Walking in the High Atlas Mountains

16.June 2013

Our Journey

I have intimated my love of deserts in a previous post and it is time to explore that idea some more. If / when we are based in Europe or at least travelling in the area, heading to Morocco looks like a good option to get some of that taste of wide open spaces. For Europeans, heading out on holidays to Morocco has been popular from before the time of hippies. Most people on holidays like to take a few days for souvenir shopping in the local markets and towns like Marrakech are excellent places to stock up on gifts for home. Having a more nomadic lifestyle, we tend not to collect while travelling because there isn’t anywhere to deposit the collection other than in our backpack. The backpack has limited capacity.

Photo Credit: suitablyawesome

For us, heading out to explore the countryside and getting a bit more physical is the direction. That direction in Morocco is towards the Atlas mountains. The mountain range stretches for 2500 km acting as a wall between the waters, the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and the Sahara. They cross Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia with the highest peak in Morocco reaching over 4000 metres. This is not a ramble in the hills, hiking in the Atlas mountains can be truly challenging.

Photo Credit: JustinWoolford

For people who are not familiar with mountainous areas, there is a tendency to think that being closer to the equator things should be warmer. That would be true down near sea level. Up at altitude and in the more desert like areas, things can get frigid especially at night. Camping out will require more than a blanket. If you are like us and don’t have a closet full of cold weather camping gear, then looking for a local guide or tour company is a good idea to make sure we are properly kitted out. Also, my Arabic is non-exisitent so it would be good to have some help with talking to people or reading signs along the way.

Photo Credit: theboybg

What I look forward to on a hiking adventure like this is the wide open views. It is one of the things I most enjoy about hiking in desert like or alpine areas. There aren’t all of those pesky trees blocking the view. I find having the view much more relaxing because there isn’t a bear or mountain lion hiding behind the next tree. If there is one, I will see it from across the valley hopefully. Other than wildlife, there is just something more contemplative about the slow reveal of scenery as I walk around a hillside instead of getting only quick glimpses between the trees. There is something magical about watching a sunrise start to bathe a valley from the tops of the mountains, down the valley walls until it finally warms the floor. Or the subtle winking out of light at sunset as the shadows take back the valley and wiping the light off the top of the peaks at the end of the day.

Photo Credit: metamoof

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