Our day trip out of Marrakech drives us past the airport and before you know it, the route is shaded by lush vegetation, olive and orange orchards past the occasional village. Off the tarmac and onto off road, the scenery is completely different – barren light brown plateaux, a true stone desert. The locals call it Agafay desert: this might as well be the Sahara as the feeling of solitude and complete isolation is similar. The land seems to stretch out forever as the impression of being completely disconnected from civilization takes shape. For the next couple of hours, we are submerged in this immensity undisturbed by any sign of life. Civilization finds us again under the shape of a few adobe houses, where we can sample a tea with the locals or experience trekking by camel.
A few hours later, our excursion from Marrakech skirts past swaths of vegetation and not long after, we are back on the tarmac, sidelined by old eucalyptus trees. We arrive on the edge of Lalla Takerkoust lake built as a dam, where Marrakech gets its electricity from. A great spot for lunch or a tea break, with a superb view over the lake and for those looking for a rush of adrenaline, quad biking or jet skiing can be arranged locally.
After the lake, our itinerary takes us up into the Atlas Mountains. Ruins of Kasbahs once property of the local Pasha border the road. Kik Plateau is 1800 meters high and offers spectacular 360 degrees views and, in the spring, a marvellous spread of alpine flowers. Scattered Berber hamlets greet the view and it feels like you travelled back in time, perhaps to the age of the spaghetti western. The driver can arrange for a visit of a Berber house for you to witness the day to day life of these mountain people.
On the other side of the plateau, lies the picturesque village of Moulay Brahim with its shrine where women from all over the area come and light candles, praying for the much coveted baraka. By the river, camels and restaurants await their clients either for a Berber tagine or a camel ride. Further on lie the peaceful village of Asni and Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson’s Morocco’s retreat, in the heart of this lush area covered with apple, cherry and plum orchards sending out their harvest into the city. A very important Berber market is held on every Saturday where producers bring fruit, vegetables and livestock to sell. If you are interested in seeing a Berber souk, almost every village has one on a specific day of the week. Lunch at Richard Branson’s can also be arranged but it is best accommodated with our Atlas and the Lake day trip, especially when building a serious appetite after some trekking in the High Atlas.
On our tour back to Marrakech, small villages with their mud- brick adobe houses greet your eye sight, stacked into the hillside or lining the water course shaded by the palm grove. The river gives place to the canyons and gorges and the local Berber granary towers over the landscape, a quiet sentinel guarding the silence of the valley. Past Tahnaoute, the tarmac road follows its course among olive or orange orchards and golf courses to reach Marrakech soon after.
You are free to choose your time of departure. However, in order to make the best out of your day out, we recommend leaving no later than 9 AM. Forecasted return time in Marrakech is 5 PM
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