Blogs from Ourika Valley, Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz, Morocco, Africa

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Ourika_Valley from 14/06/2013 to 18/06/2013... read more
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We left Marrakech around 9:30 am by taxi, with a new driver (the one we had booked had his cousin? take us instead). He turned out to be great, driving carefully and asking politely if we wished to stop at any of the dozens of tourist traps we passed. We did agree to go into an argan oil women's coop, where Lynn bought oil that is maybeargan and had a great 6 minute massage. We arrived in Setti Fadma around 11:30am and were immediately accosted for hotel/guide/restaurant help. We finally escaped and found a hotel for about $35/night. We next set off to do the famed 7 waterfalls hike. There are no signs for the trail which begins somewhere in the maze of riverfront restaurants, and we attracted the attention of a very persistant guide. I ... read more
On our way to the mountains
Argan Coop
Road to Setti Fadma


We decided to spend most of today walking to a remote Berber village about 2 hours by foot from our hotel in Setti Fadma. A village dog came along with us, uninvited... We walked a on a dirt road, along another river, and through many orchards. There were cherry, apple, and olive trees, along with nut trees and small plots of peas and onions. We saw people with one or two animals grazing, including a Berber woman in traditional clothes and jewelry. Later we passed large goat herds. We passed one village, and after another hour on the empty road, we arrived at the higher village. The dog was with us still, but disappeared when the local children leaving school spotted us, and descended in a small swarm the giggle and try their French on us...We ... read more
Bill and the dog setting off
Dog resting along the trail
first village

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Ourika Valley December 30th 2012

About two weeks before we left for America, four friends and I went to the desert. I booked a "budget best-value" tour online to be picked up in Marrakech and driven out into the town of Ouarzazate and after that to Zagora. From there we would ride camels into the sunset and sleep in tents with Berber nomads...well, not with the Berbers. So come Thursday night we got out of our class at 7:15 and rushed to catch our four or five hour train to Marrakech. We arrived at Marrakech at about 1am, why it took so long? It's Morocco. Our next mission was to find the cheap hostel I so willingly put my trust into online. It was called "Trip and Friends" and cost about 4euro a night. Petite Taxis, the kind that stay in ... read more
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Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Ourika Valley December 21st 2012

Plastic bags and bottles littered the road and tossed and bubbled in the river. Blue, green, plastic flags snagged on branches brought down by the last flow from the mountains. Icily grey water was not in fact cold, just plastic strewn. Omar, father of 3 boys who lives 20km out of Marrakech and doesn’t see his wife much, was driving us up to the Atlas Mountains through the Ourika valley. This job meant that he might have to sleep in his shared taxi as he might not be able to get home tonight. As we passed the Formula 2 racing track built on former agricultural land he told us about the new developments and new occupations created by the new King to bring in money. As pleasant as Omar is, he is of course beholden to ... read more
Anyone for lunch?
Mint tea
Preparing argan nuts

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After a great breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice, strong black coffee and these incredible small spongy pancakes with butter (I don't think I'll ever manage to find our what they were called!) we were collected from the Riad and driven off in a mini-van. Out of the 10 of us on register, 2 fell foul of food poisoning and were quicky dropped back off to their hotel, 1 managed to get lost whilst hunting for a bottle of water in the souqs before and left and her two friends then had to chase after her and they too never returned! I hope they managed to make it out of there! None the less, with a near empty mini-bus and what was turning out to be our own personal guide we headed out of the city ... read more
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De auto stond er gelukkig nog de volgende dag en na een tank-stop zijn we richting het Atlasgebergte gereden. Zoals iedere dag was het strak blauw en de besneeuwde toppen staken mooi tegen de lucht af. Aanvankelijk reden we nog door de vlakke vallei, maar na een half uur begon de weg omhoog te gaan en flink te kronkelen. Langs de kant van de weg stonden kinderen allerlei kruiden te verkopen.Nog hoger reden we door canyons en kwamen we tussen de sneeuw en op onze bestemming Oukaïmeden. Dit dorp is gelegen op een plateau, in de winter is het een skioord en ’s zomers kan je er bergtochten maken. We zijn eerst bij het bergmeer gestopt om wat foto’s te maken en daarna hebben we de toegang tot het dorp betaald. Oukaïmeden bestaat uit een aantal ... read more
Bergdorp op zeg naar Oukaimeden
Bergmeer
Op de top


‘We’re here’, proclaimed the taxi driver, pulling over to the side of the road. ‘Here, really?‘ In our reckoning we must still be about five kilometres short of Imlill, the epicentre of trekking in Morocco’s High Altas mountains. Under the shade of a walnut grove, our guide, cook/muleteer and mule are patiently waiting. After quick introductions our backpacks are strapped onto the mule, along with the food and cooking equipment for the next three days, and with the mule’s cross sectional area almost tripled, our small party sets off. We’re new to trekking, but what we had arranged to do is a three day hike from here (somewhere outside of Imlill) to a small village called Seti Fatma, two valleys away. So with excitement and a little apprehension we head off, following a small track from ... read more
Views towards Toubkal
Coming down from the pass
Village home


DAY 5 3rd March 2011 We booked the trip yesterday at a local travel agent and were to be picked up at 09.00am. The minibus duly arrived and after picking up a couple of other people we set off towards the higher atlas mountains – no guide!!!! Yesssss!!! After about half an hour we stopped at a large gift shop with a panoramic roof terrace where we could take photos of the plains (and of course do some shopping!). Another half hour we stopped in a small lay-by to take photos of a small palace - with a few camels that you could ride if you wanted to and of course the usual hustlers selling jewellery and daggers! Another twenty minutes drive and we stopped again – this time at a herbal plant shop where we ... read more
L'Ourika valley
Chris braving the Bridge!
Me on the Bridge


Thursday 3rd March: up bright and early as the tour of the Ourika Valley that we had booked the previous evening required a 9am start at the tour agent's premises near our hotel. We were picked up from there at 9.15am and taken to the tour bus which left Marrakech around 9.30am. There were about 14 people on the bus, of whom 8 were Brits. We headed east out of Marrakech and stopped after half an hour for a “comfort break” and a view of the High Atlas mountains from the roof of a cafe: the view being unfortunately impeded by a strikingly ugly power pylon. Then we headed off towards the foothills and stopped at a viewpoint where we were accosted (almost assaulted) by a couple of hustlers in traditional garb (a hooded kaftan) selling ... read more
The Hustler
Lunch with a view
Main Street Sitti Fatima




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