Over recent weeks, I have been sharing many of my photos taken during a tour of Morocco. You can look back through these posts to read them, or you can use the archives to search for them – the link is above the title of this post.
Over the two weeks of our tour, we saw many magnificent buildings, especially those featuring mosaic tiles. These really caught our attention and we enjoyed visiting such buildings. Part way through our tour we spent two nights in the Dades Valley, a predominantly Berber region of the country. Here the architecture was quite different, as shown in today’s photos. One part of this area is the is known as the Road of the Thousand Kasbahs on which we travelled on our way to Skoura.
One of the architectural features of this region is the adobe buildings of the Berbers, as shown in today’s photos. These old kasbahs are mud structures, either made from mud-bricks or rammed earth. (If this is wrong, could my readers please enlighten me. Our guide was not forthcoming on this matter, and I didn’t ask.)
Many of the old kasbahs are no longer inhabited. A more modern building style in this area is also shown below. It may also be made from mud bricks, but the outer walls have a rendering which makes it look very stylish indeed. I suspect that this modern home may also have been made using local stone which is plentiful in this mountainous region of the Atlas Mountains.
After our long four-hour walk down the Dades Valley – I wrote about that in my last post – we had a delicious lunch in the sunshine on the terrace of the Hotel du Vieux Chateau du Dades. Being at a high altitude in the Atlas Mountains, the air was cold and crisp. Sitting on this terrace (shown in the photo above) we enjoyed the warming sun as we ate. The surrounding cliffs gave a very grand view as we ate.
Enjoying the sunshine
After lunch, most of our touring party decided to walk up the road for half an hour to have coffee near the top of the pass on the road leading north. My wife, daughter and I were too tired from the morning walk to contemplate more walking, so we stayed behind, enjoying the last of the weak afternoon sunshine. After the sun went behind the nearby cliffs, we retreated inside quickly to the warmth of the fireplace at one end of the restaurant.
A warm fireplace
The fireplace was also popular with other guests of the hotel and it was a matter of taking it in turns to get warm. I must say that all in our family really enjoy an open fire. The high cost of firewood makes this increasingly expensive in Australia, but we are pleased that we have a limited supply of firewood on our own property at our home in South Australia. We always have to supplement this with firewood bought from a dealer.
All through our six-week trip, I kept a diary, and parts of these blog posts originate from my diary. So in the evenings, I often spent a half hour or so updating my diary. I also decided before leaving home that I would emulate the achievement of a friend of mine. On an overseas trip, she decided to capture her impressions of her journeying by aiming to write at least one poem a day. I achieved my goal. My friend has since published some of these poems in book form. That joy still awaits me – stay tuned because that is in my plans too. Sitting near to the fireplace in our hotel was an ideal writing spot. Chatting with fellow travellers was another delight.
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.
It has been quite a while since the last time I shared some of my photos and experiences while travelling Morocco. Over coming days and weeks I intend continuing with this series subject to my health. For all of the old photos and articles go to my archives (see task bar under the title).
Our overnight stay in Midelt was a memorable one. One of the more beautiful places we stayed in was the Hotel Kasbah Asmar. As usual in Morocco mosaics feature prominently in the buildings. Our hotel was no exception as the photos below illustrate. Our room was comfortable and spacious and we slept well. We did try to do a bit of hand washing in the bath tub and we were worried that it would not dry overnight. Hanging it in front of the heaters certainly helped in this. The food was also a feature and was delicious – like everywhere we stayed in Morocco. The sumptuous spread for breakfast was one of the best.
Midelt is an easy drive east of Fes and is situated between the Middle Atlas and High Atlas Mountains on a high plateau making it one of cooler towns in Morocco. There is often snow on the surrounding mountains in winter. It certainly was cool when we were there in late December.
Midelt is a relatively new town of some 45,000 population. It is a commercial centre for the local mining industry with gypsum, lead and other minerals being mined in the region. Fossils are also mined in this area and these are made into all kinds of objects for sale, mainly to tourists. The town also supports a large agricultural industry. Farmers bring their produce into the local market. Locally grown fruit and vegetables as well as goats and sheep for meat and wool are the main farm products.
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.