Reaching an altitude of 2260 meters above the sea level, Tizi n’Tichka – part of the Moroccan National Route, N9 – is the highest major mountain pass of North Africa. Developed by the French Military, a fact noted in a large plaque, the Tizi n’Tichka route functions as the main direct linking Marrakech with Ouarzazate and exists as a spectacular piece of engineering.
The Tizi n’Tichka runs straight from Marrakesh across the Haouz Plain, before curving through the forest slopes above the Oued Ghdat valley and twisting past small villages and fields as it heads to Taddert, the last significant village on the north side of the pass.
Once the N9 national route of Tizi n’Tichka hits the the road offers stunning views at every turn: the Berbers call the Atlas range idraren draren, “The Mountains of Mountains”, and it is easy to see why. In the winter months, from November to March, snow can often fall on the pass, but it is warm all year round thanks to the strong Moroccan sun.
Ultimately, unless you are a Top Gear Presenter or a huge car enthusiast the Tizi n’Tichka route is perhaps not a destination in itself. However, if you are travelling between Marrakech and the Ouarzazate, or if you are stopping off at Telouet, Igherm, Aït Benhaddou, Agadir, the Kasbah Telouet or anywhere in between, you will undoubtedly use this route. All in all, the Tizi n’Tichka makes the long journeys across Morocco even more enjoyable!
Our luxury Riads act as the perfect base to explore the Marrakech medina, the Atlas Mountains and beyond; our experienced staff are on hand to organise any trips or excursions you wish to take.
The high Atlas village of Imlil is the gateway to the magnificent Jbel Toubkal, the highest peak and crowning wonder of the Atlas range and the tallest mountain in North Africa. The scenery is truly stunning and, at just over an hours drive from the Marrakech, it is remarkably accessible, making it the perfect day trip during your stay in the red city.
From here you will drive from the Medina towards the Atlas Mountains. The Berbers call the Atlas range idraren draren, “The Mountains of Mountains”, and it is easy to see why. As you leave Marrakech, the omnipotent Atlas Mountains stand tall as an unmoving monument, dominating the skyline, stretching as far as the eye can see.
En route to Imlil, it is possible to stop off at Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson’s luxury retreat, and a traditional Berber village. Both stops offer stunning views of Imlil and the surrounding landscape and are highly recommended. Your driver can normally help you organise both of these visits, please let him and our riad staff know in advance if you are interested in visiting either Kasbah Tamadot, or the Berber village during your trip to Imlil.
Once you have arrived at the village of Imlil, your driver will assist you in securing a local Berber guide to lead the excursion. The local guides are there to guide you on your trek and answer any questions you may have about the local area. The hike itself can be altered to suit most levels of experience and athletic ability, allowing you to take in the natural landscape at your chosen pace.
The varied landscape itself is marked by a prevailing silence and an overwhelming stillness; two luxuries rarely found in the vibrant medina of Marrakech. As you can see in the video below, the landscape is varied, unique and always beautiful; all in all, a definite ‘must see’ for those visiting Morocco.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/P9hfCA_4UT4″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Our luxury Riads act as the perfect base to explore the Marrakech medina, the Atlas Mountains (including Imlil) and beyond; our experienced staff are on hand to organise any trips or excursions you wish to take.
During an excursion to the village of Imlil in the Atlas Mountains, our driver suggested a stop off at Kasbah Tamadot. Kasbah Tamadot is Sir Richard Branson’s Moroccan retreat, based high in the Atlas Mountains boasting magnificent views, amazing architecture, beautiful gardens and an incredible showcase of Moroccan inspired interior design.
A night’s stay in the hotel’s cheapest room, the ‘Superior Room’, starts at 5975 Moroccan Dirham (about £430), way out of most people’s budget. However, the kind hosts at Kasbah Tamadot are happy to show you around their luxury residence. Initially, it feels strange to take a tour around a working hotel, but soon you realise that Tamadot is well worth a short visit en route to the mountains.
Although we wouldn’t suggest a trip up into the Atlas Mountains to take a tour around Kasbah Tamadot, here at Marrakech Raid, we highly recommend a trip to the Atlas Mountains for their spectacular views and unprecedented insight into rural Berber life. Indeed, we highly recommend that during your trip to Imlil, you suggest a stop at this luxury hotel to take in the views and a few interior design ideas for the scrapbook.
Our luxury Riads offer a similar level of luxury, albeit at a more affordable price and in a more central location, in the heart of the Marrakech Medina. Furthermore, just like Tamadot we also offer a personalized service in traditional settings, so why not book a stay at one of our luxury riad’s today.
Nestled away in the middle Atlas Mountains, only a 45 minute drive from Marrakech lies the enchanting Ourika Valley.
When you think of skiing, perhaps Morocco isn’t one of the first countries that springs to mind. However as the snow builds in the winter months, Ski resorts higher up the peaks of the Atlas Mountains come alive as tourists flock to challenge themselves on the runs.
Yet it’s during summer months that the Ourika valley reveals its brightest colours. As the winter ice begins to thaw, the waterfalls of Ourika spring to life and become remarkable sites of natural wonder.
After arriving just a few days before in Marrakech, resident video blogger Jamie Horton and I quickly learnt that tourists and Marrakshi locals alike were flocking to the falls to bask in the beauty of the valley and of course to seek some respite from the intense Moroccan sun. So we left the red city to learn more.
The first stop on the excursion is the village of Setti Fatma. It lies in a picturesque location along the banks of the River Ourika and you will find restaurant’s and cafe’s scattered across the river banks. On your hike back down after visiting the waterfall this is the perfect spot to enjoy a light lunch. Many of the dinner tables are placed in shallow water, making for a wonderfully atmospheric meal that will leave you with cool toes!
As we begin our ascent, following the trails that lead up to the waterfalls we pass through a patchwork of souvenir shops and cafe restaurants. Nestled in the leafy greens of the mountains, we are interested to see that locals channel the icy waters of the waterfall using aqueducts to keep the cafe refreshments cool from the Moroccan sun.
After a short upwards hike, Jamie and I have reached the Setti Fatma waterfalls. Over bottles of Fanta lemon we look back down upon the way we have came and the views of the flatland surrounding the Atlas are truly spectacular.
The owner of the cafe next to the Setti Fatma waterfall introduces himself as Tarik and he informs me as the temperature in nearby Marrakech starts to build over the summer months, more and more Marrakshi locals seek respite in the cascades. Both Jamie and I are native to the country famed for it’s rain and bad weather and the slow realisation creeps over us that if local Moroccans can handle the 20 degree drop in temperature by holding themselves under the icy cascades of Setti Fatma, then so must we.
Both Jamie and I tried to maintain outwardly appearances of masculinity. I’d like to think we held that facade for at least a little while.
A journey to the Ourika valley is perfect for a one day excursion for those staying in Marrakech. The 45 minutes by car that it takes to reach the valley are spent on roads that wind around the stunning landscape of the Atlas mountains so the journey there is breathtaking in itself. Excursions can be booked hassle-free through our luxury Riad hotels, all of which are perfectly located in the heart of the Marrakech Medina.
Established 3 years ago, the photography museum set its aims to founding a cataloged archive of Moroccan history in which the memories of these times gone past could be brought back to life for the general public.
Exhibiting a comprehensive selection of 5000 original original photographs covering from the 1870’s up to the 1950’s, the Maison de la Photographie provides a unique and fascinating field of insight into the lives of those who inhabited Morocco during this time.
Once you’ve enjoyed the remarkable collections the museum has to offer, you can round off your afternoon by enjoying a pot of traditional Moroccan mint tea on top of the roof terrace pictured below. As well as showcasing astounding sights inside the museum, the Maison de la Photographie also has a higher roof terrace than most Riad’s in the surrounding area which offers astonishing views of Marrakech Medina and the Atlas Mountains.
Entrance to the Maison de la Photographie only costs 40 Dirhams (£3.10) and remember to keep your ticket! As you can return as many times as you like to enjoy the museum and its stunning views as long you as hold onto it during your stay in Marrakech.
Just an hour and half by 50cc scooter with two people, or 45 minutes by car you can visit a manmade lake of tranquility and beauty steeped on one side by sloping banks intertwined with a small forest and on the other a plateau of barren but charming land. This is lake Lalla Takerkoust, which is a large reservoir supplying the local towns with pure but a little cold, mountainous water. Surrounded by the beautifully snow capped High Atlas Mountains, this is a place you can visit easily from your base in the Marrakshi Medina.
A little muddy in parts near to the water, but only in parts, this lake makes a perfect retreat for a morning stroll or sunny afternoon picnic where your company will be the occasional group of local children playing, or goat herders feeding their flocks on the grassy sides.
A little off the beaten track, but only adding to its secrecy and serenity, this is a surreal area, just beyond the village of Lalla Takerkoust, which is worth a visit for those wanting to escape the vibrant bustle of La Medina.
Leisurely exploring the area surrounding the lake, we came across a small village named Makhefamane which homes a dusty local highstreet with a few general grocery shops, crumbling mud and clay built houses, and some very happy, friendly and accommodating people.
Being invited into peoples homes seems like a national symbol of Marrakech and Makhefamane is no exception. Adballa approaches us mid cigarette as we look over the small football pitch that sits at the end of the village, and in some broken French and finger pointing we visit his home and wonderful family. They treat us to a Moroccan continental lunch of bread, olive oil, jam, butter and sugary tea while his wife feeds her 2 week old baby and his 6 year old daughter jumps around excited to practice the English that she has just learned in school that morning.
At the end of the village is Jnane Tihihit, an eco centre which houses a small diverse farm of seasonal agriculture and amazing array of animals, including some out of place pigs. We take a tour of the Belgian run site and come out feeling placid and inspired.
An example of why Morocco is such a diverse and culturally interesting place, and Marrakech, situated between the pictorially award winning and breathtaking Atlas Mountains, this country makes you see life in beautiful ways, and brings reality to a sense of what it actually is.
With breakfast looking out over Marrakchi rooftops and Atlas contours as your backdrop, Riad Cinnamon offers this plus a team passionately dedicated staff committed to making your stay in Marrakech one to remain with you forever.