Morocco: Moyen Atlas Mountains
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours
 
       
  Morocco flag Crossing Moyen Atlas to Boulemane  
       
    Topography from Er Rich to Sefrou. This most dramatic section is crossing the Moyen (Middle) Atlas. Even there the maximum slope riches less than 4%.  
    Topography from  Er Rich to Sefrou
[Depending upon the quality of the underlying data graphs maybe only general representations of the topography.]
 
    Sheep grazing in the Haute Atlas, Er Rich, MoroccoSheep, Col Tizi N'Talghaumt, Er Rich, MoroccoHigher in this region of the Haute Atlas, where moisture is more seasonal, agriculture is replaced by grazing -- mostly sheep.

The highway crosses the Haute Atlas at Col Tizi N'Talghaumt (pass) (elev. 1907m, ~5870 ft). A water hole has been built for livestock. The only trees in the area are planted. The hilltop seems to be above the treeline.

 
    Col Tizi N'Talghaumt, Er Rich, MoroccoIt is worth documenting!  With views at every corner, the road gradually gives up its elevation as it traverses hillsides and winds down valleys for miles.

At every pull-out, there were bottles of honey set out (lower right), presumably for sale. Sellers were never visible. Unless there is a standard price per bottle that is common knowledge, it is difficult to figure out how a sale was made.

 
    Col Tizi N'Talghaumt, Er Rich, Morocco Col Tizi N'Talghaumt, Er Rich, Morocco Col Tizi N'Talghaumt, Er Rich, Morocco Honey for sale, Col Tizi N'Talghaumt, Er Rich, Morocco  
    Snow dusted Atlas Mtn, Morocco, Apr 2015Snow dusted Atlas Mtn, Morocco, Apr 2015Snow dusted Atlas Mtn, Morocco, Apr 2015The next treat was snow-dusted peaks in the Atlas Range. When the weather is delightfully warm and dry, it is hard to image a full blown winter.
 
 
    Midelt, Morocco Midelt, Morocco Midelt, Morocco Midelt, Morocco Midelt, Morocco
  Apple sculpture, Midelt, Morocco Where most of the towns on the east side of the Atlas are built largely on flat lands, Midelt is built on a hill. The photos above cover about 270o of views from the top of a building at the center of town.

It is also a new city so it lacks the defined neighborhoods and souks of traditional Moroccan towns. What is gained is wide boulevards with water features in the traffic circle.

Fountain and boulevard, Midelt, Morocco
    Orange stall, Midelt, Morocco

From the prominent apple sculpture in a traffic circle, it is logical to conclude that Midelt known for its apples. It was probably the time of year, but in the market there were more orange in the market than apples.  Other produce of the district includes; walnuts, apricots, plums, pomegranates, wheat, corn, and a wide variety of garden vegetables.

Midelt, Morocco
    Bread delivery, Midelt, MoroccoBread delivery, Midelt, MoroccoAgain, timing is everything, but we happened on the bread delivery hour. One vendor was delivery low, round loaves, and another delivery van was filled with long, skinny, French baguettes.  
  Couscous, Midelt, Morocco Couscous, Midelt, MoroccoOn the subject of food, we had a very memorable couscous dinner at a small restaurant in Midelt. The elements were served separately so each diner could assemble their own plate. The ingredients were served as a bowl of cooked couscous grain, a platter of assorted vegetable and a platter of meat. Each component was superbly prepared. Meat for Couscous, Midelt, Morocco
  Monastere Notre Dame de l'Atlas, Midelt, Morocco

A short walk from Midelt, past Kasba Outhmane Ou Moussa, is Kasbah Myriem, the home of Monastere Notre Dame de l'Atlas. The monastery is built around the two surviving members of 1996 Tibhirine assassination*. The Tibhirine Priory was inaugurated in 1938, near Médéa, Algeria. After the terrorist attack, the surviving monks moved to a monastery annex in Fez.  In 2000, they moved to a complex outside Midelt, that they now share with the Franciscan Missionary Sisters. The monks and nuns cultivate the modest agricultural land of the monastery, support the small village school, offer welcomes to guests and pilgrims, and run a weaving and embroidery workshop/training program.

* On the night of 26–27 March 1996, seven monks from the Atlas Abbey of Tibhirine, near Médéa, in Algeria, belonging to the Roman Catholic Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (known as Trappists) were kidnapped during the Algerian Civil War. They were held for two months, and were found dead in late May 1996.

Monastere Notre Dame de l'Atlas, Midelt, Morocco
    Weaving workshop, Monastere Notre Dame de l'Atlas, Midelt, MoroccoWeaving workshop showroom, Monastere Notre Dame de l'Atlas, Midelt, MoroccoAt some point of another most visitors to the neighbor visit the weaving workshop and showroom (left). The workshop trains about thirty young local girls and is led by a religious sister. Weaving workshop, Monastere Notre Dame de l'Atlas, Midelt, Morocco
       
  Snow capped high Atlas mountains, Morocco Berber shepherd tent, Midelt, MoroccoBetween the Haute Atlas range and the Moyen Atlas range is a long, broad, flat valley. It must be the inspiration for many a Moroccan "country ballad" with its dramatic, sometimes snow-capped mountains, nomadic, tent-dwelling shepherds and frontier, Berber autonomy campaigners leaving their marks and defining the culture. Berber indepence symbol, Morocco
  Long piles of mine tailings, Zaida, Morocco From the early 20th century minerals were exploited around Zaida. The most abundant of these was lead. The major mines have closed but the piles of mine tailing remain. It is not the place you want to be in a dust storm: The tailings have been tested and were found to contain lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr) and nickel (Ni).  On the bright side, there is no arsenic.

In Zaida, there is a "Pizza Hut" (right). The signs are there, but the don't sell any pizza. It is a visual disconnect. It might have sold pizzas in the past, or maybe it is preparing to sell pizzas in the future, but right now it sells tajine.
 

Pizza Hut, Zaida, Morocco
    Barriere de Neige (Snow barrier) sign, MoroccoBarriere de Neige (Snow barrier) sign, MoroccoNext, on the list of interesting signs -- timing is everything -- is the "Barriere de Neige" (Snow barrier). Besides being no snow in the vicinity, presently, over the next 40 km the road climbs only 200 meters -- it is very flat. After that, the road climbs 220m in 15 km to a pass that is likely closed by heavy winter snow.

Here are some views of the 40 km of flat, from Boulaajoul to near Enjil.

 
  Moroccan bicyclist, Zaida, Meknes-Tafilalet, Morocco Road from Boulaajoul to Enjil, Zaida, Meknes-Tafilalet, Morocco Orchard covered with nets, Zaida, Meknes-Tafilalet, Morocco Long haired donkey, Zaida, Meknes-Tafilalet, Morocco Road from Boulaajoul to Enjil, Zaida, Meknes-Tafilalet, Morocco Plains, Zaida, Meknes-Tafilalet, Morocco
    Roadside, Ait Karmosse, Fès-Boulemane Region, MoroccoPurple plant, Ait Karmosse, Fès-Boulemane Region, MoroccoWhile riding across terrain with little topography can be easy, very relaxing and impressive with space, hills may be harder but they offer details that tend to be more stimulating and vibrant.  
  Mountain Pass, Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region Mountain Pass, Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region Mountain Pass, Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region Mountain Pass, Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region Mountain Pass, Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region
    Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region, MoroccoChurch converted to mosque, Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region, MoroccoJust on to the western slope is the mountain village of  Boulemane. The stone masonry buildings and red tile roofs speak to the French presence in the history of the small town. The areas history is also reflected in the former church, which has been transformed into a mosque (right).

The town's beautiful location, quaint character, and hammam (Turkish bath) should be a draw for visitors, but there is no hotel in Boulemane (the closest hotel is more than 70km, 45 miles, away) so most sightseers will have to make it there as a day trip.

 
  Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco
    The route out of the Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, is very picturesque:  
  Forest,  Boulemane, Fès-Boulemane Region Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco
    Jagged rocks, forests, high plains, prosperous looking farms, winding mountain roads, large valleys,  
  Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco
  Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, MoroccoWildflowers, Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Moroccoand variations on these themes.
 
Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco
  Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Sheep herd, Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, MoroccoThe corridor is relatively sparsely populated. The land status fluctuates from forest to rangeland with wildflowers, to agriculture. The agriculture varies from sheep and cattle herding, to fruit orchards, grains, and field crops, to greenhouse horticulture.

The crop that was being harvested at the time was potatoes, which were being stored, at least temporarily, in rows, under long orange tarps.

Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco
  Fruit orchard, Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Agriculture, Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Plowing field, Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Horticulture, Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Harvesting potatoes, Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco Potato storage, Middle Atlas, through the Fès-Boulemane Region, Morocco
       
   

Ziz River Valley Sefrou

 
     
       
 

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