Exploring the Atlas Mountains!

After seeing and loving Marrakech so much, I had my expectations set very high for our visit to the Atlas Mountains…and alas I was not disappointed. I LOVED the Atlas Mountains and part of the joy was in the journey. It was nice to get out of the cities and see the ever changing countryside. We visited an Argan Oil Women’s Cooperative on the way and saw how Argan oil is produced which was very interesting (although the Argan oil was a lot more expensive than what I had anticipated, equating to around $23 per 100ml bottle).

The women in the Argan Oil Co-op providing a demonstration on how the Argan Oil is produced.

The women in the Argan Oil Co-op providing a demonstration on how the Argan Oil is produced.

We then continued on, climbing higher and higher up the Atlas Mountains. The road is the windiest road I have ever been on, with sides descending at least 100m (and no guard rails). I was a little concerned to begin with, especially at the pace we were driving but decided to embrace the experience and I loved it! It was so interesting to see how rapidly the typography and landscape changes. We would go over one hill and it would be rocky and barren, the next would be lush and green, the next sandy, etc. I was very surprised at just how lush the landscape was, as I had imagined sand dunes before going.

The road up to the High Atlas Mountains!

The road up to the High Atlas Mountains!

We eventually got to the village after a very scenic drive, where we hopped on mules and rode them up to a traditional Berber village. The mule ride was the absolute highlight of my trip! I couldn’t recommend it enough! I think I might have scored the slow mule, as he did need a bit of encouragement to get up the hills. Everyone loved the mule ride, complete with a traditional Berber saddle which was actually quite comfortable. We then reached Mohammed house (our host), where we got to go inside and experience a traditional Berber house. Usually Mohammed hosts his A&K guests for a Berber breakfast however we were a little pushed for time and weren’t able to stay. We then rode our mules back down the mountain to the first village. There were a number of tourists in this village and quite a few hiking shops. We saw lots of people in hiking gear and mountain biking gear and I would suggest this would be the place to go if an active holiday is your forte. The scenery is amazing!

Me on my mule...Yes I am actually on a mule but I think my guide was a little rusty on the camera!

Me on my mule…Yes I am actually on a mule but I think my guide was a little rusty on the camera!

The girls on their noble steeds!

The girls on their noble steeds!

The beautiful setting to enjoy a traditional Berber breakfast.

The beautiful setting to enjoy a traditional Berber breakfast.

We then backtracked 30 minutes down the road to reach Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot resort. This property is absolutely beautiful and would make a perfect chill-out from a busy itinerary abound Morocco. We had lunch here which was also very nice. Kasbah Tamadot has everything –spa, swimming pool, tennis courts, even a stable with camels, donkey’s and goats! The accommodation is beautiful and there is also the option of “tents” which is basically glamping – very fabulous! I really loved this property and you could easily spend 2 or 3 days here for some relaxation.

Kasbah Tamadot

Kasbah Tamadot

Inside one of the tents at Kasbah Tamadot.

Inside one of the tents at Kasbah Tamadot.

We then took a 1.5 hour drive to Kasbah Bab Ourika which is in the Ourika valley (still in the Atlas Mountains). I would suggest arriving on a Monday, as this is market day and it was an experience in itself driving through the bustling market of the village near the resort (this took about 30 minutes and was the most intense traffic jam I’ve ever seen but a great experience!) Bab Ourika is a beautiful eco-friendly property, with an amazing view of the Atlas Mountains. The property is run by a New Zealand lady called Amanda and her Moroccan husband. Kasbah Bab Ourika is an absolutely stunning property with beautiful gardens and the neatest and most lush vegetable garden I’ve ever seen! It to is a great place to go for a chill out, although reading their compendium they have loads of activities to offer such as hot air ballooning, hiking and more. There is no internet, wifi or television at the property. Kasbah Bab Ourika has one restaurant which has no set menu. Each day, the chef will put together a menu for the day, using the produce from their vegetable garden and local market. The menu has about 3 options for each course including one vegetarian or vegan option each day however if there is something specific that you feel like, you are welcome to let the chef know and they will make it for you….now that’s service!! I really liked this idea and Amanda the Manager explained that the property tends to have average stays of around 5 days, so the changing menu keeps dining interesting for their guests. All of the rooms have an excellent view, mine was over the national park next door, with brilliant red toned soil and green foliage.

Kasbah Bab Ourika

Kasbah Bab Ourika

A beautiful room at Kasbah Bab Ourika.

A beautiful room at Kasbah Bab Ourika.

I would highly recommend a visit to the Atlas Mountains while you are in Morocco…you simply can’t miss it! You must do a mule ride and get out to the remoter villages and experience the rural way of life…you won’t be disappointed!

The beautiful Atlas Mountains do not disappoint!

The beautiful Atlas Mountains do not disappoint!

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Comments
One Response to “Exploring the Atlas Mountains!”
  1. DNamto says:

    Cool…Nature with its raw beauty 🙂

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