On our way from the south to the north of Morocco we stopped at a place called Arzu. As we drove north we noticed how green it was getting. Arzu is home to a large cedar forest. I didn’t know much about cedar but it turns out that it’s pretty interesting. Cedar has many uses – cedar oil is great for the respiratory system so good for coughs, helps skin recover quickly, helps with the relaxing of the mind so perfect for massages. Another interesting fact about cedar oil is that it can slow aging and increase life expectancy. It’s especially used for the internal organs such as the kidneys, spleen, pancreas… It also has antiseptic properties, anyway an amazing wood.
Let’s crack on. Mum and I decided to set off on a hike into the woods. We met a man on a donkey who warned us about the evil dog and suggested we take a detour which led us to a path and we began our ascent. The woods looked like the woods back home, very green, and it really smelt of pine.
The day before, dad had seen a few monkeys at a tourist stop where they were selling peanuts. Mum and I wanted to see if we could see some for ourselves without the tour buses.
We got to the top of the hill. As we got to a clearing we decided to head back to the campervan. We hadn’t seen any monkeys and we had been walking for hours. I looked over to the other side of the clearing and thought I saw something falling out a tree. We stopped and tried to take a photo for the distance just incase it was a monkey. As we got closer we realised that there were HUNDREDS of monkeys, cuddled up on the branches, swinging from tree to tree and playing cards. We slowly made our way closer and sat in the mist of the monkeys. We got really close it was amazing. They were all picking at the ground for food (they mainly eat bugs and a variety of plants), running in every direction and the baby ones were falling from the trees trying to catch each other. They weren’t actually playing cards. There was was one tree that my mum got close to after she noticed that all the monkeys were visiting it. We went closer and saw that the monkeys had found a pool of water in a tree trunk. We stayed with the monkeys for an hour and a half, then headed back home another way. On the way down we passed an area full of tourists and no monkeys. We enjoyed getting the chance to be so close to the monkeys by ourselves.
Barbary macaques are an endangered species, more than 3 quarters of the population live in the Middle Atlas (where we were for those not paying attention) so it was a great privilege to get so close. These are the same type of monkey found in Gibraltar.
My new best friend.