Mimosa and jacaranda gave way to walnut, apple and cherry orchards as we climbed.
Kasbah Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains can only be reached on foot or by mule. I chose a mule, and friendly Berbers guided me along a river valley where women washed clothes and gathered firewood. We stopped for mint tea in a village house, admiring brightly coloured carpets hung from walls above the narrow alleys.
The Kasbah is perched high like a fortress, surrounded by snow covered mountains, a gentian blue sky and a view to a distant waterfall. With warm sun and a cool breeze on my face, I devoured tagine of lamb and the sweetest ever oranges. I envied those staying, with their wood burning stoves and deckchairs.
I had discovered Shangri-La – not surprisingly, Toubkal has stood in for Tibet. I wanted right then to do the long trek to the top of Toubkal – at 4167 meters the highest mountain in North Africa. But it was Christmas Eve and time to return home.
Day trips can be arranged to the Kasbah with a pick up from your hotel in Marrakesh.
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