Trekking with nomadic Berbers in Morocco

This is a guest series called “Unforgettable Travel Moments“. We all have our special travel moments: a memorable meal, meeting someone, an embarrassing faux pas or simply being awestruck by scenery. With this new series, I hope to uncover the moments, the anecdotes and the tales which make travel special. This week’s guest post and accompanying photos are brought to you by Andrea Wren.

Trekking with nomadic Berbers in Morocco

Will those goats ever shut up? I think not, and while sleep was punctuated by the nightly cacophony of 230 noisy bleaters, spending a week trekking with a nomadic Berber family into the High Atlas mountains of Morocco was quite the experience.

I was part of an inaugural trip (with On The Go Tours) accompanying the nomads as they travelled from the lower valleys – to swap sweltering heat for cooler breezes, and find fresh grazing for their animals higher up.

“We do not go where we want to go,” said guide Lahcen on our first evening, upon meeting the family at Ait Youl in the Gorges Du Dades. “We have to go where the nomadic family take us.” We began the day around 4.30-5.30am. I could have cried (in fact one morning I did, because I got very poorly!), but we needed to start moving before the mid-day sun rose to its highest. Between 4 and 6 hours of arduous climbing and descending over many dusty, ochre kilometres took place, then we’d set up camp.

Of course, ‘camp’ was always one rocky mountain outcrop or another. Going to the toilet meant finding a large boulder to duck behind, and washing had to wait until the week was up. This was a life the Berbers were used to, but totally alien to me, ‘hair straightener girl’ that I am.

We’d drink mint tea once the tents were erected, and have lunch of salads and fried bread-snacks. The day was then slow, whiling away time around the camp and resting for the next day’s trek.

One evening, Zaid, the head of the family, slaughtered a goat for the main meal (I was eating meat for a short while then so tried it). It tasted like goat smells – I am vegetarian again now.

It took seven days to reach our destination, though we had to leave the family behind on the last day since their grandmother fell ill and needed to rest. But I’d had a privileged insight into a very different way of being for which I was grateful.

A full week of trekking under north African sun without a wash had left me with a rather noticeable ‘aroma’, though. The shower was suddenly one of the finest things in life I’d ever experienced.

About this week’s guest writer
Andrea Wren is a freelance journalist (http://www.andreawren.co.uk) and travel writer based in Greater Manchester, UK. She writes for UK national media like the Guardian and Wanderlust, but started her travel blog Travelling Wren to share her travel experiences as a woman. Andrea also writes for the website TheTravelEditor.com.

Read other “Unforgettable Travel Moments“.

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3 Responses to “Trekking with nomadic Berbers in Morocco”

  1. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures 05/08/2011 2:17 pm
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    What an incredible experience!

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