Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A drive through the middle Atlas mountains

In Morocco we were advised to calculate driving times using a 60km/ph average.  So while the distances didn’t appear that large, the time to drive them had to be factored in.  We needed to get from the desert to Fes but didn't want an 8 hour driving day so decided to break the journey in Azrou – still a good six hour drive. 

The scenery was superb, changing from desert to oasis then from to high country to an orchard farming fruit bowl area.  It rivaled NZ for diversity of scenery.  Most of the pictures were taken from a moving car – so it is a wonder any came out!

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Every day we have seen women gathering greenery and feed for the animals.  It seems to be a female job, although occasionally there is a man doing it, but he is always riding or leading a donkey.  Women always have the feed on their backs

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Through the high country we saw a large number of sheep being grazed and a number of tents.  We eventually worked out this was summer grazing and that the people were nomadic and would move when the passes were closed by snow. 

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We stopped in the small town of Midelt for lunch and chose our restaurant from the lonely planet.  It didn't sound promising with “ a favourite stop for bus tours, but at least it means there is a good turnover of food”.  But the other options were pretty limited in a town that is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  So with relatively low expectations we went in and sat down.  There were no bus tours and only 3 tables of locals – not looking good.  But the food was amongst he best we had on the trip – go figure.  The simple oranges with cinnamon were a lovely end.

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We ended the day in Azrou which is part of an area described as little Switzerland.  The architecture is distinctly European with pitched roofs  - to deal with the snow.  There are even ski-fields around here.  There are also a lot of cedar forests, with so-called Barbary apes which turned out to be from the Macaque family – naughty monkeys as we saw in Borneo, which are not particularly appealing!

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Our base for one night was La Perle d’Azrou – a very nice farm stay where we had a 2nd superb meal for the day.

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