Authentic Home Stay in Atlas Mountains

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Last Saturday I was home for my son’s graduation and my daughter’s birthday. We had lunch with family in the Tennessee hills and watched The Kentucky Derby, traditionally toasted with Mint Juleps.

This weekend I was back in Morocco where I had lunch with friends in the high Atlas Mountains and road mules to the Berber home where we were traditionally greeted with mint tea.

Last week I wished my dad could have seen his grandson graduate, and yesterday I wished he could have ridden with me in a land so rugged, so beautiful. Always interested in American Indian culture and nature, he would have appreciated the history of the Berbers, the indigenous people of the Atlas Mountains and Dades Valley—land like Colorado where he hunted and like Arizona where our favorite westerns were set. Seen from a saddle, the sweeping grandeur of Imlil made me feel like I was in a movie. No wonder. The village is where trekkers come to scale Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in Northern Africa. Seven Years in Tibet was partially filmed here.

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In Imlil, our host, Lahcen of Authentic Toubkal Lodge, met us with the muleteers at our car. He is a friend of Kate who had invited me to join her and her daughter, Amy, just arrived from Melbourne.

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Photo by Kate Woods
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Photo by Kate Woods

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Mules carrying concrete blocks for a new mosque

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I’d been in a few Berber villages—one where I entered a rug shop, another a girl’s school, and a couple I’d trekked through with two other hikers, but this was my first private home visit. Just as medina walls can hide secret gardens, village houses made of mud and concrete– seemingly hard and dark–can shelter cozy retreats.  Such was the case here. Up the stairs, past a formal salon, then  down a decorative hall a door led to a  paradise of pure light.  From the comfortable, colorful terrace we saw snow-peaked mountains and heard the mosque’s call to prayer.

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Lachen made Amy the guest of honor, giving her Berber attire and the charge of making tea.

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He explained the proper way to make Moroccan mint tea.
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Large bricks of sugar are a must.
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As is pouring the tea from the highest position possible.

 

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Photo by Kate Woods

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Full and happy, we rested before taking a tour of the house and the village.  The rooms’ design details and thoughtful touches–plush blankets, slippers, custom showers and tile — as well as the food, view, and hospitality have earned the home top ratings on Trip Advisor and Airbnb.  Though grateful, Lahcen says he doesn’t display awards to persuade customers.  Instead he preserves the authenticity of the home where he grew up and is confident “guests will come– inshallah.”  He adds that while “money comes and goes” what matters is offering people the best of nature and making them feel at home.

To book a lunch, tour, or home stay go here.

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Ready to continue our village tour, we received, as Kate said, “Rock Star parking” and curb service.

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Cindy McCain

A Southern Girl Gone Global, I believe God calls us to journeys to find our way home--to the person He created us to be. In 2014 I left my empty nest and flew away, too. I landed in Africa. After two years in magical Morocco and one in the Caribbean, I moved back to Nashville where I tell tales from 27 countries travelled, look forward to the next trip, teach, learn, and discover new treasures everyday in my backyard. This travel/lifestyle blog is about letting go of fear, clinging to faith, and following your heart's desires. It's a celebration of beauty, adventure, and relationship. It's about freedom found in roots and wings.

7 comments

  • What an interesting article. Your many photos make the journey come to life and make it easy for me to tell you “This is not for me”! But I am delighted that you seem to have thoroughly enjoyed the adventure! Thanks for a great posting!

  • I’ve been to the High Atlas Mountains but wasn’t lucky (?) enough to ride a mule up/down. It’s a beautiful area of Morocco and looks like you had perfect weather. I had to look closely at Lahcen because at first I thought he was the tour guide I had 5 years ago, but it wasn’t him…just the same name. (I think it might be common in Morocco!)

  • The Atlas mountains look stunning. How was the treatment of the horses and mules by the guides? I’d love to do such a trip with my daughter.

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