm and friendly – everyone knows the word “welcome!”

Bikes, cars and donkeys make up the backstreet scene of Agdz.

Agdz marketplace – good local Tagines in the background store

Deeply incised valley in the arid Anti-Atlas range indicate the power of fluvial erosion in the wet periods during the Ice Ages in northern Europe

Casbah (old fortified village) – Ait Bin Haddou – Atlas Mountains with more mesas (table top mountains).

Many thanks to Mike and the whole group for all the support and friendly conversations over so many great meals and the highly worthwhile holiday experience – I have completed the questionnaire sending an A++ report to Ramblers’ HQ! I am preparing the promised summary of the geomorphology of the places we visited notably the Atlas gorges and arid Wadi valleys with their mesa ridges and will send this out ASAP.


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