This post is about The Atlas Mountains in Morocco as part of the land where the sun sets. Many stories have been told about the Atlas Mountains and you can believe most of them whether they are factual or part of the folktales. Scientifically, there had been a collision between Africa and America which led to the formation of ocean water-filled rift valley which we now call the Atlantic Ocean. This could have happened between 170 and 200 million years ago when the continents of the world were close to one another.
COVERAGE OF THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS
These are large mountain ranges found in Northwest Africa within modern-day Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Both the Mediterranean and Sahara environments have a special impact on plants, animals and people’s culture. However, within Morocco, you will find the different physical features of the Atlas Mountains. The Atlas Mountains cover 775,340 km².
DIFFERENT COMPONENTS OF THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS
Morocco can boast of four out of the six components of the Atlas Mountains. The different ranges are the Anti-Atlas ranges, High Atlas Ranges, Middle Atlas ranges, Tell Atlas Ranges, The Saharan Atlas Ranges and the Aurès mountain ranges. Only the last two types of Atlas Ranges are not found in Morocco. The highest mountain in the Atlas is Mount Toubkal and it is within Morocco. Toubkal is 4170m (13,671ft). Some people claim they can see this mountain peak from Spain, the maritime border with Morocco.
MARRAKECH AS A GET WAY CITY TO THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS
Marrakech is a popular town which provides a popular shopping spot for both locals and tourists. You may include well-crafted lamps, carpets and handbags on your shopping list and you will go back smiling all the way to your own country.
As you drive from the royal palace of Marrakech towards the Atlas Mountain, you see many cultivated crops and plantations. They show the simplicity of rural or peasantry life in contrast to the robust and fast life of urban life of Casablanca and other cities. There is magnificent scenery as you drive upwards to Berber villages.
SNOW IN SUMMER
Snow in Morocco is quite a common sight on the Atlas Mountains. There are two places on the Atlas Mountains where you can ski. One is near Ifrane and the other one near Marrakech. The months of January and February are full of snow to the extent of threatening crops such as sugar beer and sugar cane.
Minerals such as phosphate and lead can still be found in the deep layers of rocks of the Atlas Mountains as you admire them before reaching some villages and you may notice that even in summer some mountain peaks are covered with snow.
One of the villages, Andros, is 64 kilometres away from Marrakech and provides some refreshments to people going further up the mountains. It is one of the ancient villages which has been in existence since the 13th Century. It has been home to the earliest Berbers who are the natives of not only in Morocco, but also the neighbouring Arab countries. About 80 families live in this village and enjoy being helpful to tourists visiting the Atlas Mountains.
WINDING CURVES AND ALTERNATIVE FORM OF TRANSPORT
The next thing you may notice as you drive upwards towards the mountain top is that there are many curves along the road winding upwards. Donkeys and mules are used as major transportation to reach places that are far from the roads.
When you need to go further than Andros Village, it is better you hire a guide because the good road ends here and you may need the services of a donkey in certain places as you try to climb the summit. That is where you shall enjoy the breath-taking scenery.
RESORT CITY OF ESSAOUIRA
From Marrakech, you may go west towards the resort city of Essaouira. It is 3 hours away. It is a colourful port city. This is one of the favourite cities of Morocco among travellers. Every corner of the city is a fortified sand coloured border. It is also a cultural melting pot due to many races, tribes, found in it or going through it. There are many handicraft ceramics and the art galleries are in abundance together with spice market stalls. It is a typical example of a cosmopolitan city.
Middle Atlas Mountains are about a day’s drive away from Essaouira. You can experience a good nightlife by dancing the night away to the local artists who dish out danceable tunes to the delight of night revellers.
In case you find yourself feeling lost in the medina (market) just look skywards and you shall see the seagulls that will guide you to the harbour where you can enjoy eating fresh fish roasted on a brazier or grilled to your taste. You will actually enjoy the picturesque view of the harbour as you enjoy the view of fishermen at work.
From Essaouira, it is advisable that you proceed to the majestic Middle Atlas Mountains. You shall pass through the peaceful town of Midelt. This is where you can spend your time watching the nomadic shepherds with their flocks. Next, you can find yourself in the village of Bremmen where local farmers will be busy working in their fields. At night under the shining stars, you can dance to local music…
The following day you can reach the Todgha Gorge in the midst of impressive limestone river canyons located on the eastern side of the High Atlas Mountains.
EL KORBAT OUJDID
Visit also El Korbat Oujdid, a fortified village with an oasis museum. After that be ready to explore the High Atlas Mountain by using a guide or hike a donkey to make your way easier up to the Berber villages of which occupants will introduce you to their ancient culture of hospitality and craftsmanship.
THE KSAR OF AITI-BEN-HADDOU
From the villages, you may want to visit the Ksar of Aiti-Ben-Haddou. It is a traditional mudbrick city found on the edge of the Eastern High Atlas Mountain. It served as a traditional caravan route between Marrakech and the Sahara Desert. Several videos have been shot from here together with some exciting television series. This has made Morocco a Top Holiday Destination for many travellers around the world.
Even caravan traders who sprang from Sudan would stop over here to refresh themselves and their camels before reaching Marrakech. Therefore, this city prospered greatly because of the many numbers of traders stopping over to trade in gold, silver, salt and other valuable items. Therefore, the city still boasts of its natural beauty with earthen walls, guard towers and its own share of tourists visiting Morocco.
BEST TIME TO VISIT MOROCCO
Although many people say Morocco can be visited at any time of the year, the majority of the people prefer visiting Morocco in April and May and then September to November. I just hope that one of these days we may meet in one of those restaurants on top of the Atlas Mountains enjoying Moroccan Traditional dishes and dancing the night away before the gifted traditional musicians.