LET’S MEET SAÏDA & NOURREDINE, A DAY WALK IN THE MOROCCAN MOUNTAINS
Adventure, total escape, human encounters, discovery…
Morocco allows to live adventures “OUT OF NORMS”. There are deserts, mountains, an ocean (a sea too) and a wild nature. There are villages that seem to be at the end of the world, mud houses (100% natural) and encounters that you cannot forget. Encounters that change the way you look at your daily lives. Morocco is the gateway to Africa. Only 15 kilometers from Spain, this geographical area was the gateway for many explorers, nomads and adventurers. After the high mountains of the Atlas, Africa as far as the eye can see …
You will live the life of the “nomads” who have traveled the world to bring back spices, fabrics and jewels. You will feel the caravans that have traveled the tracks to come and exchange their goods. You will sleep in a medieval town, fortified by ramparts, built in 1071 by the Almoravides (the medina of Marrakech).
And above all you will have the chance to discover the beautiful chain of the Atlas and its small Berber villages. Today we would like to introduce two extraordinary people who will open the doors of their homes and their lives: Saïda and Nourredine. Follow us for new adventures in Berber Land.
In the High Atlas, 800 meters above sea level, along the river… Saïda.
Saïda is an outstanding woman. Incredibly kind, she likes to receive people from all over the world to share a tajine made of her garden products, walk along the river, visit a Berber village (an old mud village) and… “Take Time”.
To get there it’s simple: follow the south to cross the stone desert of Agafay. Enter the canyon, go around the hills and follow the tracks to the south. You could believe yourself “on the moon”.
If you go in autonomy, be careful to stay on the marked trails of pebbles painted in “red”. Otherwise… you risk losing yourself.
Then join the lake at the foot of the High Atlas and Toubkal to drive west along the Kik plateau. You must follow the river that feeds Lake Lalla Takerkroust. At the bridge, turn right, then left on the small path.
The landscapes are magnificent. We are in Berber Land, facing the High Atlas. The chain of the Atlas is 700 km long, forming a comma, from the north (of the Mediterranean Sea) to the southwest (to the Atlantic) towards Agadir. Behind it stands the Sahara, the largest desert in the world, where we will take you next time (we will meet Mohamed and his brother who are fighting against the advance of the Sahara, they are building a natural shield to protect their village.)
The mountains are the water reservoir of Morocco. A kind of giant bottle for 35,000,000 inhabitants. Unfortunately, snow is more and more rare. In summer, in Marrakech, temperatures regularly exceed 50°C. We do not complain, in the Sahara the temperatures are much worse.
Then just before arriving at the pass, Saïda will be waiting for you with her smile.
“Hello. My name is Saïda. Welcome to our family home.
I will be your guide for the day. I will tell you about my life, my traditions and our mountains. I like the life we have here. It is pure and authentic.
I will introduce my parents and my sister … Come, come; it’s over there.
My sister Hanane and my mom prepare a traditional tajine with garden products. It’s organic. It’s my dad the gardener. He spends time in the garden. The garden is its expression, its philosophy of life.
He will serve you oil with tafernout bread. The olives come from our olive trees. You can see them up there. We press the olives in the press. We will visit it. For that we will cross this river, go up on the plateau and go to the village. I am sure you have never seen such a village. It’s my village, I’m proud of it.
In the meantime, my mom has prepared a small snack to welcome you. In Morocco, to greet our guests, we serve tea. The tajine is for after our walk… Do you agree? Come on, we have a nice day, it’s a perfect day to walk around and chat…”
Toubkal; 4 167 meters of altitude, the head in the stars… Noureddine.
Noureddine is a mountaineer. He lives in the mountains, somewhere between the AIT OUCHEG and the IMLIL valleys. Where the villages are made of mud, stones and wood. The kind of village you can only see there. You will meet children, women and men who live differently; all lit up by the stars (these stars, which men have always followed).
This man is a lover of open spaces, nature and life.
To listen to Noureddine tell us about the mountains is like listening to a botanist tell us about tree life.
The must: finish a walk at nightfall, when it is cool. Enter a traditional house (100% ecological), heated by the fireplace, lit by candles and eat a bissara soup… in a wooden bowl, with a wooden spoon… It is at this very specific moment, that we feel elsewhere, that we feel different. A little olive oil, spices (turmeric), a piece of bread… What else?
These houses we might think they are only huts; but here they are invaluable. They are part of the heritage of Morocco, the equivalent of Beaux de Provence for French people.
Man has been a “walker” since the beginning of time. We crossed forests, plains, deserts and mountains to reach the horizon and quench our thirst for discovery.
Today in the big cities, we spend our time running, but where to go? Take a break and enjoy the time at AIT OUCHEG. And breathe some fresh air 😉
“Salam alekoum. I am Noureddine.
I am a child of the mountains, especially the High Atlas Mountains. I have been living here since I was born, and I will stay here until the end. I grew up listening, watching and dreaming about mountains. They taught me everything: humility and the place of men on Earth, respect for nature, or the philosophy of the Amazigh people. The Amazigh are nomads, free men.
Just like human beings, mountains are growing up… It’s the tectonic plates that make them rise to the sky. In Tombouktou, 5 years ago, some have heard them rise!
A long, long time ago, when the mountains were not there; the Atlantic Ocean joined the Sahara. Then, the mountains were born. This created large expanses of water, blocked between mountains and this desert where the sun heats a lot. Over time, the water evaporated.
If you go to the Sahara one day; go to Lake Iriki. You will find fossils of prehistoric fish. I go there from time to time; I could take you there.
But for now, we are in the AIT OUCHEG valley. In front of ‘my’ Everest (the Toubkal mont). So many times I went there. The place does not change. The only thing that changes is the way to go up there.
Let’s take this path used by shepherds. It leads to the mountain peak. The view is… How to describe it? It will be up to you to tell me when we return.
Are you ready?”
Saida and Noureddine are completely devoted to their mountain, in the High Atlas.
If you too, want to visit them, the whole team of Dunes & Desert is at your disposal to accompany you, inform you or organize a day to meet them.
See you soon in Berber Land.