Scottish adventurer and TV presenter Alice Morrison recently discovered dinosaur footprints in the M’goun region, southeastern Morocco.
Alice made the discovery during a 1,400-kilometer expedition across the mountains of Morocco, which she finished Tuesday, October 27.
“I called the expedition ‘The Quest for Dinosaurs’ more in hope than expectation,” the adventurer said. “So, it was fantastically exciting when we actually found dinosaur footprints in the area near M’goun at the very end of the exploration after nine weeks of searching.”
Alice’s expedition team used climbing equipment to reach and measure a series of footprints. They confirmed that the footprints belong to Sauropods, a dinosaur species that existed more than 66 million years ago.
“At one point as I was perched on a ledge above a sheer 20-meter drop, with my tape measure in hand, I made the mistake of looking down and I did wonder what on earth I was doing,” Alice Morrison said, recalling the day she made the discovery.
Alice’s Moroccan trilogy
The adventurer’s new expedition, her third in Morocco, began in August, soon after Morocco lifted its nationwide lockdown. The 68-day exploration trip began in Nador, northeastern Morocco, and ended in Ouarzazate, the gateway to the Sahara Desert.
“I’ve been walking through history,” Alice said about her trek across Morocco’s Atlas Mountains.
Alice’s expedition team included three local Amazigh (Berber) guides — Brahim Ahalfi, Addi Bin Youssef, and Ali Ahalfi — as well as six camels: Hamish, Hector, Jock, Willie, Farquhar, and Sausage.
When she first began her adventures in Morocco in 2019, Alice expected to face many challenges, from water shortages to deadly animal encounters and hostile environments. However, she never expected that her adventure would coincide with a worldwide pandemic.
“It’s been an extraordinary and sometimes difficult experience with extra logistical and health concerns — but fascinating,” said the adventurer, nicknamed “the Indiana Jones for girls.”
Alice Morrison’s previous expeditions in Morocco took her along the trail of the Draa River — the longest river in Morocco — and the Sahara Desert.
After her first trip, the adventurer became the first woman to walk the full Draa River. Meanwhile, her second expedition took her on a 1,000-mile trek across the world’s hottest desert.
In total, Alice walked the entire length of Morocco, around 4,000 kilometers, and documented her entire journey on her blog.
While the discovery of dinosaur tracks was a high point of Alice’s expedition, the adventurer was also keen to document how rural communities in Morocco’s mountainous and often remote regions have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have witnessed first-hand how even the most remote nomadic tribes have been affected. In the 1,400 kilometers of walking, every single community we met told us that they’d had no cases, but the economic effects had been devastating,” Alice said.
The lifestyle of communities in Morocco’s mountainous areas greatly depends on their livestock. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the selling price of sheep and goats significantly decreased because the demand declined.
Hotels and restaurants that usually purchase livestock from rural communities no longer needed meat because of the lack of tourists. Meanwhile, households also cut down on meat, leaving livestock breeders with more sheep and goats that they can sell.
The loss of income, in addition to drought, severely affected Moroccan herdsmen. Alice Morrison said she witnessed nomads bringing livestock to local grocers and begging them to take the animals in exchange for essentials, such as sugar, tea, and flour.
A hidden part of society
With the ability to speak Arabic and Tamazight, Alice had the opportunity to discover the life of women in rural communities and document their stories. As rural women are usually segregated from the public, meeting and talking to them would have been impossible for male adventurers.
While exchanging with women from the Atlas mountains, Alice noticed a significant generational evolution.
“Morocco is going through a period of great change now as universal education is implemented. 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 adventurer said.
“The old ways are dying out, but the young women I met are hopeful for a bright future,” she remarked.
A story to be continued
As Alice Morrison’s three-part adventure in Morocco ends, her followers are eager to discover where her curiosity and bravery will take her next.
The Scottish adventurer has already taken part in some of the world’s most extreme adventures. She has cycled across Africa, from Cairo, Egypt, to Cape Town, South Africa. She has also run the Marathon des Sables, known as the toughest footrace on earth.
Recently, she retraced the ancient salt, gold, and slave trading routes in the BBC 2 series “Morocco to Timbuktu: An Arabian Adventure.”
Alice has published three books about her adventures, including Amazon bestsellers “Adventures in Morocco: From the Souks to the Sahara” and “Dodging Elephants.”