Scottish adventurer undertakes discovery trek across Morocco
LONDON--Scottish adventurer Alice Morrison has finished a mammoth three-part trek across Morocco that spanned all elements of its diverse terrain — water, desert and mountains — giving her unique insight into some of the North African kingdom’s oldest nomadic communities.
Accompanied by three Amazigh guides and six camels, Morrison completed the third part of her quest Tuesday, a 68-day journey through 1,400 km of the North African kingdom’s rugged mountains — termed the Atlas Expedition.
“I’ve been walking through history,” said Morrison. “We began in August this year, soon after Morocco’s strict lock-down had been lifted. It’s been an extraordinary and sometimes difficult experience with extra logistical and health concerns – but fascinating.”
A longtime adventurer and TV presenter, Morrison has taken on some of the world’s most exhausting terrains, cycling across Africa from Cairo to Cape Town and running what many believe to be the world’s most difficult footrace on earth –the Marathon des Sables.
Her journey through Morocco was equally challenging, bringing her first across the famed Draa River and then taking her 1,000 miles through the scorching Sahara desert plains before her mountain trip. The journey saw her become the only woman to have walked all the way across Morocco’s longest river, and earned her the distinction of trekking the full length of the country.
Braving the elements during a global pandemic brought additional obstacles — both for her and the nomadic communities she came across during the journey.
“I have witnessed first-hand how even the most remote nomadic tribes have been affected,” she said. “In the 1,400 km of walking, every single community we met, told us that they’d had no cases but the economic effects had been devastating.”
Traditional Moroccan herdsmen, reliant on selling their flock for revenue, now struggle to find buyers due to shut-downs and belt-tightening measures. An ongoing drought and a lack of grazing opportunities have only made matters worse.
As a woman who speaks Arabic and Amazigh, Morrison was also able to gain unique access to rural women and listen to their stories and ambitions. Doing so, she noted a remarkable generational shift that is taking place throughout the country.
“Morocco is going through a period of great change now as universal education is implemented,” Morrison said. “In just one generation, the rate of girls’ literacy has leapt significantly, and this often means they want a different life from that of their mothers and grandmothers. The old ways are dying out but the young women I met are hopeful for a bright future.”
The ambitious odyssey also took her on story-book adventures, such as exploring the tombs of the giants of the Draa, discovering a lost city, escaping quicksand and even finding ancient dinosaur footprints — something she points to as a highlight of the journey.
“I called the expedition – the quest for dinosaurs- more in hope than expectation,” said Morrison. “So, it was fantastically exciting when we actually found dinosaur footprints in the area near Mgoun at the very end of the exploration after nine weeks of searching.”
Morrison’s expedition was sponsored by British manufacturer Craghoppers and ITT innovator NTT DATA, whose representatives are eager to hear tales of her once-in-a-lifetime quest.
“We are delighted to have supported Alice along her latest trilogy of expeditions through Morocco.” James McNamara, Brand Director at Craghoppers, said, “And we can’t believe that she is finally at the end of her last leg. She has so many stories to tell that you cannot help but be carried away with her enthusiasm and zest for adventure.”
Morrison encouraged others to take up exploration as a way of life that allows us to appreciate the beauty and depth in all corners of the earth.
“Exploration is something we can all do wherever we are – opening our eyes to the world we live in. I believe that’s incredibly important,” she said.