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morocco

Majestic Morocco

06.03.20

JANE SLADE discovers a hilltop oasis 30 minutes from Marrakech offering a walk on the wild side

Winston Churchill once said that Marrakech was the nicest place on earth to spend an afternoon.

In the 1930s when he first discovered Morocco on a painting holiday the road out of Marrakech into the hinterland did not exist. Neither did Kasbah Angour, a stunning Berber castle, that stands 1,000m high surveying the snowy peaks of the Atlas mountains.

The boutique hotel which opened in 2011 oozes Moroccan charm inside and out. The terrace is peppered with wrought iron tables decorated in colourful mosaic tiles from Fez, and the woven fabrics, bedspreads and rugs in the rooms come from the local Berber villages, which punctuate the surrounding rolling hillsides.

Kasbah Angour’s sandstone façade glows at sunset, a secret jewel that looks as though it has been there for centuries. The moment my husband and I arrive in the airy lobby we are greeted with warm, friendly smiles. I immediately know ‘this is going to be my kind of place’.

Our spacious, simply-decorated, suite had breath-taking views of lush lawns, an outdoor swimming pool and those beguiling mountains in the distance.

My husband and I were on a training mission. We had booked a trek to Everest Base camp a few months after our visit and thought this would be an ideal opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with our walking boots and explore a different mountainous landscape.

Jbel Toubkal (4,167 m) is the highest mountain in North Africa – about half the height of Everest and some thousand metres lower than base camp. Kasbah Angour is an ideal starting point to make the two-day climb. The hotel can organise experienced mountain guides and overnight stay in a mountain refuge. Additionally, there are a range of walks, no matter what your fitness or age, from gentle half-day ambles to full-day testing hikes.

We opted for a moderate wander through olive groves, eucalyptus and pine woods and passed through traditional Berber villages.

Other excursions the hotel offers include visits to a local souk, the village of Imlil (with mule trek and picnic); four-by-four adventures in the mountains; camel rides, and trips to the big city of Marrakech.

Winter, spring and autumn are the best times to visit if you are seeking a dry heat with a gentle breeze. And for winter sports enthusiasts there is a double-peak mountain nearby with a ski area.

If you want to stay local, the Kasbah has plenty to offer, there’s a table-tennis table, areas for practising yoga including a spacious roof terrace, a hammam and massage room.

The food is delicious too. We dined in the small cosy bistro; there is a larger dining room for when the hotel is busy. You can expect, tasty tagines mixed with seasonal vegetables picked from the garden and lamb that comes from sheep which have grazed on wild herbs in the surrounding fields. Even the water comes from two wells in the grounds.

The Kasbah is in a remote, unspoilt spot. There are no restaurants or shops or light pollution – or pollution of any kind come to think of it. Some drop in for some star gazing – or to recover from a few days in Marrakesh’s medina.

Kasbah Angour is for those seeking a peaceful sanctuary and a good walk and families looking to engage with nature and local Berber culture. As for my husband and I we are looking forward to return to tackle Toubkal – it should be a doddle now we have completed our trek to Everest Base Camp.

www.kasbahangour.com

B&B is priced from £108 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

Various carriers operate direct flights to Marrakesh from various UK airports including EasyJet, British Airways, and Ryanair

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