The most visited area (most accessible due to flights into Marrakech) is the High Atlas. Although skiing is on offer in Oukaimeden, the number of people that travel to ski in Morocco is limited. Instead it is the scenery, hiking, biking and other opportunities that bring visitors.
Just under one hour's drive outside Marrakech you will reach village of Asni. This is the entry point into the Toubkal National Park. It is a little further along from here where you will find the most 'luxurious' establishment in the area – Kasbah Tamadot - a stunning property with gorgeous valley views and wonderful facilities.
A little further along the mountain road will bring you to the village of Imlil. From here a rocky, rugged and fairly steep path, inaccessible by vehicle and only on foot or mule, leads to the Kasbah du Toubkal. This Berber guest house is a wonderful example of tourism interacting and benefiting local people – with a 5% levy on the guests’ bills being channelled back to the local community.
Uniquely the Kasbah provides for both school groups in dormitory style rooms but also for individual travellers in more comfortable rooms. Although general facilities are limited - there is no pool and so on here! The experience of staying or visiting such a wonderful place at the foot of Mount Toubkal is exceptional and the views outstanding.
For keen hikers, the lodge even has an overnight mountain hut for those wishing to ascend Mount Toubkal - with a local guide in tow of course - as well as many other trekking options for exploring the region. Whatever your level of fitness, the walking can be adapted with your private guide to suit and walking can be arranged on a day trip from Marrakech or for guests staying anywhere in the region.
Other activities in this area include mountain biking, mule and horse riding and picnics in spectacular locations. In Spring the Berber village of Ouirgane, located on the valley floor of the River Nfis, is a lovely place to visit to enjoy the almond blossom. From Marrakech one can also easily enjoy a day trip to see some impressive waterfalls at both Ourika and Ouzoud.
Another aspect which is somewhat hidden and only exposed to those who take the time to explore that little bit deeper is the friendliness and generosity of the mountain people. Even though accessible, the mountains remain relatively untouched by development of tourism and traditional ways of life thrive here. The majority of staff in accommodation establishments are local, with only management staff being brought in from outside.
As in most of Morocco this can mean that it can take some time to establish an understanding of service levels and expectations from a western perspective, however what it does create is a highly authentic experience. Take a walk with your guide into a local village and you may well be asked in for a cup of mint tea with a local family. We can even arrange meals with Berber Families and even if you do not speak French, a warm welcome will be offered and some delicious home cooked cuisine.
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
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