0357. A Moroccan Shangri La (Mor 189--new)

Moulay Brahim Atlas Travel Blog

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I hop in a grand taxi and we take a side road that climbed up, up the steep mountain… The road literally chisels right into the cliff… until we reach… Shangri La!

We come around a bend, and there is Moulay Brahim, a cluster of houses, hotels and restaurants perched on top of the cliff… then you climb up a stairway and you suddenly disappear into a bustling, cozy little marketplace… you keep walking and then suddenly you’re no longer walking up stairs, you’re walking down stairs… and then there’s a opening and there it is:  a full sized town, nestled in a little dip in between the mountain peaks, isolated from the outside world.  It’s like Moulay Brahim was built as a final refuge which could never be conquered from the valley far below.

There’s something magical about a town built on top of a mountain.  Since the beginning of time, humans have opted to live in the valleys where there is water and fertile soil.  So when you find a town perched on a mountaintop you can’t help but wonder what ancient secret inspired these folks to build their town their. 

It immediately reminds me of my accidental discovery of the village at the top of snowy Mount Tai’an in China…

I can only imagine what Moulay Brahim must look like in the winter with all the surrounded mountains blanketed in snow…

I scurry about to soak in as much of the town as I can.  Climbing to the peak of the village to get a clear view… crossing the dip to the residential neighbourhoods on the other side.

  Not quite an old medina—but a lot of the houses are still old medina style…

Moulay Brahim is clearly a popular destination for Moroccans, as you can tell by the multiple little hotels and tagine joints—but it seems relatively undiscovered by foreign tourists…

I easily find a cheap room—and this time I actually break my stinginess rule and pay an extra 10 dirhams for a room with a view…

Next morning, I head out to explore the town once more.  I find a partly covered meeting place that overlooks the valley below.  This is where thousands come for the annual Moussem pilgrimage… But today, I have the place to myself—and a couple of local folks and Moroccan tourist who come to this spot to contemplate the view.

 

One of my best parkbenching spots so far

I’m told that if I follow the path a bit further, I’ll get an even better view.  Sure enough.  I go around a bend and there I can see the still snow covered mountains, the river and narrow fertile valley far below, the cliffs, the forests on the slopes—all in one sweeping view…

Moulay Brahim might actually bump out Essaouira and Chefchaouan as my F.M.T.J.C.C.M.L (Favourite Moroccan Town to Just Chill and Contemplate on the Meaning of Life)—simply because no there are practically no foreigners here…

But this isn’t chilling time—I’ve got more terrain to cover… so I must continue on…


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Moulay Brahim Atlas
photo by: nathanphil