The Atlas Mountains was one of the most magnificant day trips that we have ever experienced.
We were three days into our trip in Marrakesh and after spending 12+ hour days exploring the city, things were all starting to gradually look the same. The souk's had exhausted us and the polluted air from the hundreds of buzzing motorbikes were becoming a little over bearing on our lungs and nostrils. We needed a rest from this fast paced city and slightly over bearingly in-your-face Moroccan's within the Medina walls. We wondered what life in Morocco was like outside of Marrakesh so explored our options.
The Atlas Mountains and the Sahara desert were the two most popular recommended day trips from Marrakesh. We decided the Atlas Mountains would truly give us the experience we were after as we would cover a lot of ground in a full day trip. I am not particuarly brave at driving in foregin countries and therefore we sourced a private tour to gain the full experience. We were SO excited to be treated to a full day of travel.
Our guide picked us up early from our accommodation. He firstly drove us from Marrakesh through to Imlil Valley stopping for many opportunities to take pictures of the beautiful landscape. Our guide was very proud that his country was recently home to the newly released (then, in 2015) James Bond movie. We drove past a very large house which we were told is one of Sir Richard Branson's many homes (or more so resort), situated in the open spaces of the mountains. He spoke so highly of Morocco and how he is dissapointed by the ongoing negative media behind Morocco being an unsafe place for tourists to visit. Although I think there is a much better understanding now (in 2018), I can safely say that I felt very comfortable in Morocco and Marrakesh that I ongoingly recommend friends and family to visit.
Following many stops to take wonderful photos, we then were guided to the much anticipated ride on two lovely camels. Camel riding in the Moroccan landscape was truly memorable. The ride lasted 20 minutes max (roughly 8 minutes of that was stopping to take pictures of us on the camels), but it was a nice bucketlist 'tick' moment.
After this, we made our way to the Berber Village to visit the weekday markets and the local produce on offer. This was probably the part of the trip which made us realise how real the living conditions are in rural Morocco in comparison to the Western World, or at the very least the United Kingdom.
While exploring the markets we heard a young boy screaming his lungs out. Our guide took us towards the boy who was in a small room with kids and adults all crowded around. The young boy, we were told, had broken his arm and as there is limited medical aid in the Berber villages his father was trying to manipulate his broken bone back into place. If not manipulated back into place, the boys arm would remain broken and heal incorrectly. To be exposed to such pain from a young boy, over a simple medical fix back home, was quite upsetting and frankly overhelming. We were quickly moved on by our guide to have a look at the produce on sale around the market. We however could not help but think, what if something more serious had happened to that little boy?
Following the village our next stop was at the women's Argan Oil Co-operative. Personally we enjoyed this quick stop as it was an opportunity to find out how Argan Oil is made from scratch. The women are so strong to work in this job day in and out. There is a store at the end of the tour where you can buy Argan Oil for almost anything you can possibly think of. Yes, most of it is overpriced. So if you do not want to buy a product, maybe spare some change for the ladies working. I can only imagine how little these women get paid.
High Atlas Mountains
Our last stop, and most favourite of all, was in the High Atlas mountains. Here we enjoyed a lunch prepared by a Berber family with this stunning view.
We started with a mint tea.
Followed by a large lunch for the two of us and our tour guide. We were barely able to finish it there was so much food.
With bellies full and a few more pictures, we reluctantly returned to Marrakesh.
The tour costs as as little as £30-35 each for the entire day. Has anyone else done a similar tour and recommend any other tours or places we missed?