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These Goats Climb Trees? — The Backstory Behind Morocco’s Argan Oil

Welcome to Morocco, a place that’s home to interesting architecture, fascinating cuisine, hospitable people, and even one-of-a-kind products.

One of the country’s msot unique commodities is argan oil (or “Moroccan oil”), which is used in many beauty products around the world. But your favorite brand probably won’t put argan oil’s backstory on the tiny label attached to your face wash, body lotion, or shampoo.

Here’s what the label won’t tell you: the oil comes from argan trees, which are often crawling with tree-climbing goats!

Don’t believe us? Just head to Essouira, a small seaside city just two hours south of Marrakech, Morocco, where you’ll find fields and fields of argan trees — and, yes, where you’ll even get to see goats climbing up the tree trunks and branches. Why? Simply because the goats love to eat the nuts that grow high up on Essaouira’s argan trees.

I’ve tasted argan nuts, and they’re delicious, so I don’t blame the goats for wanting to eat them. (But who knows? Maybe they just want silky hair of their own…)

Interestingly, some Moroccan oil is actually made from goat-digested argan nut (that is, the nuts that the goats eat and poop out), which results in a darker-looking oil. This oil undergoes an extra cleaning stage before it’s added to our beauty products, but even so, locals don’t recommend using it. Usually, it's best when the argan oil comes from a family or cooperative — and when the process is entirely goat-free.

One last fun fact! Did you know that all of the argan trees in Morocco belong to the king? By royal decree, Moroccan citizens are allowed to harvest from the trees for their own benefit.

So, the next time you pick up a shampoo bottle and read the list of ingredients, we hope you’ll remember the tree-climbing goats who love argan oil just as much as you do!

Grab your backpack, there’s more to explore. Get started with our list of the top seven places to visit in Morocco!