wild macaques & age-old cedars – hiking in the atlas
Morocco has been my home for three years now. Yet, this place never stops amazing me – the natural diversity, the beauty of the people, the colours and the tastes, the lessons it has taught, and the ones it’s still teaching me. One of these moments of amazement arose a couple of weeks ago, when I was being chased through a cedar forest by a hungry monkey. Fortunately, the monkey was a Barbary macaque, and so (basically) a vegetarian (ie., it didn’t want to eat me) – not-as-fortunately, these vegetarians have massive canine teeth, unlike me. A bit further down, you can see the monkey in question, still posing in a deceptively friendly manner next to my hiking companions.
The monkey was chasing me, because he wasn’t entirely unused to getting food from passing apes, and the bread we offered was obviously not enough. Perhaps he was more greedy than hungry? I guess I can’t blame him. The macaque and his family pack are a part of a free-living, wild population found in the Atlas mountains of Morocco, more specifically in the protected Cèdre Gouraud Forest.
I’m planning on making a post dedicated to Barbary macaques soon (which, by the way, are the only primates found in Europe, apart from humans), but for now, I wanted to share some photos from a fun, interesting, and slightly unnerving hike through yet another stunning, wild area of Morocco.
Is this Morocco? Absolutely! The coniferous forests of the mountains are important habitats for many species, including the endangered Barbary macaques.
A beautiful day, a beautiful place to hike.
A huge Atlas cedar and three jolly apes.
A funnily shaped juniper – perhaps trimmed by sheep?
Three apes and a monkey. That’s the guy who wanted to steal my food, still pretty friendly here.
Jokes aside, it was nice to encounter different macaque family groups during our walk. There were the very brave ones by the parking lot, who happily let their young play close to the cars and us; there was the food-demanding group along the hiking path in the forest; and there was a very shy group who always kept at least 50 meters between us and them. Without doubt, there are groups we’d never see, because they don’t want us to.
The circumference of this cedar was about 8 meters (26 ft), which I estimated by trying to hug it.
Sunset after a long day of hiking.
Our hike was only for one day this time, but I’d love to go for several days – and there isn’t much stopping me, as all this excitement and beauty is about 3 hours from where I live. I hope you enjoyed the journey, too!