Click on this photo and look carefully, and you may be able to see the mules coming to our rescue.
The little log and stick bridge is supported by sandbags at each end. It has sagged onto the surface of the muddy river, its waters swollen by melting snow from the surrounding peaks. It has no handrail.
Local children skip over its 15-metre span. Village women stoically struggle across, carrying absurdly large bundles of animal fodder on their backs.
Nobody seems to have any trouble. Until it’s our turn – six Dutch hiking friends, one Australian and our Berber guide Khalid, two hours into our five-day trek through the foothills of Morocco’s High Atlas range. Continue reading
Nobody knows the Pyrenees walks better than this man.
Back in 2006 some friends and I walked a week-long section of the Haute Route in the Pyrenees. The guidebook and maps we followed then had been prepared by Dutch hiker Ton Joosten, an expert in the area.
This week it’s a coincidence, a privilege and a pleasure to find myself walking in the Pyrenees with the man himself there in person as our guide.
Ton is not only a guidebook writer, he’s also the cook, housekeeper and host of his guesthouse Le Petit Refuge in the village of Ayet, Bethmale Valley, where he offers guest accommodation and guiding.
If any bonus were needed, he’s also a superb landscape photographer. So I’ve been standing close to him, trying to pick up a few pointers. I’m pleased with some of the results. It’s hard to take a poor shot in this wonderfully varied terrain. Continue reading
A fairytale sandcastle, melting into the desert.
We’ve never been to Morocco before, so everything seems wonderfully exotic. And our first night’s accommodation is extraordinary.
Khalid leads the way…though I’m ahead of him on this occasion.
“One of the world’s most famous places that nobody knows about,” says my Dutch hiking friend Bert.
We’re perched on a ridge above a wild canyon that drops several hundred metres to a dry river bed. My stomach is dropping with it; heights are not my strong suit. Away to our right is a patch of bright green, surrounded by clay houses camouflaging themselves by matching the ochre of the surrounding hills.
It is an amazing sight, and we have it all to ourselves. We don’t even know the name of the canyon or the village.
Is there anywhere else in the world anything like this?
That’s the appeal. Spectacular though it is, few people visit this part of Morocco, a six hour drive from Marrakesh. At the height of the trekking season we’ve met only one other group on our five-day adventure. For a combination of scenery, exotic culture and a sense of adventure, this trek in Morocco’s Ouarzazate region is as wild as anything I’ve ever done.
The full story on this blog will have to wait until I’ve made proper efforts to sell it. Meanwhile, here’s an assortment of pictures to whet your appetite. It was hard to choose! Continue reading
Is there a better destination anywhere in the world? We’ll be staying at Pumphouse Point. Yes, in that little building at the end of the causeway.
Backtracking: My article about our recent trip to Tasmania has now been published in mainstream media, so the full story can now be released on the blog…
There was bound to be opposition. The friendly Wilderness Society volunteers we meet at Hobart’s Salamanca Markets don’t like the idea that a few privileged people can fly into remote Tasmanian lakes in a seaplane and ‘spoil things for everybody else’. Continue reading
Looking down on Sok Kwu Wan fishing village, where a seafood meal awaits.
Yes, it is possible to escape the madding crowd in this town.
For one of the most densely populated parts of the planet, Hong Kong has a surprising amount of green space. Most people live literally on top of each other in high rise apartment towers, concentrated along the shore of Hong Kong Island.
Behind them are forests leading up to the Peak, which absolutely must be scaled, by foot or by cable train, by every visitor. Except for us.
We find our Hong Kong green space on one of the outer islands. Continue reading