In Marrakech, you can see the Atlas Mountains hovering in the distance.  I have always heard how beautiful the mountains were and my interest was piqued.  So we tore the kids away from the hotel pool and hired a guide to drive us into the Atlas Mountains.  He took us to the closest villages near Marrakech which were in the Ourika Valley and a world away from the cosmopolitan buzz of the city.

Atlas mountains

Atlas mountains

Life in these villages appeared pretty traditional and the outside world seemed far away.  There were people carrying their wares on donkeys, little children just hanging around and houses clinging to the cliffs onto which they are built.  On the less quaint side, you did get the hard sell from trinket sellers and children begging for money.

berber child

We were invited into a Berber home for tea.  I expect this home makes a pretty good living out of inviting tourists into their house.

berber family cooking

The house is built into the hillside and there are lots of little internal stairs. It was built on 3/4 levels and also a terrace from which there were amazing views.

internal steps

I liked the colourful baskets which hung on the walls.

Old tagines stacked in the corner give evidence of feasts past.

old tanginess

This one-person hamam (steam bath) would be useful for those cold nights.  You lit the fire outside and then took a bucket of water into the little hut and waited for the steam to build.  Very efficient.



Our snack was made in the home’s kitchen. It was bread with delicious butter and honey on the side for spreads.

berber snack

The butter was made in the home from milk made by the family’s cow who also had his little room right after the house entrance but before you entered the family living area.


Piles of wood are stocked up for the wood-burning fires.  The walls hold the bellows to keep the fires burning.  Both the heating and the cooking used wood-burning stoves.

I’m glad we got to see this different, quieter side of Morocco.  It felt a world away from the hustle and bustle of the streets and souks of Marrakech.