The Macaque’s at The Cascades

The Macaques at The Cascades

High up in the foothills of The High Atlas the Oued El Abid flows to the waterfall ‘Cascade D’Ouzoud’ where it plummets 200ft into an idyllic valley covered in Argane and Olive trees. This river powers the mills that grind corn for that tasty Moroccan unleavened bread. Such is the importance of these falls that they have been named after the mills, Ouzoud, meaning “the act of grinding grain”.

We often stay at the Camping Natur which has the commanding site beside the top of the falls. The next morning we walk down the steep winding path to the bottom of the Cascades. Here it is always a pleasure to enjoy an omelette sitting in the sun in one of the cafe’s set amongst the olive trees.

On the way down the warm air is full of the sound of birdsong, mostly sparrows. Very occasionally a creature shows itself, much to the surprise of many a visitor who imagines that only birds live here.

The Macaque live here; they have become so accustomed to living with the Berbers that you can be on the receiving end of some incredible encounters. You are able to spend many privileged hours just sitting and watching them playing together. I remember one wonderful encounter between myself and the young Macaque in the picture. He appeared in front of me, stopped, then we spent a while looking at each other without directly staring or actually catching each other’s eye. As I sat still he edged closer and closer, until eventually he reached out a finger and poked my back; then rushed off pretending that he most certainly had nothing to do with it!!

On another occasion a group of youngsters were playing in an olive tree, enthusiastically jumping up and down on a branch which eventually succumbed to their exuberance and fell to the ground. The group shot off looking over their shoulders, just like children who knew that an adult would chastise them soundly. Events like this make you realise that the distance between us and them is not so far at all.