There is a true sense of escape in the Atlas Mountains. Somewhere in the distance (around 30 minutes away) is the hinterland of Marrakech. But it is across the Atlas Mountains that visitors experience a different Morocco, an authentic, relatively untouched part of Morocco. At every turn on a guided walk, somewhere magical emerges including Berber villages, lightly forested mountain sides and foliage comprising the largest cactuses visitors may ever see.
The High Atlas range is known for its dramatic mountain peaks covered in snow for much of the year, its beautiful small villages in far flung places and its biodiversity. One of those villages in the foothills of the mountains is Tahanaout where Berber Castle Kasbah Angour is located. This unique, independent hotel offers guests the opportunity to experience the Atlas Mountains and beyond with guided walking tours with local guides.
Visitors who want a half-day guided walking experience can enjoy one of three walks which showcase Berber villages, a National Park and stunning scenery and views:
1- Berber Villages & Mountains, Medium (or Leisurely) (11km) 3-4 hours
Head east to Agadir village to admire the marvellous views north to the Haouz Plain and south to the mountains (including Mount Toubkal, 4,167m). The circuit continues south along a delightful small valley and into a lightly forested part of the Toubkal National Park. Proceed to Outghal village to see houses constructed from baked earth, with the return through olive groves and mountain fields.
2- Azrou Village & Local Market Gardens, Medium (7km) 2½-3 hours
Head north to the Ighigheyene river valley and continue alongside market gardens and orchards until reaching Douar Azrou, a very attractive village perched on an outcrop of rock. Climb the hill to admire views of the mountains to the south and continue through further Berber villages.
3- Tintar Plateau & Tagoum Village, Medium (9km) 3 hours
Descend from the Kasbah (altitude 1,000m) and cross the Sidi Fares valley passing below the Forest Guard’s house to follow the path along the lightly forested valley until we reach an open plateau. Continue higher up (1,200m) to admire the views of Tagoum village perched on a hill above the Moulay Brahim Gorge. For the return leg descend by a path via Igli village.
Other tours are also available including a visit to Imlil for the Day with mule trek & picnic, 4x4 Adventure in the Mountains, Tours of the Mountains by Car, Ascent of Mount Toubkal (2 days), Camel Rides, Visits to Marrakech and Golf.
Kasbah Angour is home to 25 individually designed bedrooms and suites and the whole castle is decorated throughout with colourful, local Moroccan Berber crafts. Visitors and guests can dine both alfresco and indoors at the Grand Atlas Restaurant where all meals are prepared using local and seasonal produce. There are modern touches also including underfloor heating, air conditioning and Wi-Fi. The hotel has its own shop which is ideal for all manner of small home furnishings and gifts.
Outside at Kasbah Angour and within 10 beautiful acres of diverse gardens, guests will see both ornamental plants, shrubs & tress and plant native to the arid Atlas Mountains. There is also a busy kitchen vegetable garden within the hotel grounds and a wide variety of fruit trees (olive, apricot, plum, peach, pomegranate, orange, mandarin, fig & quince). A large outdoor swimming pool with unique views of the mountains is the place to unwind at throughout the day.
This is an area of total natural beauty and remains relatively untouched by tourism. This is part of the appeal and the Berber locals take immense pride in their region. Berbers are Morocco’s proud indigenous people and visiting local Berber villages and staying in a Berber castle only add to the uniqueness of a trip here in the mountains. Kasbah Angour supports the local community in a big way. Not only does the hotel provide permanent jobs but it also purchases everything locally supporting local farmers and businesses. Freelance guides and other professionals are also employed locally and they possess local knowledge and provide a unique awareness of the surroundings.
At its highest, the Atlas Mountains stand at 4167 metres above sea level. The slopes seen from Kasbah Angour hide away fertile green valleys in their folds and mountains that have resisted the passage of time and have preserved their natural splendour. There are over 140 protected areas in Morocco to preserve a remarkable 40 plus different ecosystems and thousands of species of animal and plant life.
Throughout this region visitors will be able to sample local produce. At Kasbah Angour guests can enjoy a changing seasonal selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat from animals that graze on the mountains pastures, the hotel’s own olive oil, walnuts and almonds from local mountains orchards and other Moroccan produce like argan oil and Moroccan wine.
The team at Kasbah Angour are all Moroccan Berbers whilst the owner is British Paul Foulsham who opened the hotel in 2011 and wanted to offer a traditional atmosphere coupled with modern luxuries.
The dinner menu changes daily and is reasonably priced with three course dinners priced 255 DH (around £20) whilst children under 12 have half price meals. The focus is on local recipes and home style cooking.
Moroccan wines are on the up and at Kasbah Angour Paul and his team have searched out some exceptional local wines. Morocco produces a surprising amount of wine. In 2010, in 1000 hectolitres, 333 were produced. That is more than say Israel and Mexico and close to Turkey’s 580. Wines at Kasbah Angour include: RED – Sahari Réserve (similar to a Spanish Rioja), Medaillon Cabernet (similar to a Bordeaux) and La Ferme Rouge (similar to a Burgandy). WHITES – include a Terroir Blanc (dryish and Kasbah Angour’s house white wine. GRIS – Sahari Gris and La Ferme Rouge Gris.
The low humidity in the Atlas Mountains makes this a wonderful destination throughout the year. There is no noise or light pollution at Kasbah Angour just glorious surroundings and peace.
Kasbah Angour is ideal for both short breaks and longer holidays and perfect for couples, groups and families but the hotel also offers single occupancy reductions of 15% on standard & superior room rates. At night, guests relax under the stars and enjoy their bedrooms, all with underfloor heating and air conditioning. There are no televisions, just serenity.
B&B is priced from £113 per room per night
Half-day walk prices range from 295 dirhams (around £24) per person for a group of two to
150 dirhams (around £12) per person for a group of six
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