WildCaribbean:TreaureIslands: Beyond the postcard-perfect palms of the Caribbean Islands lies a stunning diversity of landscape, from rainforests to volcanic peaks. Sunday, 7.30pm, ABC1.
TheClippertonExpedition: How did life evolve on the most isolated atoll on Earth? A rare glimpse into a unique ecosystem. Friday, 5.30pm, SBS. Ian Cuthbertson colourful patchwork is often seen along the banks as the clothes are spread out to dry.
Mules, it must be said, are not the most co-operative of animals; watch out, as they can bite and kick. However, riding a mule instead of walking to the pass next morning is relaxing and comfortable, even with two side baskets of luggage. Trained from a young age, the mules obey their handlers’ commands. Mine is a Speedy Gonzalez character, constantly being told to stop, as it wants to be at the front, not at the back where it has to stay.
It’s so relaxing that I start making up songs about the mountains, the trail and the hiking while watching another group zigzag down on foot.
It is obvious civilisation is nearer when we find carbonated drinks and chocolate available at the top of the pass. It’s an example of the enterprise that Berbers are known for throughout Morocco.
For thousands of years the Berber people have inhabited North Africa, fighting to protect their territories. Originally worshipping a plethora of gods, often related to the natural environment, most have become Muslims since the arrival of the Arabs, although they still worship saints. Their languages are still used throughout the country while traditional Berber music has contributed to the renowned music of West Africa.
Living in a harsh environment, similar to the one we are hiking through, the Berbers have had to be enterprising. Today this can be seen in the cities where they typically own and run hanoots , the Moroccan corner store.
From our position on the backs of the mules, far down below is a patch of green, the town of Imlil, meaning lunch and just a short, flat walk to our final destination. Imlil is a peaceful town built to cater for tourists, featuring cafes, hotels, souvenir shops and lots of carpets for sale.
We have relaxed and enjoyed our ride (and walk), appreciated those stunning views, stayed in a traditional Berber house and experienced life as it has gone on for centuries in this awe-inspiring region of Morocco. All just 60km from the madding crowds of Marrakesh, but it seems so much more removed.
Intrepid Travel runs trips that include hiking in the High Atlas. More: www.intrepidtravel.com. To organise an independent hike with a guide, contact Hike Morocco. More: www.hikemorocco.com. A special place to experience the hospitality for which Berbers are renowned is Kasbah du Toubkal in Imlil, which has stunning mountain views. More: www.kasbahdutoubkal.com. Susan Kurosawa’s DepartureLounge returns at the end of February
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