Aremd Things to Do
Yes, a reeeeally very large lump of mountain rock painted white :-) This enormous object celebrates the location of an Islamic shrine. It is surrounded by a small village which is very geared up towards tourists.
Sidi Chamharouch is roughly 2 hours walk south of Aremd, on the main route to Mount Toubkal.
The shrine is tucked away at the back of the village.
There are several large souvenir shops and a small busy cafe selling sweets and drinks. The shopkeepers were extremely friendly, spoke excellent English and eager for us to spend time in their shop (quelle surprise) drinking the de menthe.
On returning to Marrakesh we found it much harder to find traditional Berber silver jewellery and crafts, so this spot may be an ideal opportunity to buy a souvenir or two of your stay in the mountains.
I bought a woolly Moroccan hat here for 75dh, in preparation for the cold temperatures ahead. I am pretty sure this was not a bargain basement price, but I was happy to pay it, for the sake of my head and the friendly shopkeeper's income :-)
This is a small rural community and some of the villagers took exception to the shorts and bare shoulders of the women in our group. In order to enter the village to use the public toilet, they were asked to pay a 'fine'. Well, I think it was a fair price just to use the loo ;-)Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Hiking and Walking
The hilltop village of Aremd is larger than it looks from the main road along the opposite side of the valley. It felt remarkably unspoilt - this is not a place that has changed itself noticeably to cater for the tourists. No large shops, no cars in the main village, just the occasional human, groups of small children, donkey or handful of chickens.
Actually it is busier very early in the morning, when the kids go to school, or prayers, and people head off to work. The gardens seemed to be tended by the women, sometimes singing as they worked.
I found a little sweet shop around the corner from the Gite d'Etape (schoolkids are the same the world over!!). Further away from the village, back towards Imlil on the village side of the valley was a larger shop for basic provisions.
Back down at the main road there is a large cafe with terraces, perched above the river.
It was just such a wonderful village to walk around, rough, steep paths winding between the brown houses.
And a couple of gites for the passing trekkers.
At 6,400 feet above sea level, the temperature could be quite fresh. But nestled in the High Atlas mountains, the views of the landscape are stunning.Related to:
- Mountain Climbing
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
The most beautiful part of the day in the Atlas Mountains, in my view, is at sunrise. The temperature is cool, the colours are rich. The photo opportunities are many as the sun rises and, one by one, illuminates the tops of the mountains.
Very quickly the sun gets too strong and bright. Soon the rich colours are washed out.
In Summer and Autumn, of course, the hot sun will have made most things look dry and dusty. In the Winter months (November- February) I was told that the mountain peaks are covered with snow. And in Spring (March/April) the foliage is bright with new leafs and blossoms.Related to:
- Mountain Climbing
Almost everything in the area beyond Imlil travels by mule or donkey. Food, equipment, footsore tourists. Each animal is able to carry over 100kg of freight, over all sorts of terrain.
Imlil is the centre for hiring donkeys. Many families seem to own a donkey or mule to earn money, hired out to whoever needs it. And of course many local men work as 'muleteers' (I never heard of a 'donkey-eteer'!!), experts at packing as much as possible onto their animal. I couldn't say how much it would cost to hire an animal because our guide had already arranged a fleet of donkeys on our arrival.
On the small mountain paths donkeys have right-of-way. Scramble up the slope away from the path if a mule or donkey approaches!! After spending days carrying some tourist's pots, pans, bags and tent up a mountain I imagine they retain no sense of humour :-)Related to:
- Horse Riding
- Travel with Pets
- Budget Travel
Aremd Local Customs
The population of Morocco is primarily made up of Arabs and Berbers. Berbers comprise about 40% of the total. They mainly live in the mountainous and Sahara Desert areas of Morocco. They have their own spoken language, with several dialects. Therefore Arabic would be a second language, and French (or English) a possible third.
In the valley of Imlil, the Berber tribe is called Ait Mizane.
Berbers can be very noticeable. Some of them (particularly from the desert) look European, with pale skin and blue eyes. Clearly where the author Frank Herbert got some of his ideas for his book, Dune.
The bright blue clothes and head scarfs are typical Berber gear. The turban-like headscarf is great for the desert and also chilly mountain tops.
Our guide in the mountains, Yussef, was a Berber from the Sahara desert. He was very interesting, clever, well-educated and had the striking Berber looks.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Arts and Culture
Aremd Warnings and Dangers
Oooh, sometimes kids can be very cute, other times they can get irritating :-)
There were always a handful of children here and there, always demanding for "un stylo". At least they seem to understand that demanding cash is too direct and that sweets are bad for the teeth. But either way, a pen can easily get sold and tranformed into money.
I can forgive them for only knowing these few words of French. Certainly when I was 5 my Arabic was non-existent :-)
One small child sat next to me for half an hour demanding "ein pfenig", which, if I had any on me I would have gladly given her, certainly easier than explaining to her the new European Euro-zone and the negligible value of 1/100th of a deutchmark ;-))
Very irritating was the time I tried to sit by the main road near Aremd and sketch. After a while I looked down and noticed one of my expensive pens had been stolen. The child waved the pen at me and ran off!!Related to:
- Family Travel