Cultural Focus: Berbers of the High Atlas Mountains

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Goats along the trail…

Impromptu singing and clapping broke out when my guide passed friends outside a little shop…

There are very few roads and most of the villagers think nothing of walking an hour to and from work each day.

A yummy Moroccan lunch, high up in the mountains, in the middle of a long hike was an absolute delight! But I felt uncomfortable being treated like a queen. A blanket and a pillow materialized out of nowhere for me to rest while Hassan hung out with a cook who had hiked up a steep mountain with a laden mule to prepare my “picnic” lunch. What a surprise when all this food was presented, and more so when my guide indicated it was intended just for me! I urged him to come back and join me. Although initially hesitant, he did, and was great company.

A tiny village in the High Atlas Mountains…

Wandering through the village, you’re very likely to run into mules or goats…

Berber men eating a traditional lunch and drinking mint tea…sitting on carpets, watching tv.  This table and tv stand were the only furniture in the 2 room house. The women and girls of the house were washing up in the adjacent kitchen.

Grandma sports a tattoo on her chin from an earlier era … Village children call all elderly woman “Grandma.”

This Berber woman shows the palms of her hand which are stained red with henna…a symbol of beauty they believe attracts males. Girls, too, stain their palms and tattoo their feet.

Berber teens don’t casually date…or even flirt. If a guy and girl are seen talking together, they are usually married within a week.  When passing on a trail, eyes are averted and heads are down without a simple hello.

  • Rod Bilz - I visited Morocco in the High Atlas mountains and trekked through many of the villages in the Imlil area and your photos capture the spirit of this area exactly as I remember it. Amazingly diverse country and some of the friendliest people I have ever met.I have a photo of an impromptu lunch in one of the mountain villages. One of the guys in our group happened to know somebody in the village and we sat on carpets under the shade of big walnut tree in their back yard while the women used the food we brought and added some of their own to prepare a delicious lunch for everyone. Great experience!!!!

  • Kim - Hi Rod, sounds like we had similar experiences! It is a beautiful place to explore with wonderful hiking. I found the people in the High Atlas to be some of the friendliest in the country, and enjoyed visiting some inside their home to learn about their culture.

  • vinod - Nice shots, keep up good work

  • Michael Peyron - Great shots, well done! However, I think if you return between November and May you will be able to exploit to the full the magnificent light you get at that time. Makes a big difference.
    Meanwhile, visit me on my website ( for a full coverage(texts, maps & pics) on the Atlas ranges.
    Michael Peyron

  • Yada - Are these shots from the village of Amil??

  • admin - No, but is was within a day’s walk from Imlil.

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