After being in Marrakech for five days, we finally got out of town on a field trip! Before we left Texas, I partnered with TripAdvisor to book a few excursions using their huge selection of “Things To Do” options. If you’re ever in need of booking any kind of tour, or cooking class, or balloon ride or even a behind the scenes type of outing, I highly recommend using TripAdvisor. Travelers already flock there for the real reviews and ratings of hotels, restaurants, and cities, (I know we do), so you can feel comfortable booking a side trip or tour using their site as well, as they only work with trusted vendors. Knowing your money and safety is taken care of means a lot, especially in unfamiliar countries.
So, when 9am rolled around, we were picked up right at the door of our Riad and carried into the Atlas Mountains. Along the way we stopped a few times to take photos of sweeping vistas and ancient villages (one was 1600 years old!). We also stopped at an Argon Oil Cooperative, where we learned how the oils are made and the uses…of which there are many! From cooking, to bathing, to lotions, they make the most out of everything! Next up? A camel ride along the river! We hopped on our uncomfortable rides and continued along the overfull river (it was SO red, and very full from the week of unexpected rains, in fact, the rains were so bad that bridges and many roads were destroyed. Not great news for Morocco.) But, we survived the trek and left the camels behind, ready to make our way higher into the mountains.
Once back in the van, we gained lots of altitude, leaving behind the 90 degree temps of Marrakech and enjoyed the much cooler air 1700 meters above sea level. We wound and twisted and turned up hairpin roads of gravel and pavement that were barely wide enough to travel, amazed at the view from every new turn. We learned that this is the road Tom Cruise was famously driving in Mission Impossible 5 (without a helmet!)- so that was a fun surprise!
Once we reached Imlil, the small village in the mountains, we knew we would be having mint tea at a traditional Berber home. As it turns out, our guide, Sayed, is a Berber, and it was HIS home! He pointed out a small hamlet of homes perched on the side of a mountain, about a mile away. What looked to us to be maybe 100 homes, stacked row after row, is in fact 1100, and 7000 people live there. In winter, only the capable men leave, as snow surrounds the homes and it is too difficult to leave. There is no road, only paths, and small passageways lead between each of the homes where multiple generations share living space.
Of course…THAT village is where we were having tea, so we had to get there! A mile of trekking over hills and up pathways where mules were carrying supplies lead us to Sayed’s home, and every other person stopped to greet him. Once we arrived, we were served mint tea from his roof, where he lives with 8 family members, and he is the main provider for them all. The view was stunning, and we were all excited to see the places he pointed out, but what we didn’t plan for, however, was a hike!!
Oh yes…a hike.
Miles of hiking.
I had on the slipperiest gym shoes ever made, so trudging over rocks and through creeks and by waterfalls was a difficult venture, but we made it!! All in all, we walked nearly 6 miles, and ended up at a hostel overlooking the valley for a traditional tajine lunch. It was delicious! The chicken was juicy and the vegetables just perfect…Rusty is wanting to cook everything in a tajine now!
I made a quick video for you to see a glimpse of our day, hopefully you’ll get to see what it was like for yourself! If you have any questions, please let us know!
Also, a huge thanks to TripAdvisor for this excursion. All thoughts and opinions are my own.