Search This Blog

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Walking on the wild side – Emlil Valley, Morocco

November 2012

I have just arrived in Marrakech, seen my old friend Redoine and caught up on news. He now has a small travel agency, off the Fna Jamal Place, and before I know it I am booked on a day trip to the Emlil Valley the following day! Whoa!!

I am to join two Dutch young ladies. Bright and early – but not too much – we are picked up by a small mini-bus and our driver starts making his way out of the city, in no time we are on a clear flat road driving towards the Atlas Mountains.  I have been here before but this time we take a turn left and go to a different valley.
The landscape changes as soon as we turn to a narrower road which starts climbing along the mountains.  On the right the high rocks and on the left the valley with the river, at first a dry bed with no water.  

The dry river bed
Mud houses blend in the landscape

The local ‘highway maintenance men’ are making repairs and are taking off debris and other stuff (bicycle, etc.) from the river bed in preparation for the rains.  

Highway maintenance river men

Emlil River valley

Stop and start on the road as there are lots of cars, carts and animals coming the opposite ways and huge holes and cracks on the road surface.  Alongside the road are also locals selling small wares or fruit & veg and also families on a day out, as it is Sunday after all.

The opposite side of the river bed has a hilly / mountainous landscape with perched up houses.  These are the typical homes made of mud and dirt in brown / red colour.  Outside the homes is hanging the washing on makeshift lines and small allotments are being tended.  Date trees nearby provide shade as well as fruits that will be soon sold.

Snow on the Atlas
Finally we arrive to our destination (Taourirt); here we are meeting a local guide – a young man (mid-20s/early 30) who is asking us how long we want to walk.  We opt for 3-4 hours long walk and we soon start off.
As we start our slow climb from the village, we meet locals all dressed up going down the way to the village.  They are dressed in their Sunday’s best.  Strange like everywhere is the same.... As we climb on the left is the old local mosque which is now abandoned as it made way to a more modern and larger one to accommodate the growing population.

As we continue to climb, the path becomes narrower and all around us we see orchards full of apples and walnuts trees.  While we climb the temperatures become a little cooler making climbing easier.  Our path goes through small villages / hamlets and homes. 

Old fashion ceilings

Apple and walnut orchards in the valley

Local children and chickens are sharing the path with us, up and down rickety steps, with the occasional grandma accompanied by young grandchildren.

I don’t know how long we climbed, I walk regularly but mainly flats – as I live in Hertfordshire there are not many mountains – and therefore I was feeling a little out of breath.  As I was the older in the group, very graciously the other two ladies in my party waited for me together with our guide.  After a while our guide suggested a stop.  By then we had reached a small group of houses and also arrived to our guide brother’s house which he also shared.  Inside the house we met his sister in law and his 6 years nephew.  

Roof cover
The house was small and inviting.  As you climbed a few steps to the main door, on the right was a small and dark room - the kitchen.  Inside the lady of the house was sitting on the floor kneading flour and water, the room was fairly empty and had a small oven that looked almost like a toy, where later she would bake the bread. 
Outside the kitchen - at the end of a passageway - was a living room, before it - on the left a curtained window (a bedroom?) - and on the right a balcony with a view of the valley we had been climbing up to then.  

The view was fantastic and it provided also an insight on local village life as we could see into people’s courtyards.  Trees, recycled containers containing geraniums and other flowering plants and herbs mixed with large dusty disks to receive television channels. 
View from the terrace

View from the terrace
We were offered the traditional mint tea and in a little while warm bread just baked accompanied with walnuts from one of the trees growing outside. Never bread, walnuts and tea had been more tasteful and satiating!

Inside our guide's home

Mint tea, local walnuts and freshly baked bread

6 year old enjoying playing games on an i-phone
In due course we resumed our walk, which was getting through paths that were becoming narrower by the step and were running deeper in the orchards. At the certain point we saw a large group of men working on a steep ravine. Apparently they were extending the ground to create a car park for the village. Imagine a long steep slope at the side of a road and men hanging on the slope and trying to put perches to create a platform sturdy and secure enough to hold vehicles. Hard to imagine even by having seen it with my eyes!
Building a car park
Let's build a car park!
Our walk continued and we got to a wider road like path snaking around the orchards now below us. We crossed with the occasional rambler / walker – usually from the West – walking their way through almost invisible cross country paths and making to towards the Atlas. Brave. 
The sun playing peeka-boo
Breathtaking views
Cultivation in the valley
Caught in the rain....and rainbow

Our walk came to an end exactly 3-4 hours after starting it in the same village where we started – reaching it from a different part that we had started – and near to a restaurant perched on a hill and with the most charming terrace with a gorgeous breathtaking view down below overlooking more valleys and orchards. 
Back in Taourirt
Spectacular views from restaurant's terrace

Omlette Moraccan style
Good traditional food concluded our visit before rejoining our mini-bus and returning to Marrakech later in the afternoon. Well worth it!

Leaving for Marrakech on our mini-bus

No comments:

Post a Comment