A leisurely breakfast at Riad Sara included gf bread……..couldn’t resist keeping a bit for later. What a treat! Fes was left far behind as we settled in to the Prado for another adventure on the road.
Surprisingly our first stop was just on the roadside to see the monkeys squabbling, and then more at the National Park where once the biggest cedar tree stood proud and tall. While the monkeys thrive on tourist peanuts, the cedar has sadly died. Good to see so many families enjoying the natural wildlife and cedar forests though.
Being in the drier north of Africa I didn’t really expect lions, but an ice cream stop in Ifrane set me straight. The somewhat rough statue of the reclining lion is a tribute to the animal king’s demise in Morocco due to being hunted to protect livestock. This winter ski resort attracts the rich and offers chalet style architecture to reduce snow damage. A well-heeled town.
Being in such a small group of 4, we can take our time and go off the beaten track as the mood takes us. Brahim detoured to a peaceful lake and we shared some serenity with a few sheep – both human and four-legged – and a few birds. Am not sure Thomas Hardy had this in mind when he wrote Far From the Madding Crowd but it certainly fitted the bill.
Agricultural pursuits, particularly the apple, quince and cherry orchards; crossing the Middle Atlas mountains; and seeing the dogs patiently wait on the roadside for possible food scraps from passing buses, as well as the herding of the many sheep kept us curious and entertained along the route.
Lunch at a relatively new hotel/restaurant was a refreshing stop, and only a short drive from the Riad Timnay which had a fairly traditional exterior. The relative isolation about 20 kms from Medilt meant that we had time to explore the surrounding plain.
The signs to the Ecological Park and the Prehistoric Site were a lure and the intention was a quick look and then a swim before dinner at the complex’s restaurant. An hour and a half later we had walked far and self-guided ourselves to the lake with its aquatic reeds, birdlife and quiet location nestled amongst the grapes, orchards of olives, almonds and plum trees.
The Parc complex appeared to be incomplete, but we ventured on and discovered the most amazing array of mineral samples in situ along paths on a higher ridge. Fascinating examples of quartz and various fossils were lying exposed to the elements, in what has been a substantial geological exercise in discovering the varieties and ensuring their positions and value are protected from the elements. What an afternoon find!
Then we saw the amazing plain and what we believed was the prehsitoric site…….but unsure as the signage did not continue past the lookout. The High Atlas mountains were hazily defined in the distance and we knew that was to be our destination tomorrow.
The walk back was steep and rocky, and the lure of the pool had gone as the cooler wind came in. Perhaps an early morning swim might be a possibility….or not!
Another amazingly diverse day done and dusted.