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High Atlas Travel Guide

Ourika Valley

The Ourika Valley is the gateway to the High Atlas peaks, leading out of fuming Marrakesh into the fresh coolness of the mountains. It's a popular place to go for those in need of respite from the clamor and chaos of the city, but who don't want to travel far. Only 20 minutes outside of Marrakesh, you can see green gorges, sparkling yellow wheat fields at the foot of snowcapped mountains, and the ferocious flush of the

Ourika River, where women wash clothes in the spray of waterfalls at the roadside. At the very end of the valley is Setti Fatma, a great base for trekkers. From here, explore stacked Berber villages with flat roofs as red as the earth they’re built from. The only vertical line that breaks the slither of horizontal roofs is that of the village mosque, whose minaret towers above all. You can stay at a guesthouse (often advertised as having a farm or garden) and spend a day or two lounging amid the exotic flowers, dipping in and out of a pool, strolling through fields, and feasting on homemade Moroccan food.

You can take a grand taxi from Marrakesh (10 DH to Ourika, 20 DH to Setti Fatma); there are five daily buses (6 DH to Ourika).

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