Living the High (Atlas) Life.
Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
141Trip End Jan 13, 2009
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The Berber people of the region have perhaps taken on a personality to match the harsh environment. Or perhaps they were that way before they came here centuries ago. Regardless, they have a reputation for fierce independence, self-sufficiency, and tough businesspeople
This element did not create any kind of negative impact on our stay here, which was most excellent. With Jen's bargaining and procurement skills, how could it not be. After declining the Kasbah's offer for one hundred and thirty dollar dorm rooms, and passing on some cheap but uninspired guest houses, she happened upon the Dar Imlil. Not only did she find the best joint in town, she drove their tariff down to less than half the usual rate. It was a slight splurge for us, but it's all about the value baby! This was Real quality. Big old comfy bed, beautiful bathroom, and best of all, a big lodge like living room with a fireplace. Best of all, we were the only ones staying here which gave us a defacto private staff of five to feed us, bring us tea, stoke the fire - we felt like royalty.
The Dar Imlil was undoubtedly the star of our stay here. Another highlight was our big hike. We had originally planned to do a proper multi-day trek but for reasons of planning and time we just couldn't get it together
We had a good time here. It was unbelievably beautiful. With huge snow clad peaks, we spent hours sitting around surveying. We were happily informed that the Kasbah Hotel, which had the most luxurious accommodations (and view) in town, was a sister hotel to Dar Imlil and that we were welcome to go there, explore the place and enjoy hammam/steambath. Bliss!
Imlil proved to be a beautiful mountain town filled with lovely, if not enterprising, people. It would have been fun to trek from town to town through these amazing mountains for a whole week. We only got a few days in here but had a full experience nonetheless. Plus the coast and warmth was calling us southward through the chilly near zero temperatures.
So off we went. Or once again, off we wanted to go :-) Same story. No shared taxis again. Seems that locals and tourists rarely want to go to the same places. During high season this might not be much of a problem but once again we found ourselves without a ride and nothing but outrageously high private charter offers. This time a staggering nine hundred duhrams which was more than both nights of our splurge lodging
Much to our surprise the taxi driver must have taken a liking to us as once we dropped off the other passengers he agreed to our offer of four hundred duhrams. This allowed us to actually experience the wonderful drive which is famous and justifiably so. It meanders through desolate but beautiful high desert hillsides with glimpses of stunning mountains in the distance. Along the way are various villages, some of which are famous for alluring French trekkers and foodies (the food is reportedly amazing along this stretch). Moving into higher elevations we stopped briefly to view the famous ruins of the Tin Mal mosque where the long time rulers of the country (the Almohad's) hid and then swept down through the plains in their purifying conquest that installed them as rulers of all of Morroco for a few centuries at least. Ever windier roads took us up and up to the famous pass where we were ringed by more snow clad peaks. Starting downwards on the southern side, the views went on forever over the plains and towards the coast.
With the Atlas Mountains behind us, we were ready for our sweep down through the plains...