As far as bucket list destinations are concerned, Morocco never quite made mine. With visions of bustling souks, dusty towns and crowded markets, there was something quite overwhelming about it. But when I was invited on a press trip a couple of weeks ago to stay in Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot hotel for a long weekend, it was the promise of mountain views, a luxury Berber tent and canopied vistas that swayed me.
If there’s one thing I do love about travelling it’s experiencing completely different cultures and Morocco didn’t disappoint as far as that was concerned. Driving an hour from the airport to the hotel in our blacked-out SUV’s through dusty towns and impoverished villages, I couldn’t help but stare and wonder about this strange yet beautiful land. Shepherds herded their goats and donkey’s through barren sands as the sky turned orange, pink and purple and we headed above sea level.
I was so surprised to see how lush and green it was in the Atlas Mountains. Children played, swam and jumped off the rocks into the river, laughing all the way as their mother’s washed clothes and basked in the sun’s 40 degree heat. Slowly cars disappeared, giving way to mules and camels as I braced myself for mistreated animals and donkeys worthy of those awful adverts you see on TV. But over the course of two days I didn’t see a single one. They were happy, well looked after and, well, working. While I didn’t like seeing them carry concrete on their back, I was pleasantly surprised to see them in a decent condition.
Over the course of the two days we were guests of the beautiful Kasbah Tamadot hotel. A little oasis behind big wooden gates that welcomed us with open arms and it wasn’t long before I totally fell in love with Morocco. The pink stone, swinging palm trees and faint hint of jasmine in the air delivered everything I hoped for on a balmy Friday night. The grounds were immaculate – housing a large vegetable garden (used for the menu), a mini animal sanctuary complete with mules (you’ll come to love those 6am wake-up calls!), goats, chickens, turkeys, donkeys and camels. Yes. Camels.
The tents were beyond beautiful, with a large siting room/bedroom, bathroom, dressing room and huge terrace complete with private jacuzzi. They’re furnished with decadent accents such as emerald green sofas, luxurious drapes, dreamy tiled floors and skin-soft linens. With incredible mountain views, you can go to sleep listening to the prayer calls ring out over the valley and wake up to the subtle bells on the donkeys below ferrying early morning crops to market.
The next two days were a blue of lazy afternoons by the pool, evenings chatting wine and local life with the waiters (the hotel is home to some of the kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting) and a fun cooking lesson in the main kitchen. We were lucky (and terrified) enough to venture out on a mule ride through the mountains and to a nearby village – it’s a great way to totally immerse yourself in the culture but was definitely grateful for our personal guides to navigate those rocky terrains! Other notable tips include – bug repellant for the flies (they bite hard!), long sleeves for the evenings as the temperature drops and lots of breathable fabrics for that daytime heat. Although it’s dry making it much more bearable, that sun still bears down pretty hot without shade nearby.
All in all, a beautiful few days spent watching the birds soar, the sky turn every colour imaginable in a single hour and my senses provoked with an array of spices, flowers and tagines. Morocco, you’ve stolen my heart.
SHOP THE POST