Entering the Anti-Atlas
From Mirleft, we wound our way up into the exotic Anti-Atlas Mountains, a southern extension of the better known Atlas range. The desert mountainscapes here are harsh and extraordinary with huge geological uplifts and vertical layers of earth that leave visitors gasping at every turn. Overloaded trucks, goat herds, and psycho Moroccan drivers barreling down the middle of the road also leave them gasping. (Thomas dodged and weaved like a pro!)
When I first visited this remote region in 1989, the slopes were dotted with beautiful peach-colored mud villages full of traditional families living the way they had lived for generations. The adobe architecture was carefully maintained and houses were decorated with white outlines and gorgeous tribal designs. We discovered that in the last 27 years a lot has changed. Many of the picturesque villages have been abandoned as locals have left the region to find work in the cities or moved into newer, more comfortable cinder-block houses. Much of the traditional architecture is eroding away and collapsing. (Man, did that sight make me feel old!)
Having said that, we spent several days combing the central Anti-Atlas region and discovered there is still quite a bit to see. We loved the stunning route through the Ait Mansour Gorge to the phenomenal Afella Ighir Oasis and on to the Talat N’Yssi, Tiouadou and Tazount oases. The dry river beds were full of bushes blooming with hot pink flowers. We also spent a day exploring the roads high up into the mountains to Tanalt. The terracing along the way looked like a desert version of Southeast Asia. We EVEN pushed our little car up and over a very off-the-beaten-track pass to Ou Ggougane. (Yikes, don’t tell our car rental agency.) After much exploration, we can confirm that there is still a lot to discover.