Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ourika Valley - Day 10

We headed up into the mountains the next morning. We stopped at a women’s cooperative where they process Argan oil. The Argan tree is endemic to Morocco and is rather limited to a relatively small growing area. The oil is used in cosmetics and the Berber women have used it in traditional Moroccan medicine as well as for culinary purposes.

Lower falls from hike out
The coops are generally run by local women. Traditionally nuts are said to be collected using the services of goats. The goats are partial to the Argan fruit and have a certain amount of tree climbing skill to get the nut. Having eaten the fruit, they eventually expel the nut and it’s collected to start the extraction of the oil. Fortunately, these days the fruit is picked and the ladies extract the nut from the fruit for expelling the oil! They did have a small demonstration area where the ladies were cracking the fruit to get the nut, roasting it, processing it into a dough and then working it to release the oil. While the demonstration was by hand, much is completed using machines in the back. The resulting oil is then processed to produce various cosmetics and foods for sale in the coop.
Lower falls

Middle falls
From there we headed up into the Ourika Valley, a beautiful oasis with lush trees and bushes with small Berber villages nestled in the mountains. Ali found a hiking guide for us to take us up into the hills to see the waterfalls. The hike was very enjoyable, hiking up the hill, around rocks, and actually up streams in places. The most difficult part of it was the wet rocks where footing was hard to find. The guide was great, knowing where the trouble spots were – as well as the best places to view the falls and take pictures.

Berber refrigerator

Take a look at the "Berber Refrigerator". They piped water from the falls, (small hoses in many places) spraying it over a rock area. In the area, they placed drinks and such for the tourists - keeping them cold.

What a way to end a fabulous trip! 

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