May 3rd – Cross Middle Atlas Mountains, Drive to Erfoud
Today is a full day on the bus as we drive into and over the Middle Atlas Mountains.
Our morning stop to use the facilities and stretch our legs is in Ifrane, a Moroccan ski resort. The last lions of Morocco were found in this area but are now all gone except for a few in zoos. The town has adopted the lion as their symbol.
“The Lion of Atlas, called als Berber Lion was the largest and the most ferocious of all subspecies of lion, males weigh more than 300 kg and females more than 200 kg. It is the second largest feline that exist, surpassed only by the Siberian tiger. Main characteristic of males was the black mane, which covers much of their body.
The last Berber Lion in freedom was killed in 1922 in Morocco, in the Atlas Mountains. In many Zoos around the world there are scattered descendants of the Atlas Lion.” ~ Moroccos.com
As we climb higher we are treated to beautiful panoramic views of the valley below. The roads are very good here in Morocco, as is much of the infrastructure.
Our scenery has included numerous olive groves, cedar trees. The almond trees are in bloom. They also grow figs, cherries, and apples in this area, as well as dates.
Then a delightful stop to take pictures of the Barbary Macaque monkeys. We had our first experience with this type of monkey when we visited Gibraltar in 2007, but found out that they had originated here.
Midmorning, we cross the 6,000-foot pass and continue west toward the great Sahara.
Numerous herds of sheep can be spotted grazing on the scrub. Some herds have a few goats or the occasional cow mixed in.
Next, we stop for lunch in the village of Midelt. Here we see another style of architecture with a variety of brick and adobe construction.
Then as we approach Erfoud, we enjoy views of the remarkable Ziz Gorges and vast valleys. Date palms are in abundance in the valley oasis, in fact over 1 million trees have been planted and they expect to plant 600,000 more. The king of the dates is the medjool which is our favorite as well. Some years ago a tree disease almost wiped out the medjools in Morocco and a few trees were shipped to California where they thrived and have since helped lead to the repopulation of their crops.
And here are just some more miscellaneous shots taken throughout the day of our views from the bus. You can click on any picture for a full size slide show.
Early evening we arrive in Erfoud where our accommodations are in a Kasbah.
And around the property:
Overnight: Kasbah Xaluca Maadid, Erfoud
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that the medjool date was saved. We often make a date shake as a nutritious and healthy snack at home using this variety. If you want to try making one, here is what I do. Put six to eight dates (remove seed) in a blender. Add a dozen ice cubes, one small very ripe banana, a teaspoon of peanut butter, a couple drops of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon. Blend until the consistency you prefer and enjoy.