Morocco is country of of diversity and intense colours, the Atlas Mountains are a natural barrier that creates three climatic regions (desert, mountain and mediterranean) inhabited by different ethnic groups.
At Marrakech market place we understand than in Morocco prices are never standard and they expect you to negotiate. Sellers are very flexible when it comes to negotiate , if you don't play their game you can end up paying twice the real price of the item . This is the way it works so either you are happy with the inflated entry price or you get into the game. Negotiation is a rooted business tradition in North Africa.
From Ouarzazate , at the southern side of the Atlas Mountains, we take an old bus to Todgha Gorge. Once in town we decide to avoid anyone offering accommodation and just chill out and have some local food. It is low season, so easier to find accommodation for a good price, besides after 10 days in Morocco we had mastered our negotiation skills.
The hostel was settled at the top of the valley with amazing views to the Oasis. Mountains are devoid of vegetation at this side of the Atlas, but if you go down to the Oasis if feels like being in a jungle. Oases are like an explosion of pure and green nature over a red and rocky landscape .
After dinner we heard a guy could take us to the top of the mountain to visit a nomadic family. The day after we walked for 4 hours without knowing what was up on the mountain. I thought it might be just a simple shepherds village...., but when we got to the top there were no houses nor tents but caves. The nomadic families live in caves they dig using basic mining tools. It was like traveling back in time ...I could not believe people could still live in caves in 2014.
These nomadic people belong to one of the many Bereber tribes, the natives who were settled in different regions of North Africa far before the Arab invasion in the 7th century. They keep moving depending on the weather conditions and spend more time where they can feed the flock of goats.
Inside the cave, an old lady moves a bag filled with goat milk hanging on two sticks. She makes a kind of yogurt. After having tasted it, I was told that the bag was actually made of the stomach of a goat.
I had the feeling that the family wasn't comfortable with our presence so we decide to leave and start descending by the other side of the valley.
On our way we meet the nomadic women and donkeys loaded with containers of water. Our guide explains that it takes them the whole day to bring water from the Oasis to the top of the mountain.
Our day trip finishes at the bottom of the valley in the massive and majestic gorges once generated by torrential waters coming from the mountains. It feels so small when you are in the mouth of such massive formation.