Kasbah du Toubkal – Luxury Trekking in the High Atlas

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As we sit sipping sweet mint tea gazing out the sculpted slopes of the Imlil Valley, the call to prayer echoes up from the Berber villages below. I adjust the cushy pillows around me and lean out to take in the mountain panorama that surrounds the Kasbah du Toubkal. Behind our hill-top refuge rises the barren, rocky peak of Mt. Toubkal, which at 4,167 m (13,670 ft) ranks as the highest mountain in North Africa. Opposite us, a wondrous waterfall pours into an oasis of walnut, apple, and – most importantly – cherry trees. It’s literally raining cherries in the valley below.

When trekkers talk dream destinations, the conversations often turn to distant lands such as Nepal, northern India, Tibet or Peru. Scanning our archives will prove that these reputations are well deserved. But trekkers-in-the-know keep a few dazzling finds to themselves, off-the-beaten-track treasures where the hiking enthusiast can walk the trails without the crowds. One of the best kept secrets Continue…

Shades of Merzouga

Merzouga is one of Morocco’s top desert destinations. The sweeping dune sea, which has been featured in films such as The Prince of Persia and The Mummy, is where everyone comes to live out their desert dreams. Of course, we showed up in the middle of a series of raging sandstorms with blistering 105+ temperatures, so our desert dream felt a bit more like a very sandy, very hot hallucination.

Yes, we spent a great deal of our time in our hotel room watching the dunes push their way through the gap under our door. When the winds dropped a bit, me moved to the hotel restaurant and sipped mint tea with clouds of sand swirling around us as the hotel owner sat staring out an open door wondering aloud why his hotel was so empty. (Gee, I wonder why!) On two occasions, the wind stopped and we ran out the door into the Continue…

Ait Benhaddou and the Oases

If our lead picture looks familiar, it’s probably because it is one of the most filmed locations in Morocco. The ksar (fortified village) of Ait Benhaddou has been popping up in movies for decades. From The Man Who Would Be King to The Mummy to Gladiator, Ait Benhaddou is arguably Morocco’s most celebrated big screen legend. And if you are a Game of Thrones fan, this is the epic city of Yunkai (minus the giant CGI pyramids.) Can you believe it, we’ve visited Yunkai and Astapor in the same trip?

The UNESCO world heritage site was our entry point to the river valleys and remote oases of the Moroccan Sahara. The whole region is a playground for culture junkies and adventure travel fans. We grabbed another rental car in Ouarzazate, Morocco’s desert take on Hollywood, and set out on an epic seven-day exploration winding and bumping our way from ksar to ksar, kasbah to kasbah. I would officially like to thank Thomas for Continue…