Tinmel Mosque and the High Atlas

(10 Hours)


Overview

Shepherd on the Kik plateau

This is a wonderfully varied day trip including inspiring mountain scenery, lakes and a visit to a mosque (that is akin to a scaled down version of the Mezquita in Cordoba) in the High Atlas. It’s a full day, so it’s best to depart at 8am returning to Marrakech around 6pm or perhaps later if you wish to walk or go horse riding.

The first part of the trip is a 40 minute drive to Lake Takerhoust.  The area around the lake is quite arid, but the setting quite stunning especially from November to April when the surrounding peaks are covered in snow.  Ascending steeply from the lake to the Kik plateau at 1800 meters, you could be forgiven in thinking you have been transported to the Alps, it’s alpine air invigorating the senses. But you never quite forget you are in Morocco – the area is dotted with kasbahs in various states of decay, whilst several Berber villages with their adobe buildings line the route.  The scenery is quite stark and the views on a clear day breathtaking.  After descending from the Kik Plateau you arrive in Moulay Brahim, a small village with one of the most important zawiyas (religious schools) in the region of Marrakech. Soon after you reach Asni, a lively village with a bustling market on Saturday.

The drive to Tinmel follows the route that intrepid travellers, opting for a quiet back route, take on the way to the Sahara. The scenery is bucolic, a stunning valley lined with traditional villages, verdantly green fields, stone walls and shepherds with their flocks. At about 1800 meters you arrive at Tinmel, built in 1156 to commemorate the founder of the Almohad dynasty. Recently restored, it’s exterior and interior walls showcase the high skills of Moroccan craftsmanship. The interior bears a similarity to the Mezquita in Cordoba. There is also a medieval fortress nearby. Tinmel is one of only 2 mosques that non-Muslims in Morocco can visit (the other being Hassan II mosque in Casablanca). Lunch can be taken at a nearby small hotel in a delightful mountain setting.

The restored 12th century Tinmel Mosque

Ouirgane lake

The route back is via Ouirgane, a tranquil town. In Ouirgane there are opportunities to walk or go horse riding from a guest house called La Roseraie (this would need to be pre-booked).

It’s a delightful trip, off the beaten track. You will encounter few other tourists.

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