Majestic Mountains and Painted Gorges:
Journey Through Light and Dark

Trip Highlights

. "red city" of Marrakech, gateway to the South: the High Atlas, kasbah country, the Sahara

. Telouet and Test n'Tichka (see trips above)

. twisting M'Goun River slices through breathtaking rose-colored cliffs and creates lush valleys of fragrant roses and hedgerowed plots

. sacred painted canyons of M'Goun, accessible only by mule or on foot, whose heights in some areas close off the sun, compares spectacularly to our great Canyons in the west

. Tizi n' Ait Imi (about 9500ft.), amidst a range of snow-capped peaks, offers sweeping views of green valleys and earth-toned settlements perched oddly on mountainsides

. hidden Valley of Ait Bougmez, called Morocco's "Little Switzerland"

. Ouzoud Falls, a great natural phenomenon in a beautiful setting off-the-beaten trail

. homestays with mountain Berbers whose dress and customs are special to this remote land.


Trip Details

. 12-day trip, begins and ends in Marrakech

. 7 nights in maison d'hotes/auberges; 3 nights in the field

. all meals included

. mules for portage where no roads are

. moderate to challenging; average 5-6 hours a day graduating to steep climb at the end



Itinerary

Days 1-2 Transfer in Casablanca to Marrakech (see trip above)

Days 3-4 Heading south towards Ouarzazate, we stop at Telouet (see trip above), and move on to a collection of ancient kasbahs at Skoura, most splendid in late afternoon light where we picnic, spending the night in one of our favorite auberges, a contemporary Kasbah decorated in Moroccan style where traditional food and hospitality warm the soul. Next day we roam the Valley of the Roses (see trip above), relaxed by the tranquil setting of this river valley and the friendliness of the people; we have the pleasure of sharing a meal with a Berber family in the idyllic setting of Ameskar before settling down in a rustic inn.

Days 5-6 Following the M'Goun River northwest as the terrain changes to wider vistas bordered by terraced cliffs, we collect our mules, and camp along the river across from a kasbah relic, and enjoy afternoon tea with a traditional Berber family. Continue along the river as it broadens further and see overhanging buttes painted with purple, red, rust, and ochre. We enter the M'Goun Gorge trekking in water, probably the most mysterious and awesome of all the gorges, as the silence of the place, the inspiring height of its walls, and the play of brilliant light and dark shadows proves a spiritual experience. We move on with a change of setting, huge boulders with scattering of fragrant cedar, and bed down at a Berber farm.

Days 7-8 We climb gradually, passing interesting rustic villages, where women, decorated with tattoos, kohl, and colorful jewelry, work in fields. With the majestic M'Goun Mountain on our left, we make our ascent up the mountain pass, Tizi n' Ait Imi (about 9500 ft.) and picnic at the apex, with panoramas of the snow-peaked Atlas and green pastures of the valleys below, and wind up in a simple, but elegant auberge evocative of Provence. Next day, we venture into the beautiful Valley of Ait Bougmez, exploring this isolated but happy region where time has stopped: fields of barley and wildflowers, water-powered mills, murmuring streams, markets, and village schools. We stay a second night at this beautiful mountain retreat.

Day 9 Depart for Marrakech, stopping at the Ouzoud Falls, ending the trip with a festive dinner in our classic riad in the medina.

Day 10 Marrakech/Casablanca/ US





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