Our last adventure in Morocco was a packed one. We headed out towards the Atlas Mountains for the day, about a 90 minute drive away from the city of Marrakech. We planned to stop at a Berber pottery shop, visit a Berber village up in the hills and then continue up towards the Atlas Mountains to hike towards some waterfalls. We got up early, ate our breakfast outside in the gardens of our bungalow, and met Hassan our friendly driver and guide throughout our trip. 45 minutes later, we pulled over to the side of the road to an unassuming concrete building…but inside was a floor to ceiling rainbow of beautiful Berber pottery.
Every plate, every pot, every vase- everything– wouldn’t be out of place in Anthropologie, but without the extortionate pricing. I whittled my choices down from an an army of plates, bowls, and a vase to two egg cups and two mini bowls. Small suitcase problems. The charming shop owner kept draping me in jewellery, but he mistook my giggles as a sign to keep adding yet more bracelets and rings to my hands.
We then went round the back to where all the pottery was handmade on site, from moulding the clay to firing it up in the huge kiln outside.
Next to the kiln was an enormous pile of broken pots, leftover rejects from the kiln. The shattered pieces were going to become mosaic pieces, so nothing is wasted.
With my bowls carefully wrapped up, our next stop was 20 minutes away up and down rocky hills and herds of sheep
Even in our sturdy 4×4, I just wanted to jump out and walk on the narrower, bumpier stretches of road.
Eventually we reached the Berber village, following Hassan through the alley ways and paths to reach a Museum
Chickens clucked around my feet and at one point, a loud MOOooOOO came from behind a gate- just the local cow saying hello.
The Museum is one way for the village to make some income, and inside the Riad like building, we learnt a little about the Berber culture and the traditions and customs behind those famous rugs, and the village itself.
If you see red or a diamond shape on a rug, you know that it’s for a woman. Anything yellow is for a man. You can follow the story of a rug from the shapes and colours adorning, whether it is for a wedding or to celebrate a new child. And now, I can’t look at any rug patterns from West Elm without thinking “Man!” “Woman!”
As we left the village, we passed a woman baking bread on a hot plate outside. She gave us one of her round, pitta like loaves, sent us on our way, and that was our breakfast for the day!
Our final stop was to see the waterfalls in the mountains…
As we drove deeper into the mountains, the roads curled around more, and the river became choppier and wider.
Makeshift bridges connected both sides of the river, where restaurants and cafes had set up shop. We stopped for a brief lunch before our guide Hassan found another guide to take us up the mountain. That’s when I realised I was in for a bit of a shock…
Naively, I thought we’d be driving to a point where we could jump out and see a waterfall from a viewpoint. I had no idea our day would involve a steep and slippery hike otherwise I’d have worn something a bit sturdier than my Saltwaters and a dress!
It was also the summer holidays in Morocco, so the trail was very busy. There was nothing else to do but shrug it off and get going!
The bridge planks were wobbly and little did I know, the easiest part of the trek…
The first part of the climb was steep– even on the incline several cafes and stalls were set up.
…but we didn’t stop for long, determined to reach the first waterfall which was ‘only’ a 30 minute trek away!
The trail was super busy and I couldn’t have navigated the way up without the help of our guide. The wet rocks were slippery and he knew which path was the best and easiest way up.
There are seven waterfalls in total, but we only made it to the first one before deciding to call it a day. That’s my number one tip! Wear sturdy boots, bring plenty of water and avoid the weekend crowd and hopefully you’ll make it past the first waterfall.
The way down was just as precarious as the way up, as my jelly legs tried not to slip. Dotted on rocks as we descended, I noticed that the natural Spring water flowing over the rocks were being used to cool bottles of water and fruit. Nature’s own refrigerator!
It was a relief to get back to the main roadside, where I was happy to people watch.
Thoroughly worn out, the drive back was quiet as Robin snoozed and I stared out the window wanting to take every sight in before our journey home the next day. Up here, the valleys are lush and green but as we got nearer to Marrakech, the landscape started to change to the dusty terracotta I had gotten to know over the week.
Our last adventure in Morocco was a packed one! All that was left was to have one last snooze in the sun by the pool.