Displaying items by tag: atlas mountains day trip

Saturday, 15 February 2014 00:00

Kasbah Tamadot - lunch and more


Having booked lunch for our guests at Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot quite a few times while on a day trip to the Atlas Mountains with us, it had been a while since we wanted to try it ourselves. Especially since first time was 7 years ago and the chef (and management) had changed since. 
pool at kasbah tamadot

This time we went for something rather sober dish- wise: we started with ‘Crab and Mango Salad’ and ‘ Chicken with Almond Briouate’ for starters and sirloin steak/ mixed kebab for main course. We were enjoying the breath taking views ahead of us on this glorious afternoon in February while waiting for the dessert. My companion had just been discreetly apprehended by a waiter when trying to use the mobile phone . It was actually mentioned on the first page of the menu:

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‘In order to respect your fellow diners and to promote the dying art [sic] of conversation over lunch (and not with someone across the world), we would be grateful if you could kindly join us in the spirit of the Kasbah Tamadot and escape from the electronic world, leave your phone calls and relax until you have finished dining’. 

One can’t help but smile at the English sense of humor permeating that statement right there… tell you what, the truth is I do agree and that should be extended to every other restaurant in the world. But getting back to our lunch… perhaps it’s best to start from the beginning.

   6    main course at kanoun restaurant
One beautiful morning at the beginning of February ( aren’t they all in Marrakech ?.. ) we hopped into a 4x4, managed to escape the traffic mayhem of downtown Marrakech and made our way up to Tahnaoute and then Asni, past suspended adobe Berber villages and through canyons and lush valleys. February is arguably the best time of year to travel around the Atlas, although I’m sure quite a few of my peers will debate that. Snow on the peaks of the Atlas is at a maximum and surrounding valleys are all pink due to the almond flower season.  Now, trekking in the Atlas in February is a different story and snow certainly wouldn’t help – but that is only a problem over 2000 meters high.    
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terrace at kasbah tamadot's lounge    Asni is only 1150 meters high and famous for its Berber souk held every Saturday. Moulay Brahim, the village before it, holds a famous shrine , popular with visitors from the region coming to collect the baraka and used to be the favorite picnic place of Marrakchi families years ago. The unassuming road skirts through Asni, to Ouirgane , the 12th century mosque of Tinmel and then the pass of Tizi n Test at 2100 meters high, and on the other side Taroudant, to turn out to be one of the most scenic routes in Morocco. 
It is also one of the itineraries used to reach the remote dunes of Erg Chigaga by 4x4. But instead, we turn right just after Asni headed towards Imlil, the base for all the treks taking you to the highest peak in North Africa, Mount Toubkal at 4165 meters high. A few miles after the turn, an imposing building appears in the distance and one can just about make out an infinity pool past the cypresses. Parking next to it and seeing the stone lions guarding the entrance, makes it clear this is not your regular Berber house, although    hghj   

the architecture on the outside has been kept local. A different story awaits you inside: while you cross the gardens and come upon the entrance and into the reception, you realize many objects around you come from India and other parts of Asia.  

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We are shown around the property by the very hospitable guest relations manager and we start with the lounge, which has the appearance of an African lodge tent, complete with a bar, pool table and hanging terrace overlooking the dramatic valley. We then visit a Deluxe Room, an exercise in luxury and soft linen. The manager is proud to point out the glass bottles provided in the room contain water recycled locally at the Kasbah through their own patented system. Past the rose petals reflecting pool sidelined by small stone elephants, we step into the library and I guarantee you, one doesn’t need to necessarily be a literature fiend to spend quite a few hours here. Back to the main building and quite a few passage ways later, we find ourselves by the generous size indoors pool. Perhaps the most striking about the whole place is the ability to have incredible views, wherever you find yourself. Even here, at the lowest level of the house, the light coming through is more than inviting.    
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Past the spa and a patio, we now reach the terrace restaurant where most of the guests are having their lunch. In front of us, a breathtaking view of the  Mizane valley and the scattered Berber villages. On our right, in the distance, the over-3000 meters high snowcapped Atlas Mountains, a heaven for trekking outside the winter season. Outside temperature is about 25 Celsius and  many guests are wearing t shirts. And why wouldn't you ? A few fortunate ones are enjoying the heated infinity pool while we are passing through the gardens and past the tennis courts. We reach the Berber Tents, each with its own plunge pool. Perhaps the word ‘tent’ is the least appropriate to describe the opulence inside – if this is one, than I could live in a tent for the rest of my life.    tyuyt
kjhg    The generous private sun deck and its own Jacuzzi are there to complement the rest. If that is not enough for you, isolated from the rest of the property, you have a 112 square meter Master Suite complete with three bedrooms, a huge roof terrace and your own private pool.

The property has 3 superior rooms, 7 deluxe rooms, 4 superior suites, 3 deluxe suites , 1 deluxe suite with its own pool, 4 Berber tents, 4 luxury Berber tents and 1 Master Suite. 

All in all, 27 rooms, suites and tents.  Yet I can’t recall seeing any hotel with this many public spaces and gardens. The architect has managed to strike that balance where even with all rooms occupied, guests will never feel crammed. There is so much public space around the property that you are almost guaranteed to find an isolated spot at any time of day or night. And there is something for almost everyone to find here, from people in their 50’s and 60’s to couples  tgedr

coming for a romance or families with small children or teen agers.

Speaking of children, this must be THE place to stay during summer holidays, when scorching temperatures assault Marrakech, making it too hot to stay in. One hour drive from the city and its busy souks, snake charmers and ornate palaces, this is also an ideal base for walks in the surrounding Atlas Mountains or serious trekking, if that is what you aim for. Special food and beverages or simple snacks and light meals can be prepared for all children. Film projections are arranged during the pleasant summer nights in the gardens by the outdoors pool. Dedicated babysitting is available with advance notice given. And why not make a stay at Kasbah Tamadot part of a Morocco family holiday ?

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Peppermint, Parmasan, Peanut and Paprika, their four resident mules, are on hand to capture the children’s hearts.  That is, if Pickle and Pumpkin (the two camels) and Pudding, Plum and Peaches (the three donkeys) haven’t found them already!  

Children can ride the resident mules, venture off on a Moroccan treasure hunt, participate in nature walks, take to the bumps on a four-wheel drive excursion, go on a horse and cart ride, or simply partake in Moroccan tea party, learn how to make delicious local dishes and splash around in the indoor or outdoor infinity pools. Children are especially welcome in the summer ( 5 July to 31 August) when those under 11 years of age get to stay for free and those under 6 years of age also get to dine for free.

  rter   werw The lunch menu is no lonver avvailable on the internet but we can send it to you in a pdf attachment. Lunch at Kasbah Tamadot is available on our Atlas and the Lake and Atlas and 3 valleys day trips. Accommodation in the luscious Berber tents and suites at Kasbah Tamadot is part of the Divine level of our Caravans Dust tour and other bespoke tailor made tours of Morocco. For more details call us at +212 638 636 719 or send us an email here .  
Published in Morocco travel blog
Saturday, 15 June 2013 00:00

Atlas & the 3 Valleys

landscape atlas mountains2

Our day trip from Marrakech shows you the most diverse of landscapes while immersing you into the Berber culture.

Ourika Valley, visit of a Berber market, camel trek, Lalla Takerkoust lake, tea with a family are all highlights of this itinerary.


Starting off on the road to Ourika Valley and leaving Marrakech behind, the journey reaches Rhmat, to then skirt the river past Berber villages, while the snowy peaks of the High Atlas take shape in the background. Before taking on the Atlas Mountains, we recommend a break in the village of Tafza, to visit a typical Berber house overlooking the area. The house used to belong to a noble local familly and has been restored to its original state by its French actual owner. The traditions and customs of Berbers can be admired throughout the rooms and hallways where the different objects and furniture intertwine with ancient photos, some of them taken as early as 1900's. 

Back on the road, our excursion takes us towards Oukaimeden, one of the few ski resorts in Morocco. But just when you start wondering when was the last time you skied, we turn rightand dwell into back- roads. If so far we were crossing valleys and gorges, we are now immersed in complete wilderness. Slide down the car's window and reach out - you can almost reach the pine trees lining the road. We are not likely to encounter anyone here, except maybe the local forest guard waving his hand as we pass him by or the ladies of the village nearby doing the laundry in the river. Time to take out your cameras- there are quite a few photo opportunities along the way. Starting the descent towards Asni on the other side of the valley, you can admire Richard Branson's mesmerizing Kasbah Tamadot in the distance, tucked between the cliffs and the lush vegetation. Lunch at Kasbah Tamadot can be arranged on request. 

After the impressive landscapes, your appetite might call for some attention too. Lunch can be had either inside a traditional Berber house or just by the road in one of the impromptu snack- restaurants serving succulent, fresh tagines. Each village around the area has its own Berber market a certain day of the week, something to witness if you get the chance.  

After lunch our excursion takes us up onto Kik Plateau, crossing Moulay Brahim, a picturesque village famous for its shrine where women from the surrounding villages come looking for the baraka. The limestone plateau is set at 1800 meters altitude and offers spectacular 360 degrees views and, in the spring, a marvellous spread of alpine flowers. The contrast between the two mountain ranges is nothing short of amazing: a barren plateau with hardly any vegetation, the deserted landscape occasionally interrupted by scattered Berber hamlets. It is certainly worth stopping and having tea in a Berber house.

Starting the descent on the other side, you may be suprised by strange objects flying above you - paragliders shooting off from the cliffs above. We can stop for a moment if the light is right and capture the amazing landscape unfolding in front of our eyes. The vast panorama is only interrupted by Lalla Takerkoust lake, spreading out for miles. In the distance, on a clear day, you can see Marrakech as our day tour passes by the ruins of Kasbahs once property of the local Pasha. We will stop for a tea and a camel ride by the lake before returning to Marrakech. 

You are free to choose your time of departure. However, in order to make the best out of your Marrakech day trip, we recommend leaving no later than 9 AM. Forecasted return time in Marrakech is 5 PM.

PRICE.............................................................................................. 65 EUROS PER PERSON ( BASED ON 2 PERSONS SHARING THE VEHICLE). DISCOUNTS APPLY FOR 3 OR MORE PERSONS.

The rate includes: private ( sole use) of the modern air conditioned Toyota 4x4 and the English fluent driver- guide, entrance fees to all sites and monuments, refreshing drinks inside the vehicle, pick up and drop off from/ to the hotel/ Riad and transport insurance.

If you wish to walk / trek in the High Atlas for a few hours, we can include that with our other day trip, Atlas and the Lake

Published in Day-Trips