The Pack Mule of the High Atlas: Historical perspectives on their roles and worth

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Mountain tourism has emerged as a significant source of income for mountain communities across the High Atlas of Morocco. Today, almost every family living in the shadow of the Toubkal (4167m) owns a mule and it is the mule that allows the muleteer to seek work carrying luggage, trekking equipment and tourists.

The emergence of this sector can be traced back to the explorations of a number of travellers and alpinists during the first half of the 20th Century. The number of visitors entering the Toubkal National Park remained small, however, until the incursion of a track in the 1950s.
The local people at the time were subsistence farmers. Over the last three generations, the valley has seen artisanal mines open and close and agriculture switch to concentrate on apple, cherry and other high-value crops. As the local population and tourism demand have grown, tourism, construction and other industries – reliant on the mule – have emerged. Muleteering is thus a largely new activity.

This paper charts the changing role of the mule within these communities over a 95 year period and comments on how this, in turn, impacts on the mule’s worth and welfare.
Period10 Oct 2014
Event titleHydra Mule and Donkey Conference
Event typeConference
LocationHydra, GreeceShow on map


  • pack mule
  • Working Equines
  • High Atlas
  • Values