Who knows whether they are the place where a Titan held up the sky, or if they are in fact said Titan himself, petrified by plucky Perseus with the help of a Gorgon’s head? The High Atlas Mountains seem at least mythical in stature, towering above Morocco to a dizzying height of 4167 metres at the summit of Jbel Toubkal, North Africa’s tallest peak.
The Atlas Mountains appear as though they could have remain unchanged since gods and men fought, haggled and tricked each other on their sparse slopes; traffic comes with feet attached and ramshackle mud and stone Berber villages seem from another age, save for one incongruous addition.
To explore their dusty paths is to enjoy a hike back in time.
The High Atlas Mountains
Simply a mythical landscape and home of the Berbers whose women are famed for the beauty. On a hot and sunny September day it is difficult to imagine that in winter these arid slopes are swathed in white and the only way in and out is on skis.
Villages by the Stream
If I was a Berber I’d prefer to live in one of these little villages that hug the deep clefts in the valley – you’ve got trickling streams a few feet away and the greenery makes them seem less harsh than the ones on the dry slopes.
Portable Tea Pot
Our mule’s baskets made a good windbreak for brewing a pot of sweet mint tea. I suspected if you rubbed this pot, a genie might have come swirling out of the spout.
Mud Coloured Berber Villages
Muddy and ruddy Berber villages blend perfectly with the Atlas Mountains scenery. From a distance they might be invisible if it weren’t for the vibrant, woven rugs airing on many rooftops and balconies.
There’s not much chance of suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning when walking along routes linking villages; even at busiest times you’re only likely to bump into the occasional mule, an odd goat or two and a few cows.
Mud Coloured Berber Villages Part II
Ramshackle is the word that springs to mind when you see village scenes like this one. These higgledy piggledy homes look as though they’re built on top of each other and a decent huff and puff could bring them tumbling down.
21st Century Perks
The scene could be almost biblical except for one thing; the circular white dish on many roofs. These primitive homes are the last place you’d expect to find satellite TV.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites plus lots of other things. Follow him on Google+