One night the massive boulder in the centre of this Berber village, crashed down from the summit of Adrar Tichki and entombed Chammharouch as he lay asleep.
The boulder has since been painted white and a shrine built next to it. Pilgrims trek here, from far and wide, sometimes with animals to sacrifice on the terrace behind the Marabout (holy tomb). It is believed that sacrifices at the tomb of Saint (Sidi) Chammharouch help cure mental illness and stress.
Visitors are warmly welcomed in this little Berber village but it should be noted that the holy shrine itself is only for those of the Muslim faith.
There are a few shops selling meals and drinks and traditional Berber jewelery and clothing etc. Items bought here, rather than in the Souks of Marrakech, cut out the middle men and provide a welcome boost to the local economy where many of the goods are made.
Don’t expect to make a quick purchase. The customary ritual of negotiation, often accompanied by mint tea, can be a protracted affair. If you don’t really want to buy anything it is best to be firm but polite, don’t start negotiating for something you’re not really interested in.
These tough, proud people deserve respect, it is hard to get a living from this harsh landscape. They are great hagglers and need to be. Potential customers on this trail can be few and far between out of season, so your approach is likely to be watched from afar and locals will vie with each other to persuade you to visit their shop first.
Short of cash to pay for the donkey carrying our kit down to Imlil and the taxi back to Marrakech we were limited in our ability to make a significant financial impact, but having purchased a few small items for family back home and enjoyed some good natured banter, we made a gift of what little remained of our hill food, along with some zinc tape and dressings from the first aid kit.
Pictures of Sidi Chammharouch (alt. 2350 mts, 7709 ft) seen from above and the view NW from one of the rooftops in the village (Nigel looking for more loose boulders before we settled down for lunch!). Note the charcoal tagine on the left of the terrace and the mobile phone “cradle” on the right column (the only place for a signal). Photos by Mike “Twid” Turner IFMGA www.themountainguidingcompany.com
See our other posts for more stories about KragRags ice-climbing trip to the Toubkal region of the Moroccan High Atlas mountains.
Spelling of place names in the Moroccan Haute Atlas can vary considerably ie single or double “m” in Chammharouch. I’ve used the spelling shown on the 1:50,000 Toubkal & Marrakech “waterproof” map published by Orientazion www.orientazion.com bought from Stanfords, the excellent map shop in Covent Garden, London www.stanfords.co.uk for £13.95.
Useful guide books to the region include Des Clark’s Mountaineering in the Moroccan High Atlas covering Walks, Climbs and Scrambles over 3000mts, published by Cicerone and available from www.nomadicmorocco.com and Moroccan Atlas, The Trekking Guide by Alan Palmer, published by Trailblazer www.trailblazer-guides.com £12.99 or US$22.95 available on Amazon www.amazon.com
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