Visit the mythic village of Imilchil during the time of the Marriage Festival in September, when the Aït Haddidou Berber tribe remember their very own Romeo and Juliet, Tislit and Isli
The Atlas Mountains are remote and ancient. They constitute North Africa’s highest mountain range, known by local berbers as ‘Idraren Draren’ — Mountain of Mountains. They run across Morocco for almost 1000km, encircling Marrakech and separating the Mediterranean from the Sahara.
Until recently, running water and electricity were nearly unheard of. Today, they are still luxuries in most of the mountain towns here. Often those who live here still measure distances in time: places may be two hours by foot, or four hours by mule. In fact, many of the most beautiful places here are inaccessible for cars, so trekking is your only way around.
Without any of the conveniences and vices of modern life and technology, it’s a tough but tranquil place to be. The air is clean in a way that is hard to describe to any chronic city crab, and the stars in the night sky are simply brilliant.
Looking a little peaky
The charming mountain village of Imlil is a good base for exploring the High Atlas. Scattered within it are restaurants and shops selling carpets, fossils and jewellery, and many thousands of people flock here every spring to climb Mount Toubkal. This can be done in two days, reaching a height of 4,167m. Be aware that you can only reach the peak when the snows have melted, between May and October.
The Grandmother of Marrakech
A very different alternative to Imlil is the walled city of Taroudant, also known as the ‘Grandmother of Marrakech’. Set amidst olive groves, citrus orchards and fields watered by the melt off from the High Atlas, it is bursting with life. As its inland location protected it from marauders in the past, this was once the region’s capital. It’s impressive fortifications remain, as do the ancient souks and the kasbah.
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