Aremd, Morocco
30° 50' N 8° 26' W
Apr 14, 2008 08:35
Distance 47km

Text written in: English

Gateway to the High Atlas

Houssain and his family were very hospitable and our stay in their mountain gite was great.  Again, they are Berber people so a large Berber breakfast was on offer before we headed into the Atlas Mountains towards Sidi Chamarouch.  In Arabic, Sidi means Saint.  This Muslim saint died when he was walking and a rock fell on him.  A shrine has been built in the mountains where Muslims go to receive blessing (Baraka).  This was our destination and our picnic spot for the day.  Houssain and his brother prepared an amazing lunch and, of course, to wash it down there was mint tea.  The picnic gear was transported to this location by mule.  They are amazing animals and always look very sad.  Probably due to their hard life carrying things up the mountains for humankind. 

On the way back, we took a walk through the village of Aremd which is perched on the side of a hill.  It is a cute little Berber village with narrow pathways winding between the houses.  It was surrounded by terraced apple and walnut trees.  Oh to be in Morocco in walnut season!

In the evening we were treated to a Hammam.  A hammam is a Moroccan bath.  Most people in villages do not have their own washing facilities at home and so they go to the local bath house.  The one in Aremd is right next to the bakery so the heating is shared.  The bakery is not the usual type.  It is a place where the local people can bring the bread that they have made at home to be baked.  This is because most of the people do not have ovens.  A gas cooker is a Berber families' only cooking facility.  The hammam is basically a heated room, the floor and walls are warm.  There is heated water with which you wash yourself.  In our case, we had Houssain's sister to give us a hammam.  She gave us an exfoliating scrub and massage.  Ahhh, heaven.  The guys were not forthcoming with the happenings in their hammam, but, they were very subdued when they came in for dinner.  All they would say was "what goes on tour, stays on tour".  Lets just say, the mens massage is a lot rougher than the treatment the ladies get!

Day 2 of hiking was in the Inemane valley where we crossed the Tizi n'Tamatert Pass (2297m).  This was really scenic.  Again we were treated to an amazing picnic lunch which we did not have to carry! 

That night we stayed down in Imlil and reminisced our amazing Atlas experience.  Next time, Houssain is going to take Mike and Jude up Toubkal - north africas highest peak.  Houssain asked Mike how much Mike had to pay to marry Jude - "was it 500 camels?"  Dad - you missed out on 500 camels!!!    

Photos / videos of "Gateway to the High Atlas":

The mule loaded up with all our overnight gear.  We had a 45 minute walk from Imlill to our new home near Aremd.  We were staying at our guide Houssain's house for 2 nights. Walking up the track to Aremd. Aremd from the other side of the valley where we were staying. Ladies out with the goats and washing early in the morning. The beginning of our walk up to Sidi Chamarouch had some spectacular views of the high atlas.  These iris flowers were everywhere. Kristy, Jackie, Carly, Bruce, Jude, Keith, Mike, Houssain, Jenny, Ali, Wendy and Siobhan taking a break from our walk. Bruce, Kristy, Mike and Jude in the High Atlas heading to Sidi Chamarouch. Mike is beginning to learn the art of pouring mint tea.  The idea is to get the pot as high as possible and splash the tea into the cup in order to get the most froth!!  Gotta have head on the mint tea now! Houssain leading the team on the walk. Houssain's house where we stayed.  On our walk through Aremd we could see the house over the valley. Sustenance break on our second walk with Houssain. Mike and Jude on top of the pass on our walk.  As you can see, the mules go everywhere. In all the clay, rocky mountainous area, the people cultivate wee grassy patches for feeding their livestock.  Each family has its own paddock within this area, partitioned off with rocks. Our group on top of the second pass of the day. Jude and Mike, loving the mountains.