Morocco: West Atlas
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours
  Morocco flag Western Atlas: Immouzer Kandar, Ifran, Azrou  
    Out of Fes the grade is very gradual for the first 25 kilometers, to Saiss. It is then steeper for the next 25 kilometers, when it reaches Immouzer Kandar and the plateau. The grades on the plateau are pretty gentle accents and descents for 25 kilometers to Ifran, before 15 kilometers of moderate, steeper descent to Azrou.

The street trees near Saiss are interesting, because they must fruit in late-April. Many of them had a cluster of cars parked near them and people plucking fruit off the ground from beneath them.

    Nut seller, outside Fes, MoroccoNut seller, outside Fes, MoroccoThe roadside merchants would indicate that a variety of nuts are grown in the area. In the mix for sale here were almonds, pistachio, and walnuts. Nationally, nut production doubled between 2005 and 2015. Those it is rarely listed as an attribute, Morocco is one of the largest producers of nuts in the world.  
    Roadside fossil, crystal and mineral seller, Moroccoroadside ceramics seller, Morocco

The presence of roadside fossil, crystal and mineral sellers, and roadside ceramics sellers an indication that more than just locals are expected on the road. In fact, on the weekend the road is busy with Moroccans on short local road trips.

    Stretch limos, Fes-Ifrane, MoroccoEgrets, Fes-Ifrane, MoroccotOf the novelties in the area were a couple of stretch limousines (left), and a nesting tree for cattle egrets (right).

One of the limousines looks like a stretched Bugatti roadster and the second is a stretched Hummer limousine.

    Imouzzer Kandar, Fes-Ifrane, Morocco Imouzzer Kandar, Fes-Ifrane, Morocco Imouzzer Kandar, Fes-Ifrane, Morocco Fes-Ifrane, Morocco  
    Forty-five kilometers south of Fes and twenty-five kilometers north of Ifran, along the ridge, is the village of Imouzzer Kandar (above), elevation 1355m. In some ways, it is a Moroccan version of Ifran, the neo-European resort town further down the the plateau. Fortunately, it come with a scaled down pretentiousness as well.  
  Ifran forest, Morocco Farm in the forest, Fes-Ifran, MoroccoIfran forest, MoroccoSouth of Imouzzer Kandar is the Ifran Hunting Reserve -- likely a legacy of the French. It is roughly three kilometers wide and over six kilometers long -- about a quarter of the area of Parc National d'Ifran. Most the reserve is solid forest, but there are a couple of farms cut into it at lower elevations. Farm in the forest, Fes-Ifran, Morocco
  Countryside, Ifrane, MoroccoHigh plains, Fes-Ifrane, MoroccoCountryside, Ifrane, MoroccoOn the plateau, the landscape (and road) flattens significantly, forming high plains. The soil here is coarse and rocky so it is not as suitable for agriculture.  
  Tudor-French Provincial house, Ifran, Morocco Tudor-French Provincial house, Ifran, Morocco Tudor-French Provincial house, Ifran, Morocco Tudor-French Provincial house, Ifran, Morocco Tudor-French Provincial house, Ifran, Morocco Housing, Ifran, Morocco
  Tudor-French Provincial house, Ifran, Morocco

Housing, Ifran, Morocco

Ifran (also spelled Ifrane)  is located at an elevation of 1,665 m, about a mile high. From the architecture and land use planning, it is very apparent that Ifran was mostly developed by the French. It gives the impression that you have left Morocco, but you haven't quite reached central Europe. It lacks life and depth of character.

It was both a summer and winter "rest and relaxation" and recreation destination for the colonials. Since independence, the Moroccan have used it for largely the same purposes and continued the same development paradigm. It is also the capital of Ifran Province in the region of Fès-Meknès, and home to a large private university for the children of the affluent, an elite sports training complex, and large resorts. It is hard not to see a connection with this and the fact that it possesses a cadre of nasty, rude, in-your-face students -- the Morocco expression of elite-privilege and entitlement.Park, Ifrane, Morocco

Infran's green space, in general, and Parc La Prairie in particular, is larger than is generally found in Moroccan towns.

In Tamazight, the regional Berber language, "ifran" means caves. There are some caves elsewhere in the mountains.

House, Ifran, Morocco

Restaurant row, Ifrane, Morocco

    View from Parc National d'Ifran, MoroccoView from Parc National d'Ifran, MoroccoSouth of Ifran the road continues along Parc National d'Ifran, but it also descends as it traverses the side of the mountain, providing gorgeous view of the countryside.

Just above the valley floor is the town of Azrou, elevation 1250m.

    Central square, Azrou, MoroccoAzrou, MoroccoMosque, Azrou, MoroccoThe quaint, older section of Azrou is on the slope near the base of the mountain. Much of the architecture is European, but the street culture is gentle Moroccan.  
    Azro, "rock" or "stone" in the indigenous Tamazight language, Azrou, MoroccoAzro, "rock" or "stone" in the indigenous Tamazight language, Azrou, MoroccoThis is Azro, "rock" or "stone" in the indigenous Tamazight language. It rises above the center of Azrou, and is the source of the towns name. There is fencing to deter people from climbing the rock, but the base is developed as a park and has a walking path.  
    Below Arzo, at the base of the mountain, the new town is spreading out across the valley.  

Fes West Atlas


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