Atlas and the 3 Valleys

(8 Hours)


Typical Berber village in the Ourika valley

The area to the south of Marrakech, in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, has some extraordinarily diverse scenery. This can be visited on a day trip to the 3 valleys.  The trip also provides an insight into rural Moroccan life. Departing at about 8.30am it’s a full day trip, returning to Marrakech around 6pm.

Departing from Marrakech, you travel south towards the Ourika Valley through rich agricultural land, full of olive trees and orchards. The Ourika Valley is a popular tourist route and there are many artisans selling all sorts of Moroccan wares, including rugs, furniture, jewellery and a variety of knickknacks! 15km before the end of the valley you bear off towards Oukaimden, Marrakech´s skiing centre. This is where the real adventure begins as one snakes up through delightful mountain scenery, well away from other tourists.  Before reaching Oukaimden (when open for skiing, this is an amazing trip. Skiing aficionado’s will think they have stepped back in time 100 years) one climbs into the next valley, a tranquil wilderness of pine trees and crystal clear rivers, set against the snow covered mountains.

There are occasional villages and several traditional Berber establishments where one can indulge in sipping a mint tea with the locals.  After about 1h45 of driving from Marrakech, one slowly descends until arriving at Richard Branson´s Kasbah Tamadot, his luxury retreat. Lunch can be arranged on request, or you can have something simpler and traditional at one of the local Berber restaurants. The fare is always Moroccan, always fresh and tasty.

Snowy mountains above Oukaimden

The village of Moulay Brahim

Passing through the bustling town of Asni one starts the ascent to the Kik Plateau, passing through Moulay Brahim, a small village with one of the most important zawiyas (religious schools) in the region of Marrakech. Ascending steeply, you arrive at Kik plateau at 1800 meters and you could be forgiven in thinking you have been transported to the Alps with its alpine air invigorating the senses. But you never quite forget you are in Morocco – the area is dotted with kasbahs in various states of repair, whilst several Berber villages with their adobe buildings line the route.  The scenery is quite stark and the views on a clear day of the snow-covered peaks of the Atlas Mountains are breathtaking.

You will also see the stunning Lalla Takerhoust lake in the background, your final destination before returning to Marrakech. The lake is vast and dominates the vista.  Stopping at one of the cafes around the lake, it’s time to reflect on a trip that offers an experience that is the complete antithesis to one’s experience in Marrakech.

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Stunning Lalla Takerhoust