Certainly, Morocco has much more to offer than the small hideaway alleys and crowed markets of Marrakech, even though so breathtaking adventurous and colorful. The white snow covered mountaintops of the High Atlas caught my attendance already when the airplane approached Casablanca runway. Watching from the plane’s window, I was losing some of my thoughts in those empty landscapes and winding rocky roads. At least I imagined it that way…
After some days of diving through Marrakech’s lively downtown we decided to explore the city’s surroundings, where we made ourselves to chose between a trip to the sea or the mountains; unlike us, we both agreed for the mountains. Usually, sea and beach would have been most easy bet, but especially at this time of the year the Atlas is magic with its spring arrived in the valleys and flowers everywhere, while the higher areas still have good snow cover. A great contrast. We booked a typical tourist arrangement right from the Riad we stayed in, where we planned our pick up early the next morning. It started nice and uncomplicated. The driver, Berber himself, gave our group of approximately seven, eight people a ride to a Berber village directly at the foot of the High Atlas. The head of the house, I guess so, an older lady, made some tea for us and explained each of her moves in lovely detail. It was nice, but honestly a little arranged for tourists too, what I usually avoid. In fact, it was our first tourist group booking as we usually experience everything by our own. This time we thought it probably would be safer not trying the Atlas all alone, especially after such exhaustive (positively exhaustive) days in busy Marrakech. And the snapshot taken from the older lady looks pretty awesome too, right?
Maybe half an hour tea break – then we continued the trip. It got more and more mountainous with each of the road’s winding. Some last villages with beautiful gardens and flowery trees and we were already in Ouarica valley.
The riverbed is rocky and water comes directly from the snowmelt. A beautiful scene. However, people seem quite aware of the (us?) tourists coming – amazing couch and restaurant arrangements directly in the river are endless. Nice and colorful, yes, but it also raised the question… of how many visitors are expected in such valley? Or did some pioneers try something and entire Berber community copied and placed their old couches in the river? Trying to solve such thoughts, the car stopped suddenly for some seconds and a foreign guy grabbed the car’s door from the outside (!) and joined us. Right… it was our guard. He didn’t seem too much into safety – which is probably not the best attribute for a guard…
Fortunately, the car reached the final destination quickly and safe and we started our hike by crossing Ouarica river and some boulders. The path was steep and some climbing was necessary from time to time – considering some other tourists crossing, I felt like someone should have told us when booking the trip. Too many people jumping and pushing, while I tried to find my loneliness in the mountains,). On the other hand… true, the landscape has its fascination for others too, especially with that combination of spring flowers and snow. The hike, overall, was not too long, but considering the traffic, certainly long enough. We finally reached our destination – Ouarica waterfalls – and made some minutes break. Well deserved.
The hike down wasn’t that bad, but I was glad to make a rest at the funny river bar landscape after. The cool valley and the noise of the flowing water nearly blew away all the tourist crowded by-taste… it nearly did. A fascinating land… maybe next time trying a mountain trip by our own again, as we usually do, a bit aside of the main tourist tracks…?
Cheers with sunbeams.