A Day in the High Atlas Mountains

Tali had another very difficult night, full of coughing and sneezing, but without the unpleasant side effects of the Nyquil she’s taken a couple of times, which she’s realized is a very powerful but not very beneficial “medicine,” that if anything, has made her feel worse… she felt far better this morning…still sick, but with a lot of the congestion gone. 

So after a very good breakfast at Kasbah Angour, we decided to go out for a long drive through the many Berber villages that are between here and the Parc National de Toubkal.  This is the national park that contains the highest mountains in Morocco (Jebel Toubkal is 4,167 meters high, which makes it the highest peak in all of North Africa).  

Amazingly, the entrance to this park is only a bit more than an hour from Marrakech – so beautiful, wild nature is still very accessible to both residents and visitors to Marrakech!  

We drove in a grand circle today, with the entire trip, including lots of time spent stopping and photographing, or just admiring the views, taking about seven hours.  

This is apple harvesting season up here in these mountains, as the cool weather, especially at night, speeds the ripening of the fruit.  Everywhere there were Berber men and women working on getting the fruit into wooden crates, then bringing the crates to the roadsides by mule.  

There were school children of all ages either walking or biking back to their homes after school was over for the day…most walked or biked more in the middle of the narrow road, than at the sides…as if they owned the road…which, I guess, really they do!  So I had to be very careful and drive very slowly, keeping my eyes peeled for kids darting in and out of the road on a whim…  And if we stopped to take some photos of the gorgeous landscape or mountainside villages where any of the kids could see us, they’d immediately start running to the car, to ask us for bonbons, or a dirham, or just to check out what we were doing…

There were also sellers of almost anything you could imagine, from fruit, to rocks sliced in half with incredibly colored crystals inside, to walnuts, to jewelry…anytime we stopped for more than a minute, they materialized from somewhere, to offer us something…  These roadside entrepreneurs were Berbers who had lots of experience talking with tourists, getting them to just have a look, and maybe to bargain for something that catches their eyes…

As we climbed higher up into the mountains, the road got increasingly isolated, from both other traffic, and from roadside sellers.  We could see, through the clouds and the mist, just a hint of the snow covered peak of Jebel Toubkal…we passed through many beautiful Berber villages, with steeply terraced fields for growing vegetables, and houses that seemed to be as organically a part of the landscape as the hills themselves, as if they have been here forever.  

We were happy to arrive back at our beautiful Kasbah home before sunset, after a great day out on these amazing mountain roads.  

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About juleslandsman

I live, when not traveling, in Sweetwater, Colorado, located in between Vail and Aspen, and in Kohukohu, a small town on the Hokianga Harbour in New Zealand. I write travelogues, memoirs, and reflections when I'm not skiing, biking, or otherwise outdoors. I retired recently from a career in the financial services industry that spanned more than twenty-five years.
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