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21st-29th Mar 2011. A selection of photos avoiding near duplicates of Helen's photos which are better

  A  fuller account and Latin names of plants are on Helen's website. Moroccans generally seem to dislike being photographed and so photos were taken from the minibus through dusty windows.    Click to enlarge a photo; "back" to return. "Ctrl ++" makes it even bigger!


MONDAY  21st March   Our taxi set off for Heathrow by a civilized 11.50 with a silent Pakistani driver. No holdups, and so arrived in 30 mins. A 40 min flight to Schiphol where we met the others from our party and Paul our botanist, not looking much like his photo and waited around for the Air Maroc plane to Al Haceima. We took off at 20:10 local and had poor meal on the plane. There was a long wait on arrival for Immigration to fill in forms and we were checked three times to see that we had not got off the plane by mistake, as someone had, but eventually we were greeted by the tour leader Stefano and set off in a large and comfortable minibus on to the Mohammed V Hotel. We had a good room and a fine bath but no chair for overnight clothes or much else   A salad meal was laid out for us in the room.   The wind was strong and blew all night moaning and rattling.

Map of the Coast & Rif Mountains

Hotel Mohammed V & our minibus. The hotel extends down the cliff face.

The development of the bay

Al Hociema fishing fleet in Harbour


Mohammed VI is watching you!

The avenue outside hotel

Looking left from Hotel

King's Residence in Al Hociema (back of, no photos allowed at the front!)

Early stroller Al Hociema

 The beach, Plage Quemado. It was a Spanish base

TUESDAY 22nd March  Day1  Breakfast was croissants etc, excellent orange juice and strong coffee.  I had an omelet and a crepe, though I did not order the latter, both were freshly cooked in the dining room. We set off at 9.30 to get cash at the bank. I changed some money and helped a clerk fill in lots of forms and find the relevant stamp in my passport. We drove round the coast road to Al Hociema National Park, Talla Yousef, stopping to see plants, then on to Imzouren and beyond. We had lunch in an abandoned quarry by old lime kilns.   We had a good lunch including olives and spiced mackerel. More flowers identified until it rained, hard enough to soak all but Margaret who had put on waterproof trousers. We had a last look at an impressive view, but were so blown about that we retreated into the van and came home.   A Royal Moroccan Gendarme stopped us and took away Stephano's passport to inspect in detail, filling out a report and asking him lots of questions. Could we really be looking at flowers? Eventually after a small unofficial contribution we carried on (Anwar managed such things).   Dinner was a spicy chick pea soup, chicken tagine and a synthetic roulade.   We tried some expensive local wine.  

Cliff top search


Red Striped Oil Beetle Meloe majalis

          Pink Dutchman' Pipe  or Birthwort    Aristolochia baetica

Derelict Quarry Building

Fagonia cretica

Watch the traffic!

The coast west of Al Hociema

A village Mosque

 Mirror Orchid Ophrys speculum


Pink Pea Lathyrus clymenum or pisum sativum ?



Still in use!

Founded by the Spanish as Villa Sanjuro, Al Hociema was built as a garrison after the Rif Wars in the early 20th century; rebel Abd al-Krim operated nearby. Moroccan independence brought the name-change to Al-Hoceima, but Spanish influence remains strong in language, architecture and business.

Thistle Galactites tomentosa

Silene Silene colorata

Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis

Echium Echium plantagineum 

Purple Iris Iris filifolia

A row of shops

Gladiola Gladiolus italicus

Cactus, an import?

Across the Oued (wadi)

Moroccan Police

Typical Countryside

Convolvulus althaeoides

Watchers from the hill

An Outcrop

Curious animals come for a look at us

Asters Astericus maritimus

Lime Kilns 

Curious farmers come for a look at us

Chemists Shop

A bee Visiting

Caterpillar Grass Eggar, Lasiocampa trifolii

Moving Luggage


Local Sheep



Anthericum liliago

Countryside with erosion

Raffenaldia primuloides

Wet and windy Hillside

Nosed Grasshopper Acrida ungarica

WEDNESDAY 23rd March Day 2  Another trip to the Al Hociema National Park. We met a local guide, Louarsi, who lead us cross country down a gully to a wadi, Rio San Anado? that lead eventually to the Spanish enclave of La Gomera and a visit the women’s co-operative at Bades. On the way we stopped for a brief chat with two girl goatherds who snapped us on their mobiles and we them.  Later we passed “savages”, as Louarsi called them, illegally ploughing in the NP.  What would they plant? Probably hashish and be hung for a sheep as a lamb if anyone bothered.  Then a long drive to a traditional rooming house, or Gite Rurale, at Jnane where we had an excellent very late lunch, Moroccan style. The owner proudly showed us round and told of his improvements. Some people could not face the evening meal at the hotel after that, treading in dog poo probably did not help! We bought another bottle of wine which helped sleeping.

Fried egg daisy plus bee and bug

Guide Louarsi

Water delivery boy

Poppy Papaver hybridum

Modern Flats

Teucrium Teucrium polium

Grocer and butcher

Yellow Pea Ononis natrix

Hay stack, partially eaten

 Cistus albidus

Silene Armeria

Cow girl



Fast goat herding

Prickly pear plus climber


A new roof is required every year

Tolpis  Barbata

Fennel Thapsia transtagana

In the cliff face

Pretty parasite on Cistus,  Cytinus hypocistus

Grasshoppers Mating

Green Hairstreak


Strange rock Intrusions looking like a growth.

The group surveys a valley

Just hanging out, miles from anywhere.


Nora, Stefano and Margaret

Scarlet Pimpernel  anagallis arvensis and anagallis monellii (blue)

A Local Cow

Lone tree

Hawkweed plus bug

White Butterfly on Lavender

Hide Beetle

Common Blue

Marsh frog

Goat family climb out of a gully

Acacias have invaded everywhere

Violet in the cliff face Viola arborea

Wall Brown

Moon Daisies Bellis sylvestris

Convolvulus on the cliff

Oued  Rio San Anado

Squatters in the National Park ploughing

Tortoise wandering in the Wadi

Double Oxalis


Nosed Grasshopper Acrida ungarica

Sonchus masguindalii

Lavatera Maritima

Jolly Goatherd lady

Tabacco Plant Nicotiana glauca


Water Erosion

Spanish enclave of Al Gomera which is supplied by helicopter

A closer view.

Gite Central Area

Gite Dining Area

Gite Bedroom One

Gite Bedroom Two, cosy?

Gite Sitting Room

Gite Family Bedroom

Son of the house

The Chef in the kitchen

Washing area

Moroccan Salad

Chicken Tagine and chips

Spiced Broad Beans curry

Grandparents' House and foundation trench

Building material, n.b. mud bricks

External view at dusk

THURSDAY 24th Mar. Day 3         We set off at 9 am after I had explored around the hotel area.  Anwar had cleaned the van windows to enable photographs. It took all day driving to the “Blue town” of Chefchaouen, via Targuist and Ketama, which had markets full of people, mainly men, ambling about having arrived in communal taxis, on tractors or donkeys. We made many stops to look at plants on the way. The views were impressive with much more farmed land and better houses.  We stopped for lunch above a slope with Romulea and Gagea in a pine forest. There were some processional caterpillars and some nests in the trees, which they sometimes succeeded in killing.  Our traditional Moroccan  hotel had local pots and decorative work in profusion. Our shower was warm enough initially, but suddenly went cold, an unpleasant shock!  We had couscous for dinner after soup. The couscous was not very appetizing.

Potentilla Hirta


Tripodium tetraphyllum

Yellow gorse?

Village from the hills

More Shops

Tulip Tulipa sylvestris

Old shoes for sale

Leucanthemum vulgare

Cement Shop

Anagalis monellii

          Oxalis Pes Caprae Bermuda Buttercup, an immigrant.

Moulay Ali ben Rachid founded Chaouen in 1471 as a base for Riffian Berber tribes to launch attacks on the Portuguese in Ceuta. The town expanded with the arrival of Muslim and Jewish refugees from Granada in 1494, who built the whitewashed houses, with tiny balconies, tiled roofs and patios (often with a citrus tree in the centre), that give the town its distinctive Spanish flavour. The pale-blue wash prevalent today was introduced in the 1930s by the Jewish refugees – previously windows and doors had been painted a traditional Muslim green. The town remained isolated and xenophobic– Christians were forbidden to enter on pain of death – until occupied by Spanish troops in 1920. When the Spanish arrived they were surprised to hear the Jewish inhabitants still speaking a variant of medieval Castilian. The Spanish were briefly thrown out by Abd al-Krim during the Rif War in the 1920s, but they soon returned and remained until independence in 1956.

River Valley

Meadow Brown butterfly


Tiny Silver Studded Blue, front and and back (click either)

Buttercup Ranunculus

Purple Iris

 Echium plantagineum 

Yellow Orchid Ophrys lutea

"My friend"

Erodium cicutarium

Countryside Mosque

Small copper butterfly


Strawberry Tree Arbutus unedo

Bees drunk on pollen


Valley view from our lunch stop

Caterpillar Nest

Processional Caterpillars

Lead Caterpillar

Hand digging field with mattocks

Pine Forest


More old shoes for sale

Borrage Borago officinalis

"It has gone dark!"

Green Lizard, Whiptail?

Chefchaouan from hotel

By the "Spanish Reservoir"

Star of Bethlehem Ornithogalum umbellatum

Butterfly Moroccan Hairstreak

Field of daisies

FRIDAY 25th March. Day 4        At 4.50 the muezzin bellowed and the cocks crowed. After 10 mins or so it quietened down and only the dogs barked.  We got up and went down to breakfast early.   Coffee, crumpets, muffins and pancakes on offer with olives, tapenade, jam, honey, goat cheese and cream .(And our private supply of Marmite) also excellent orange juice. We met our local guide Mohammed who told how he faked kidney stones to avoid National Service. Set off to the reservoir and walked around it; then on to the gorge with hydroelectric plant at Akchour which had been damaged by a landslip. No one died in the disaster.  We had lunch, a tomato, lettuce and goat's cheese “sandwich” - very young and mild; followed by fruit. In the afternoon we went down by the river; Oued Laou, then finally, by the beach, we saw some stone curlews and a marsh harrier.  We did not point the cameras towards the Moroccan Coast Guard post they are very security minded!

Horizontal fir tree

Fumitory Fumitory capriolata

Above the gorge

River above the Hydroelectric Plant

 Yellow Birthwort   Aristolochia baetica

 The Gorge side

Hawkweed Hieracium pilosella

Peach blossom

Fritillary Fritillaria lusitanica

The gorge Afardon

Prasium majus  And furry bee?

Fumaria capreolata

Old Man in the rock

Erosion at the side of the wadi

Violet  Viola Jaubertiana or riviana

Troll  Scarecrow

Here be Whales!

Rock face garden

 Umbilicus erectus

 Polygala webbiana

Washday at the river

 White Onion Allium subvillosum

Different field poppies Papaver apulum

Serious observers

Centaurea pullata

Orobanche cernua

Dutchman's Pipe or Birthwort Aristolochia baetica



Reeds Oued Laou

Photographing Waves at Laou Beach

Flag Iris

Phoning for a Taxi?


Jellaba (hoody?)


Load of Alfalfa

Another load of Alfalfa

A thinker

Waking home

A Discussion group

SATURDAY 26th March.   Day 5    We drove to the Talassenijane National Park.  Lunch of fresh sardines cooked over wood fire;  walked through the snow and then walked through the woods encrusted with moss; found  peonies. Some members saw the Barbary apes before they disappeared.   I slipped and cracked my head and somehow cut my thumb. I am told I fainted a couple of times, but after first aid managed to get into the 4 wheel drive. I regret I worried everyone so much.  The landrover had some transmission problems on the journey so we transferred to a taxi which delivered us swiftly and excitingly (Moroccan driving!) to Accident and Emergency in Chefchouan. Helen visited an interesting loo.  We were seen quickly, stitches put in and back to the hotel ahead of the rest who had found a Peony flowering.   Mohammed's Brother, a travel agent, was waiting at the hospital and was very helpful, especially as he spoke good English, he also kindly brought the prescription to the hotel.   Everyone was very efficient and I felt  hurt but not too bad.   The wounds needed to be seen on Monday and stitches out in 10 days. The charge was about 50p!

Nora's Joke

Dining Room

Hotel Lounge

Hotel Garden

Rough garden path!

Little Owl in the mist 


Street Protest

Scarabs fighting for the dung ball

I won, and I'm off fast; backwards.

Helen in hollow Cork Oak

Long-Leaved Helleborine Cephalanthera longifolia

Mountain Village, Dissouka?

Aristolochia paucinervis

Saponaria calabrica?

Building materials roadblock

Tipper Driver

Goat Boy

Goat and Kid

 Talassenijane National Park.

Pistacia lentiscus


White Nacissus narcissus cantabricus

Snow too deep that way!

Pine Forest

Searching the scree

Daphne Laureola

Clearing up with help from village dogs

Peony Buds

Forest Glade

White Nacissus narcissus cantabricus

Long Moss/Lichen on trees

I fell over, photo by Nora

Peony coriacea , photo by Nora

Roadwork chicane 

SUNDAY 27th March. Day 6         We visited a couple of locations that had been browsed by goats so had fewer flowers.   No luck with peonies or barbary apes in the Bouhacem Forest, but we did see a narcissus that had been first discovered in 1986, and Paul saw some Barbary Apes.  Home to Chefchaouen early and took a tour led by Mohammed through the old town. The blue colour was provided by indigo before synthetic dyes. He lead us to Berber carpet salesroom but we resisted the sales pitch.   Nora bought beers secretly behind a brown door and so back to the Hotel for our last evening there.

Hotel Gate and Mohammed

Chefchouan at firstlight


Cork Stacks drying

New Town Chefchouan

Aroid Arisarum vulgare

Cistus salvifolius


Road to Old Town Chefchouan


Gladiolas by the Spanish Reservoir

Erodium cicutarium

Our Guide Mohammed (enlargement)


Sun Spurge Euphorbia helioscopia

A Field of Daisies.


Star of Bethlehem Ornithogalum umbellatum






Bread Shop

Cliff face

Road workers camp, they stay for the season


No peonies here, goat cropped

Bee in Cistus

Ranunculus macrophyllus

Bouhacem Forest, no apes spotted.

Buds Cistus populifolius

Today's Driver

Cork Oak with cork removed

Violet Viola munbyana

Primroses, rare in Morocco

Leucogeum aestivum pulchellum?

Only Paul saw the Barbary Apes

Narcissus discovered in 1986 Narcissus albimarginatus

Una, Nora, Margaret, Helen scramble to snap the narcissus

Symbolic Gate to Chechaouan

Roadside stalls, did they live there?

A posh front wall

A lizard on a wall

Town Laundry House at Ras El-Maa

Old Town Gate

Blue Street

Shopkeeper Resting


Bits and pieces

Hotel Alhambra

Knitting shop

Old mates

Another town gate

Mirror shop

Wooden Spoon Shop



A small square

Another town gate

Door ajar and cat


Backlit Geri and Nora



Window Shopping

Drinking Fountain

A Piazza

Carpet Loom

Man who unrolled carpets

Smart Dresses

Hat Shop

Street Corner


Weaving a carpet

Main Square, Plaza Uta el-Hammam

Old Master?


MONDAY 28th March.  Day 7        We went to hospital for my dressings to be changed. The Taxi was not there, but Anwar was, and so the minibus took us. After checking the dressing, which should have been done elsewhere and so they could not charge, we picked up the others and set off for Tangier via the city of Tetouan. We looked down on the town, took panoramic shots; climbed up the cliff for more photographs of plants and on to lunch.   We walk along a stream with thorny Acacia, Barbary nuts and alliums and then by the shore two more orchids and an aroid. Wonderful cliffs with wind carved patterns. Gibraltar was dimly visible on the horizon and a flock of Bee-eaters flew above.  In Tangier our bags were delivered by a “bellhop” in traditional Turkish dress and we later had an poor dinner at the hotel, the Intercontinental, but the room was comfortable. I tried the local beer, 30p, a mild larger.  

Roadside Pot Shop



City of Tetouan

Boy on a mule

Small Mosque, sponsored by Coca Cola


Les Routiers Hotel, Tetouan



Our road

Hanging Hawkweed

Snapdragons Antirrhinum majus

Allium Triquetrum

Muscari comosum??

Scilla peruviana

Firewood on mules

Portuguese Squill  Scilla peruviana

Yellow Orchid Ophrys Lutea

Marigold Calendula arvensis


Mountain Village

Aristocratic Sheep

Growing in a Crevice

Alert Donkey


Village House and dogs

Girls at the well

Large Green Lizard

Village Kids


Who are you?


Red pea Tetragonolobus purpureus

Anwar and the spring

Acacia thorns

Heavy Load?

Ornithogalum umbellatum


Iris Gynandriris sisyrinchium

Eight legs

Eating Acacia Capra aegagrus hircus

Oued Aliane

Wind eroded cliff

Gibraltar seen dimly


Woodcock Orchid Ophrys sphegifera


Orchid Ophrys sphegifera



TUESDAY 29th March  Day 8        We were swept in to breakfast at 0700 by a flood of Germans who disappeared at 0720, thank goodness, Fried eggs and “Wieners” were available plus all the usual croissants. Off at 0900 for drive along the coast then inland looking for Great Bustards, no luck, may be because of the drizzle. Back towards Tangier where a different sort of police, checked out Anwar and counted us. After much shouting we went on for lunch at the Hercules Grotto (a cave we did not enter) two people had "feesh",(large sardines), the rest a tasty Kefta. We had three or four cats in attendance and when we left they jumped on the table and cleaned up. We visited the lighthouse and I used our remaining dirhams to buy a stone plate with fossils from a street trader. I probably paid too much but it was convenient as they all have to be changed back.. We paid a quick visit to some camels and then on the airport.  We were probably the only passengers as early as requested. Two hours wait, then a 2hr 45min flight to Heathrow.  Unfortunately there were “severe delays” on the Piccadilly Line and then we had to be shown how to buy tickets on the machine covering all lines by a helpful porter. We took a taxi from the station and arrived home about 1230 with both cats away somewhere so no welcome.


Turkish Style Lamp

No one wears a helmet, must be a robber.

Plain with no sign of Great Bustards


They are still building a lot in Tangier

Lupin lupinus angustifolius

Oxen and wooden plough

Pheasants eye Adonis annua

Hotentot Fig, Imported

Sheltering from the wind

Friendly guard dogs

Geri studying Dune Formation

It needed a big push to start moving

Cooking Lunch

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Sand dweller

Sand dweller  Arctotheca calendula

Colour Co-ordination

A Camel Singing

Geri plus a friendly dog

Hercules Grotto Car Park

Substitutes for Tagines (aluminium foil)

Hercules Grotto entrance and glimpse of painting of Hercules

Salad that came with the Kefta

Local Crafts for sale

Cap Spartel Lighthouse

No sign of the owner

Stefano ignores street traders

Taking a rest

Spanish Gorse Genista lydia

Broomrape Orobanche densiflora.

Convolvulus tricolor

Una Exploring

Parasite and host