After travelling through the Atlas Mountains from Midelt we travelled through Errachidia until we came to the River Ziz Gorge. Our tour bus stopped near the edge of the gorge in one spot so that we could get out and wander over to the edge of the gorge to get some good photos.
The River Ziz Gorge is truly spectacular and meanders through this part of Morocco for about 140 kilometres. One of the features of this gorge is the enormous number of date palms. In fact, our guide told us that they number over one million trees. And yes – they have actually been counted! I don’t think I would like that job – you just figure out why!
Soon after stopping our bus a local date seller came along and we bought several boxes of the local produce. For the next few days we enjoyed sharing in this delicious fruit.
One of the many things I learned about Morocco on our tour there several years ago was that it is far from being a country of hot deserts and sand – lots of sand. Sure – we saw plenty of sand on our tour, but I will write more of that in a few days’ time.
Morocco is also a country of great beauty, not just in the stunning architecture, but also in the grandeur of its mountains. Several times we passed through and over the Atlas Mountains which divide the east from the western parts of the nation. These mountains are truly immense and grand, and being the middle of winter when we were there (December) the highest passes were very cold.
While we didn’t actually see it snowing while we were there, we saw plenty of snow on the higher peaks (see photo below). Whenever we emerged from the tour bus to stretch our legs, or grab a coffee or take a few more photos, we would always grab our coats against the bitter mountain air.
After our overnight stay in the central Moroccan town of Midelt our tour bus took a short drive off the highway and through some of the local farming districts. We stopped and then went on a short walk through some farms. I always found it interesting on our tour of Morocco and Spain to compare these countries with the rural areas I know so well here in South Australia. There are many similarities except for the style of houses and the imposing Atlas Mountains shown in the photo above.
And you don’t see too many donkeys here in South Australia.
One of the farms (shown below) was obviously an orchard of some kind. I am guessing that it is likely to be apples growing here. The area around Midelt is a plateau between the Middle Atlas and the High Atlas Mountains. The higher altitude – over 1500 metres – would be most suitable for apple growing.
The final photo today is of our tour guide, Said. He was a wonderful guide willing to share his local knowledge of all things Moroccan. He lives in Marrakech with his family. He actually left his wife with a week old baby to go on our tour.
The Atlas Mountains of Morocco are spectacular without a covering of snow. The snow just adds another dimension to an otherwise spectacular scenery. The photos I am showing today were taken on our way from Fes to Midelt where we stayed for the night.
While it appears that the mountains had a good covering of snow, our guide Said told us that the snow season was late and to that point (December 23rd) the snow fall had be very light.
Although you can’t see it in the photos, somewhere on those slopes there were well established and popular ski runs.
At one point as we were traversing the Atlas Mountains our guide asked our driver to stop on the side of the road so that we could get out and take a few photos of the scenery. As soon as we stopped one of the local boys rode quickly up to us on his donkey. Because he had a number of large plastic containers strapped to his animal, I assumed he was on his way to fetch some water for his family.
It turned out that he an entrepreneurial streak in his character. As soon as he arrived he insisted on being paid so that we could take his photo. I think some of the touring party obliged. We also gave him some dates we had bought the day before.