We’d picked up a new friend, Sam, from Taghazout on our way to Imsouane. He was another surfer and had been invited along by the Vanareys to surf more of the Moroccan coast.
As he hopped in the van I told him the rules: “You can come, but if you see goats in trees you have to yell!”
I was only half joking. Of course there were no rules to the trip, but after a few years of visiting Morocco I still hadn’t seen these mythical goats in trees and I was getting desperate.
About 40 minutes in to the drive suddenly Tommi yelled out…
“Goats in trees! Goats in trees!”
That’s Tommi above with one of the baby goats that the Moroccan goatherd had thrust in to her arms to cuddle.
She’d spotted them just as Max was about to spin the van around a bend in the road and I am so glad she did!
I was excited. Tommi was excited. Even the boys were pretty impressed! Goats in trees doesn’t happen every day guys! These goats can climb trees!
The tree climbing goats were adorable, especially the babies. Their cuteness and incredible tree climbing skills have been attracting travellers on the coast road for years now, and they’ve become experts at posing for us…
So why are goats climbing trees in Morocco?
Well, the goats don’t climb any old tree. The tree they’re clambering on in these photos is the Argania spinosa, a gnarled and thorny trunk that produces the Argan fruit.
And the goats really have a thing for this fruit’s pulp. So much so that they have developed the ability to climb the trees specifically to eat it.
But it gets even stranger. The fruit that attracts the goats in trees surrounds a hard nut that the goats just cannot digest.
But by eating the entire fruit and then passing the nut, the goats are helping one of the most famous industries on Morocco:
The production of Argan Oil.
The nut contains the kernels that are ground down to produce Argan Oil for cosmetics and food dressings, and traditionally the goats were introduced to the industry because removing the fruit pulp around the nut was one of the hardest jobs.
In more recent years, companies producing Argan Oil have been opting for other methods of fruit pulp removal. Initially I thought this was to make the oil seem more attractive to tourists, having not come from goat excrement!
Which eventually could negatively impact the economic lives of the women who previously profited from the goats in trees!
Where to spot the goats in trees
Many people have also said that you can find them on the road between Marrakech and Essaouira. I reckon that as long as you’re on the coast near the region of Essaouira you’re in with a chance of spotting them.
This is the route we took, and if I remember we stumbled on them just beyond Tamri:
If you visit Morocco and spot the goats in trees, let me know in the comments below or tag #thehostelgirl on Instagram so I can be just as excited for you as I was for us!