Where We Be
We would never have guessed we were in Morocco
as we traveled through the Middle Atlas Mountains
Tour Day 4. Middle Atlas & Macaques
What do you think of when you think of Morocco?
Vast deserts and crowded medinas probably
come to mind first. But as we discovered, there's
a lot more to Morocco: tall mountains with snow-
capped peaks, green fields dotted with sheep,
cedar forests sheltering macaques, mountain
lakes bordered by Swiss-like towns, and more.
One of the best things about our road trip with
Sahara Tours 4x4 was getting out into the
countryside to really see Morocco for ourselves.
This is far from a one-dimensional country, and
our fourth day of driving really hammered this
home. From Merzouga to Fez we passed through
terrain that looked nothing like our preconceived
ideas of what Morocco should look like.

Certainly a highlight of our final touring day was
seeing a troop of Barbary macaques in a cedar
forest north of Midelt, near Azrou in the Middle
Atlas Mountains. Macaques are found mainly in
Morocco and Algeria, with a smaller population in
Gibraltar. We were lucky enough to find a troop
that was actively foraging when we visited, and it
happened to include several cute newborns.
The foothills of the Middle Atlas rose up before us
We passed vistas that looked almost Arizona-like
As we started climbing, the scenery gradually turned greener
On our way into the Middle Atlas Mountains we saw this large
reservoir with swirling rock patterns on the hillside behind
This is Tafilalt in the Ziz Valley, home to the largest
palm grove and one of the largest oases in the world
In the morning we left the Sahara and camel crossings behind
Our road trip took us one way from Marrakech to Fez, but with quite the detour -- via
Merzouga and the Sahara. Our fourth driving day took us all the way from Merzouga to Fez.
Idir dropped us off at Bab Boujloud, the main gate leading into the medina of Fez. We told
him we’d think of him whenever we heard Berber music, which was always playing in the car.
We saw quite a few European storks during our drive. They make their
huge nests at the top of minarets, transformer lines, and even house roofs.
Ifrane is sometimes called the Switzerland of Morocco
with its European-style homes and the feel of a garden city
What a cutie! Both males and females participate in raising the young.
Barbary macaques have only a vestigial tail. That's why they're
sometimes misidentified as apes even though they're actually monkeys.
We particularly loved seeing this suckling babe
There were several youngsters and newborns in the troop
We looked for a good long while and almost gave
up before finding this troop of Barbary macaques
This lovely cedar forest near Azrou is
home to troops of Barbary macaques
After the hot Sahara, the Middle Atlas literally felt like a breath of fresh air,
and the endless sheep grazing on green hillsides felt like a world away