village in the high atlas mountains

Travel Photo Challenge Day 5 – Morocco

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I’ve been nominated by some fellow bloggers, Tony and Margie with Back Roads and Other Stories as well as Jyothi with Travel Explore Enjoy, to post one favorite travel picture a day for ten days without explanation, then to nominate someone else to participate.  That’s 10 days, 10 travel pictures, and 10 nominations.  It is my understanding that the idea behind the challenge is to expose audiences to new bloggers and vice versa.  I’m always up for helping fellow bloggers, so I have accepted the challenge. 

That said, my rule following self is going to follow Tony and Margie’s lead and break a handful of them.  First, while a picture paints a 1,000 words, I’m incapable of posting a photo without some explanation.  Sometimes the story makes the image that much more special.  Second, though not specified, I think the intent is to post 10 days in a row.  I’ll be lucky if I post 10 weeks in a row. Additionally, sometimes I might add more than one photo!

I’m not sure I knew what to expect when a friend invited me on a trip to Morocco.  We went for about ten days and visited the High Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh, Rabat, Casablanca, El Jadida, and Essaouira.  While I expected to love Casablanca, it was my least favorite place we visited! 

In the meantime, places like Essaouira, of which I’ve never heard, were a pleasant surprise.  It’s fishing port is a photographer’s dream, and it’s medina is much calmer than those of big cities.  Apparently, it is also known for the Gnaoua Music Festival which takes place in June. 

boats in essaouira

Marrakesh Medina

While the Essaouira medina allowed us to browse without being bombarded by vendors, the Marrakesh medina is something spectacular to see.  The medina was an absolute maze, designed to confuse enemies when under attack.  Now it just confuses tourists who venture beyond the main tourist square.

I highly recommend hiring a guide to lead you through the back alleys, in order to see the inner workings of the city.  I loved seeing the blacksmiths, leather workers, and even a gentleman who threw sawdust on a fire to keep the water warm in the hammam.  Despite the disarray in the workshops, the stores presented their wares in meticulous uniformity as the hand of fatima hung over the doors for protection.

I honestly thought my friend was ridiculous for hiring a guide until we arrived, and I saw the crazy place for myself.  I’ve been to many markets, but this one I would not have found my way without help. 

High Atlas Mountains

Anyone who knows me, knows shopping isn’t my thing, so while the medina was super cool, my favorite part of our visit to Morroco was our three-day trek through the High Atlas Mountains.  I found a guided trip on Viator which sounded great.  It included hiking, meals, and accommodations.

I failed to inquire about the accommodations.  They were super rustic.  The first night we had beds, but no heat.  It was so cold when we went to bed we covered up with two heavy blankets.  They must have weighed 10 pounds a piece.  By the middle of the night, we were sweltering!

The second night, we slept closer to floor on a mattress as hard as bricks so we added a sleeping pad on top.  Once again, we piled on two thick blankets that have likely never been washed.  We didn’t learn our lesson.  We awoke dripping sweat again, but it was so cold at bedtime, we didn’t even take cold showers after hiking all day.

Despite the cold “camping”, I loved the hiking.  We summited Tizi Mzik and Tizi Oudite as we trekked through the High Atlas range.  My favorite part was coming upon the Berber Villages.  I’ve never been to Nepal, but the stone and clay buildings built on the cliffside below snow capped mountains made me think of Nepal.

village in the high atlas mountains

I loved seeing the women working the terraced fields, the goats and their shepherds, and the kids playing barefoot soccer on the dirt sometimes with a milk jug replacing a ball.  It was amazing to watch the Berbers climb up and down the steep rocky paths in slippers while carrying groceries to their homes with colorful doors. 

Their 300 square foot homes are two stories.  The bottom story is for their animals such as a cow, a couple goats, and a few chickens, while the upstairs is for their family of six.  While it may be a simple way of life, kids are independent at a young age, walking miles to and from school without supervision.  Sometimes, I think our society needs to take a page out of their book.  Regardless, my visit to the High Atlas mountains and the Berber Villages were my favorite part of Morocco. 

While Morocco reminds me of Monkey’s Tales journeys, they have already been nominated, so next up on the nomination list is Have Bag, Will Travel. Coincidentally, they just posted on Morocco, so you can compare stories. Additionally, I enjoy their “On This Day” Series which flashes back to some of their previous journeys. Check them out! ETB

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Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop.  Each card has a travel story associated with it.  20% of proceeds are donated to charity.

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

7 thoughts on “Travel Photo Challenge Day 5 – Morocco

  1. This really makes me want to go to the High Atlas mountains! i love the main picture of the village on the side of the moutain. Thanks for the referal, but as you said we’ve already participated. Maggie

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