The mountains of the Toubkal National Forest, Morocco
From Ait Benhuddou, we drove up into the mountains into the Toubkal National Park area.
In this region, stands the tallest snowy mountains in North Africa.
The Jebel Toubkal peak towers over 4100 meters (13,448 feet).
We stumbled upon a beautiful retreat, and for the past three days we spent some heavenly time exploring the many peaks and valleys of this beautiful region.
Kasbah Angour is owned by a British couple, who have done an amazing job building this hotel from the local natural stone.
They started planting the amazingly beautiful gardens, in which their hotel is set, over five years ago.
The rooms are spacious and airy with windows overlooking the lush gardens and the mountains in the distance.
We loved every minute of our stay here, including the delicious food and the lovely swimming pool.
For breakfast they offered Berber Eggs, which are eggs cooked in onion and tomatoes, freshly squeeze juices and freshly baked bread.
Dinner was arranged for us, by the friendly owned who came to our breakfast table to discuss our daily exploration options, and choice of activity.
He drew maps for us so we will not get lost on the winding mountain roads.
Every morning he gave us different vegetarian choices for our dinners.
On day one, we drove the narrow winding mountains roads into the remote rural town of Imlil.
From Imlil, many people rent climbing gear and go summit the mountains.
We later drove into the mountains in a long and isolated loop to see the remote adobe and stone villages.
These villages hugged steep mountain cliffs.
They cultivated fruit and grain in terraces carved into the mountains.
It is apple harvest season in the mountains now, and wooden crates filled with apples were in front of many homes.
Village kids run from all over to see us, and ask for money.
Before we entered the isolated mountain road, In every bend of the road that we stopped to enjoy or photograph, people would materialize out of nowhere and offer to sell us jewelry, fossils, stones with precious minerals in the center, fruit, herbs and more.
The road was washed away often, by runoff from the mountains.
We felt lucky to have been able to make the whole loop without needing to turn around.
On the second day, we drove into the Ourika Valley all the way to to Sidi Fatma.
The road at first went through ordinary small towns, where the locals live, traded, ate Tajines, and sat in grimy cafes by the dusty roads, covered with exhaust fumes.
Later as we went deep into the mountains, there were small villages with restaurants for tourists, small guest houses, and many stores and road stands selling carpets, pottery, clay, gifts, offering camel rides, and more.
The most beautiful part of the road, was towards Sidi Fatma, as the road narrowed down and climbed into the mountains.
On one side of the road was the wide river, with many small restaurants and cafes across the river, most were connected to the main street by suspended narrow hanging bridges.
The same construction of suspended bridges, were used by the locals all around the area, by people who lived across the river.
Some of these local bridges were in shabby shape.
Most restaurants maintained half way decent hanging bridges, or they would get less tourists, but the locals had no one to entice, and so their bridges were only lined with some drift wood as walking paths, and were suspended by wires that did not promote much confidence….
I have to admit that the area was so picturesque.
The banks of the river had beautiful trees growing between large holders.
There were long haired Weeping Willows trees with goats and sheep grazing underneath them.
I could see donkeys munching lazily and birds of all kinds flew around, whistling as if to welcome us…..
The cafes across the river looked wonderful with tables so close to the water, so you can rest your feet inside the river, on warm days, to cool you off as you relax.
Some offered thick carpets with thick pillows for people to lay around and enjoy the day…..
All restaurants offered good smelling Tajines cooked in front of you the traditional way….
I was very sad that we did not get to eat there….
The reasons were twofold… First because I ate a huge breakfast, and because we told our hosts at the hotel that will be dining at our hotel.
And so we left this lovely valley and drove back, had a lovely dinner and some good rest.
Our few nights here in the mountains have been wonderful.
I rested, read, saw a lot… and spent a lot of time in contemplation, as well as had two great road trips into the remote mountain villages.
Tomorrow we leave this unexpected haven of quiet and beauty, and drive into Marrakech.