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HOLIDAYS IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS MORROCO

Morocco's Atlas Mountains run from the Atlantic to the Sahara through the middle of the country. Their environment is harsh - hot in summer, snow-covered in winter - but the surprisingly fertile valleys allow the Berber tribes to cultivate a large variety of crops. The High Atlas, Middle Atlas and the Anti Atlas each have their own characteristics, but they are all perfect locations for walking and trekking. In early spring the slopes of the Anti Atlas are gently coloured with the pale pink and white of almond blossom, while summertime in the High Atlas provides the stark contrast of lush green barley in the irrigated valleys at the foot of the barren rock strata above.

Jo is offering walking and Yoga holidays in the Atlas Mountains. Springtime in the Atlas mountains is perfect for walking, there is an abundance of beautiful wild flowers that are awash the landscape. There are beautiful villages such as Ain Leuh 25 km south west of Azrou. The drive here is through thick cedar forests, great for walking. We will walk through the hills to find a series of wonderful waterfalls in the hills above.

In the woods you may be lucky enough to see troupes of Barbary apes foraging amongst the trees.

Moroccan Yoga Holidays

If you feel like exploring Morocco and doing some Yoga up on the terrace of a beautiful 16th century Moroccan Riad (traditional Moroccan home) each morning, then why not come and join Jo for a weeks holiday in

Eassaouira, from 1st May until the 7th May 2015.

or

Eassaouira, from 22nd May until the 29th May 2015.

Essaouira is an outstanding and well preserved example of a mid-18th century fortified seaport town With its long beaches, vibrant souks surrounded by a magnificent wall the Moroccan seaside town is a laid back place to come and enjoy this Yoga holiday.

We will be practicing Yoga every morning from 7.30-9.00, you don't need to have previous experience of yoga, the sessions will be offered to your capabilities.

In the evenings we will be exploring chanting, pranayama (breathing exercises) and some meditation.

Breakfast and evening meal will be included in the fee. Any excursions will be an added extra. We will go and see how the women at the Womans Co-operative produce Argan oil. All proceeds will help the women that work there.

We will spend a morning at Sidi kaouki beach where the surfers bounce along the tops of the waves.

May is a beautiful time in Essaouira the temperatures are good and it is not too windy.

Essaouira's biggest attraction may be its relaxing atmosphere. It's not a big town, and being a beach place it has a holiday feel about it. Essaouira is very much a working port and a fishing town. It is famous for its export of Sardines.

The Medina and Souqs (markets)

You can enjoy the relaxed shopping experience in Essaouira. The medina is surrounded by walls and there are 5 main gates you can navigate by. The medina is free of cars and it's also quite clean. The souqs (bazaars) are easy to navigate and you don't have to worry about getting lost. They are located around the junction between Rue Mohammed Zerktouni and Rue Mohammed el-Qory (just ask a local shopkeeper when you're there to point you in the right direction). Basically, it is a relatively small area and you can explore at your own pace and walk down any narrow alley that looks interesting to you.

Ramparts and The Port

Essaouira's medina is walled like many old towns in Morocco and the ramparts are quite impressive as they're built on the cliffs. Locals and visitors alike enjoy strolling along the ramparts as the sun sets. The port is a busy port filled with fishing boats. A large fish auction is held every Saturday but watching the daily catch being sold every afternoon to restaurants around the harbour area, is fun to experience as well. This is where you can hear the swark of seagulls swooping over your head, filling themselves on scraps fed to them by the fishermen working in the harbour.

Beaches

Essaouira is on the Atlantic coast which can at times be quite windy, it is also known as the wind city. The beach is also nice for a stroll and since it runs for about 6 miles (10km) there's plenty of it. Locals use the beach to play soccer and other sports as well as swimming in the summer. At the far end of the beach there are horses and camels to hire which will take you off to the Jimmy Hendrix village if you wish or just go for a ride along the beach.

Hammams

Essaouira has quite a few hammams and there is an old hammam directly under the riad where we will be staying. The sexes don't mix obviously, so this is a really great way to meet some local Moroccan women (if you're a woman). Opt for a scrub down with traditional black soap, it's really a treat.

If you wish to join me for a holiday, please make a booking by e-mailing Jo Waldon on jmwaldon@aol.com or contact me for further information.

The cost of this holiday is £500 for the week. This does not include your flights and I do believe that from April or May you can fly direct to Essaouira from London and other airports. Otherwise you can fly to Marrakech and it is a two and a half hour bus ride to Essaouira.


Where are Atlas Mountains? Information about the history and facts of Atlas Mountains.

Atlas Mountains; a mountain system in northwest Africa, extending approximately 1,500 miles (2,414 km), southwest to northeast, from the Atlantic Ocean through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia to the Gulf of Gabes in the Mediterranean Sea. Atlas is the European name for the system, reflecting the ancient Greeks' belief that it was the home of their god Atlas. In Arabic it is called Djezira el-Maghreb (Island of the West) because it is an "island" of relative fertility in a desert region.

The Atlas system comprises several roughly parallel ridges, including three major ranges in Morocco (from north to south: the Middle Atlas, the High or Great Atlas, and the Anti-Atlas) and lesser ranges in Algeria and Tunisia, of which the Maritime or Tell Atlas along the Algerian coast and the Saharan Atlas to the south are most important. The High Atlas, stretching across central Morocco, is the most impressive range, with an average elevation of 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). Its highest peak, Djebel Toubkal in western Morocco, towers 13,661 feet (4,164 meters).

The northern flanks of the Atlas are covered with oak, walnut, pine, and cedar. Here fertile valleys and plateaus intersperse the mountains. Southward the slopes that face the desert are barren. Iron, copper, manganese, lead, marble, limestone, and basalt are the system's mineral deposits, and some oil and gas is exploited.

Geologically the Atlas Mountains are more European than African. They were born of the same global convulsions that reared the Alps and the Himalaya, the course of which may be traced eastward through Sicily to the Italian Apennines and westward far out to sea in the Canaries. The main foldings occurred in the Jurassic period and continued into the Miocene, but there are older Paleozoic and Archeozoic rock formations.

The Atlas region is rich in legend and history. Phoenician sailors venturing into the Atlantic told tales of snow-capped peaks far inland on the African continent, and the Greeks believed that their Titan, Atlas, who bore up the heavens, dwelt there. The Atlas ranges once sheltered Carthage from the hostile tribesmen of the Sahara. The native people, like most mountain dwellers, have always been brave and freedom loving. Numidian horsemen of the Atlas region provided Hannibal's army with an effective mobile striking force. Native Berbers swelled the armies that overran Spain to establish the kingdom of the Moors. Later, Muslim corsairs preyed upon Christian shipping. Riffian tribesmen long defied Spanish armies and yielded to France only after repeated campaigns. Mountaineers of the Atlas region participated actively in the rebellions that brought Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria their independence from France in the 1950's and 1960's.

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