Morocco: West Atlas
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours
  Morocco flag Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco Western Atlas: Oum Er-Rbia River
Towns: Oued Ifran, M’Rirt, Khenifra, Ben Khlil, Zaouiat Cheikh, Kasbah Tadla, Beni Mellal, Oued Ayad, Tassaout, El Kelaa des Sraghna
    Farmhouse, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco Wheat, village and hills, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco White stork with chicks, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco Greenhouses, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco  
    From Azrou to Khenifa is long sections of gentle descents, interrupted by a couple of small ridge to cross. The is plenty of visual interest along the way, from a variety of farmhouse and crop, storks with chicks, cattle and green houses.  

Beehives, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco Beehives, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco Protected fruit trees, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco

    The first to frames about show beehives. Between Azrou and Beni Mellah, there are easily a hundred farms with signs saying honey for sale. Many of these are also paired with olive presses, so farms with olive trees, but now press, can bring their crop in and have the oil presses out. The far right frame shows a protective structure over some fruit trees.  
    Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco Ravine, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco Vegetation in ravine, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco Olive orchard, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco  
    The two center frames are of the road leading into a ravine and the totally different vegetation along the watercourse in the ravine. For the right frame, as the elevation drops, olive orchards reemerge in the agricultural mix.  
    Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco Wheat field, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco Hillside forest, Azrou to Khenifa road, Morocco  
    Along the route, micro-climates or micro-ecologies are interesting; elevation change, the steepness of a slope, the direction of exposure, and factors not determined, seem to influence the local vegetation. Between M'rirt and Khenifa, the view goes from flat wheat country to a steep, heavily wooded hillside in a couple hundred meters. It is all beautiful.  
    Oum Er-Rbia River, Khenifer, Morocco Khenifer, Morocco Khenifer, Morocco  
    Khenifra has piece of the Moyen Atlas mountains on all sides and straddles the Oum Er-Rbia River, "the mother of springtime". The Oum Er-Rbia River forms in the Moyen Atlas, 60km northeast of Khenifra and flows to the Atlantic Ocean 250km to the west, at Azemmour. But the river is 555km long.

Khenifra is the self-proclaimed "Capital of the Middle Atlas". It has all of the amenities of a large town.

    Roof top pagoda, Ben Khlil, Morocco Roof top pagoda, Ben Khlil, Morocco  
    Out of Khenifra, until Zaouiat Cheikh, the highway winds around and over hills of the Atlas foothills, and dropping in and out of river cuts. For reason we can't explain there is a pagoda on the roof of a building in Ben Khlil.  
    While in other areas, there were large combines for harvesting the wheat, in this area a lot of the work was being done by hand. A view of the general landscape shows much small farm size, and more diversity in the agriculture. There must be some farm equipment in the area, because there is bailed hay curing around some olive trees.  
    Barrage El-Hansali Reservoir, on the Oum Er-Rbia River, spreads like a large dendrite, into valleys, for several kilometers, along the road between Ben Khlil and Zaouiat Cheikh.  
    Khenifra-Beni Mellah road, Morocco Khenifra-Beni Mellah road, Morocco Khenifra-Beni Mellah road, Morocco Khenifra-Beni Mellah road, Morocco Combine, Khenifra-Beni Mellah road, Morocco
    After Zaouiat Cheikh the country side flatten out, the farm size expands exponentially and large farm equipment comes back into play. The scenery, colors, textures and topography are ever changing and ever beautiful.  
    Le Monument Commémoratif des 4 Colonnes, Kasbah Tadla, MoroccoLe Monument Commémoratif des 4 Colonnes, Kasbah Tadla, MoroccoThe center of Kasbah Tadla in on the Oum Er-Rbia River, a kilometer away from the Khenifra-Beni Mellah road. The Tadla, in Amazigh, mean bouquet of wheat. Above the town, near the highway, is a monument consisting, in the simplest description, of four square tapered pillars. Le Monument Commémoratif des 4 Colonnes (Commemorative Monument of 4 Columns) dates to at least 1933, no other information can be found.  
    Beni Mellal, Morocco Foot of Jbel Tassemit, Beni Mellal, MoroccoLook one way on a street in Beni Mellal and you will see the foot of Jbel Tassemit. In the other direction are the plains of Beni Amir.

Beni Mellal's weekly market could pass for a weekly market in sub-Saharan Africa. The food section is extensive, with multiple vendors selling a wide variety of fruits and vegetable, and there are plenty of grains, bean, peas, nuts and seeds. There was also the live chicken woman, and just outside, the fresh egg man. Elsewhere in the market there was almost every clothing item, tool, house ware, and spare part imaginable.

    Mellon seller, Beni Mellal, Morocco Vegetable market, Beni Mellal, Morocco Grain seller, Beni Mellal, Morocco Live chicken market, Beni Mellal, Morocco Egg seller, Beni Mellal, Morocco
    Orange trees, Beni Mellal, Morocco  
    The plains of Beni Amir are impressively productive. Everything from corn, fruit trees, vegetables, figs, grapes and oranges is grown with irrigation. the source of the water is presumable artesian wells, because there are now large reservoirs in the area. Most of the watering is done by very efficient drip irrigations.  
    Not far after Ouled Ayad and the limits of the irrigation, the landscape changes radical in a very short distance. Grain, as reflected in the grain elevators and olive trees dominates the remaining distance to Marakech.  

Ifran Marakech


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