Monday, 4 August 2014

Atlas Mountains and Erfoud - travel diary

Day 5: Drive over the Middle Atlas to Erfoud

Turning south today we climbed steadily into the dramatic landscapes of the Middle Atlas, heading first towards to Immouzer and Ifrane and passing near the small mountain village of Azrou, which in the Berber tongue translates as ‘the rock’. This is the land of the fiercely independent Berbers, the “Lords of the Atlas”, whose traditions and ways still hold sway up here in their mountain strongholds far away from life lost to the rest of North Africa, where music and dance, even the cities below. 

Last night we experienced heavy rains which, whilst driving through the Atlas mountains was following the rules of gravity and was making its way down the mountains via any means necessary which included the roads. Many cars had to turn back as the water was too deep for them in some areas. Our minibus was ok. There were a number of boulders which were brought along with the water which made this quite a dangerous drive. I only saw two accidents and both were near misses for us. The picture shows a little of what we experienced.

Traditional Fes Dress
The Berbers are far removed from their arab neighbours and provided me with a unique view of a way of language and religion I knew little about. The minibus continued into Berber sheep-raising country and headed to Timadite and over the Col du Zad, before crossing the Tizi N’Tairhemt ‘Camel Pass’and continuing via the Gorge du Ziz to Er Rachidia. We traversed a broad plateau past Meski Oasis, the so-called ‘Blue Spring’ bordering the arid desert plains.

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