Four wheel drive adventure in the Sahara Desert, Mauritania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Chinguetti, Mauritania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Back to Morocco on January 31st.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Time to head to lower elevations!

We waited until the sun came up over the mountain at about 10am, then set off walking uphill towards the cedar forests. We planned on about a 10 km (6.2 mile) return walk directly from the campground, and gaining another 300 meters (1,000') or so in elevation.

It was chilly, only calling for a high of about 13C (55F) but with clear blue sky and sunshine, and no wind to speak of. Quite comfortable for hiking uphill.

Looking back at where we came from. Still frost on the ground in the shaded areas.

This part hadn't seen any sun yet and it was chilly.
Ruth, with her hood up.

Can you see Ruth standing at the base?

So far, we hadn't seen any other people. Or monkeys. There was a spot marked on my map about a km away where people had seen monkeys, but it was really close to the main road. There was also a picnic area very close to that tree above where I had read that people have seen monkeys, but there were none to be seen yet.

There was a marked trail off to one side, so we decided to see where that led.

We only walked for about five minutes, when Ruth said "There's a monkey, right there!"

And there she was and she is a Barbary macaque monkey

Only about 10 meters (35') away from us, and she didn't seem bothered by us at all. I had read that they are very used to people.

She sat and posed a little bit.

We think she was a she because there were two little ones playing in a tree nearby.

One of the little ones.

The little ones were fun to watch.

They were playing and swinging and jumping.

What are you looking at?

Little ones playing.

And then we heard the sound of breaking branches and looked up just in time to see a huge branch come crashing down nearby. Yikes. And then we saw what caused the crash, and the larger male monkey came swinging from branch to branch down to the ground.

"Did I do that?"

Again, he wasn't at all bothered by us.

We had fun watching them for ten or fifteen minutes, then continued on the trail.

Big cedar trees!

But we also see a lot of this.

This area is part of Ifrane National Park. Unfortunately there is a lot of illegal logging that takes place here, but there is also some legal logging, so it's impossible for us to know which is which. The cedar trees are sold for big money, even on the black market and a lot of locals see it as an easy way to make big money. Apparently the forest rangers here don't have enough resources, although they say that where there once was 20-30 illegal trees being cut every day there is now only about 200 per year. 

We came across a guy and a donkey hacking away at a tree with an axe. He also had a pack of 7 or 8 dogs with him, and they were a bit aggressive with us. He tried his best to block them from us, but it wasn't a good situation. I had to pick up a big stick to fend them off while Ruth carried on down the path. Eventually he managed to call them off. 


Big trees!

Our path eventually came out close to the intersection of the main road. There, we found a parking lot with about a dozen motorhomes in it, and a really touristy section of stalls selling trinkets related to the monkeys and the cedars. A couple of scruffy looking monkeys were there, with horses for rent to take you into the forest to see more cedars and monkeys. It was all kind of sad, I thought.

So glad that we came across the group of monkeys that we did earlier in a much more natural setting when we were the only ones around. 

We retraced our steps on the path back down to the campground.

A lot of lambs!

This is where we are camped.

We were surprised when we got back that there was only Max (on the left in with the cherry trees) and one other van.

Dish washing area.

Wood fired hot water heater for the showers!

Max, parked at GPS 33.449297, -5.170442

We were thinking of staying here one more night, but there is a cold front moving in with some precipitation. In fact, they are calling for five cm of snow overnight tonight, and only a high of 3C tomorrow during the day. So it's time to head to lower elevations!

We have to be at Casablanca airport on Friday, and unfortunately there isn't much worth seeing between here and there. We're headed to an agate farm that apparently accepts overnight camping, so we'll see what that is like when we get there!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And in Canada...

6 comments:

  1. Say hi to Monsieur Rick in Casablanca!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, he might be hard to find in now! On top of that we aren't actually going into Casablanca just the airport which is outside of the city.

      Delete
  2. I like the looks of that campground, especially the lack of other people! And the monkeys are cute as can be. It is sad to hear about the tree poaching.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So did we, it was nice a quiet and our host was a lovely man. It was actually busier the afternoon that we pulled in but still very nice.

      We loved watching the monkeys, especially the two young ones, they were very entertaining.

      It is sad about the illegal logging but at least they have made big improvements compared to what it used to be. We can only hope that it will improve even more.

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. So do we! Max has worked out perfectly for us. :-)

      Delete

There are more comments on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TravelwithKevinAndRuth