The Atlas Mountains stretch for 1,600 miles across northwestern Africa through Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, separating the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert. The Middle Atlas Mountains, which are a short, scenic drive from Marrakech, are ideal for forests walks. Beginners will enjoy easy forays into the Atlas Mountains in summer, while winter presents a serious challenge even to experienced hikers. Serious mountain climbers head for its highest peak, Jebel Toubkal (14000 ft), while anyone who enjoys trekking will find countless trails thru picturesque Berber villages at lower altitudes. At the end of the day, relax in luxurious splendor in Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot nestled in the lower Atlas Mountains south of Marrakech or the simplicity of a chic guesthouse. Wherever you go, you will be astounded by the welcome from the people who live there, as children join you on your treks, and locals invite you in to share a cup of tea.

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Marcia Gordon