As we journeyed through mid-eastern Morocco I took what photographic opportunities I could manage through the window of our mini-bus. Sometimes this was not successful and occasionally I managed to get reflections from the glass, but most of the time I took reasonable shots of the rural landscape.
As we travelled in a generally south easterly direction from Fes we went through some mountainous areas as well as flat plateau farming areas. The further east we travelled the less that the land was actually cultivated. Instead we saw numerous examples of people living a semi-nomadic lifestyle, tending to their large flocks of goats and sheep.
Sometimes we saw farmhouses and shedding like those shown in the photo above. On other occasions we saw extensive dwellings which looked like tents. Frequently we saw people tending their animals like shepherds in centuries gone by. They seemed to wander far from their dwellings and certainly in some quite remote localities. Like shepherds have done for millennia, they have to wander from one food source to the next.
I come from a farming background. The first 15 or so years of my life were spent living on my father’s farm in the Murray Mallee district of South Australia. Although I spent most of my working life in a school classroom, I still have a close affinity with the land. Today in retirement I still own a small “farm”, albeit only 5 acres in size and I no longer keep any chickens, ducks and sheep like I used to some years ago.
Wherever we travel I take a keen interest in the countryside as we journey, keeping an eye out not only for birds (birding is a passion of mine) but also casting an eye over the farming countryside. So it was with great interest that I watched the passing farmland practices while journeying through Morocco. Previously I have commented on the similarities that the rural environment in Morocco has with parts of South Australia. There are, however, many contrasts too, as illustrated in today’s photos.
I don’t know what breed of sheep are shown in the photo above, but they are significantly different from the common Merino breed we have here in SA. We also saw many goats in Morocco, something you tend not to see in the cereal growing areas at home.
On our tour of Morocco we were constantly amazed at the appearance of the country. It was not at all like we had imagined. Many times we remarked how similar parts of the countryside was to South Australia.
Other parts were very different. The photo above was taken near the skiing resort of Ifrane. Now we don’t have ski fields here in South Australia – it very rarely snows here – but we do have rolling hills like those we saw in this area. The tree clad hills were so similar to those in the mid north of our state or even parts of the Adelaide Hills near home.
This is certainly not the typical scene I expected to see while on a visit to Morocco. Our tour took us up into a mountainous area near the ski resort of Ifrane. The forest area was beautiful, not unlike that in the Adelaide Hills here in South Australia, or the area around Mt Macedon north of Melbourne – or perhaps even the Katoomba area in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.
The main reason our tour took us to this area was to see the monkeys that are resident in this forest.
We didn’t see the monkeys – but the scenery mostly made up for our disappointment.
For those who are interested, the animal in question is the Barbary macaque which is found in various habitats in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria. A small population of unknown origin can be found at Gibraltar, the only wild population of monkeys in Europe. You can read more here.
As we travelled through the country regions of eastern Morocco we couldn’t help but be astounded how it is like parts of South Australia near where we live.
Apart from the housing being somewhat different many things were very familiar. We don’t have as many donkeys here, and fewer goats. The sheep are also a different breed.