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Farewell Dar Ahlam, Hello High Atlas Mountains

March 16

Sadly, this is our last day at Dar Ahlam. After breakfast, we’re driven to an almond grove, where our guide, Fouad, takes us on a 45-minute walk that lasts for an hour and 45 minutes, winding through the shade of the trees and into what once was the old city, in which Berbers and Jews lived together.

We are invited in for tea and bread made that morning by a young woman and her cute 3-year old nephew.

We get to see the house, including the well and the kitchen.

Afterwards, we run into a fellow who talks about old times in the area and tells us that Jewish people who have moved to Tel Aviv still come back to visit.

The walk was lovely until near the end, when I hit a slight slope of mud and fell. Greater injury to my pride than myself, though I’m definitely going to need to launder my clothes before wearing them again. Fouad gets handsful of water from a stream to help wash me off.

Our travel agent, Ahdina Zunkel, raved about a shopping experience she’d had with a husband and wife team, so we get our driver to stop in Skoura and we visit Aziz and Manar, located in the Ait Moro Hand Association shop. Turns out that Manar was not his wife, but somebody working in the shop the day Ahdina visited, who was not around today. Oh, well, win some, lose some. Aziz shows us some carpets and other artifacts, but we escape unscathed.

We return to Dar Ahlam, where Mungo and Romily, hearing of my fall, offer to have my shoes cleaned and to provide ointment for my scraped knee. We’re ushered out to a luncheon table set for us in Olive Tree Alley.

This place has it all over, say, Days Inn. I know that the description must sound obnoxiously pampered. What can I say? It is. The entire place has an unstudied elegance, service is fabulous and the grounds are lovely.

We’re allowed to keep our room until 5PM, at which time we’re driven to the airport by Abdul for our 40-minute flight from Ouarzazate to Marrakech in the early evening. We are met at the Marrakech airport and driven 1 hour 20 minutes to the High Atlas Mountains by our driver, Moustaffa.

We arrive late at Kasbah Tamadot in the most indulgent and private of spaces, Sir Richard Branson’s retreat, with its spectacular backdrop of snow-lined peaks.

Kasbah Tamadot was the former home of Luciano Tempo, the renowned antiques dealer and interior designer. Luciano filled Kasbah Tamadot with a huge range of items – tables, sculptors and ornaments collected from India, Indonesia and North Africa. When Sir Richard Branson bought Kasbah Tamadot in 1998, he also inherited Luciano’s 1000 square meter warehouse, filled with pieces of Luciano’s collection that have been used to furnish the Kasbah today.

We checked in and went up for soup (Carol) and dessert (moi) in the restaurant. Both our room and the place look fabulous, but we’ll be able to judge better in the light, tomorrow. I wouldn’t base my entire assessment on this, but the fact that the contents of the minibar are complimentary is not a bad proxy.

1 comment to Farewell Dar Ahlam, Hello High Atlas Mountains

  • Barbara Sandler

    Pampered is perfect! If not now, den ven, ya! Gorgeous photos, beautiful scenery, deserving travelers…das ganza gestalt. Bravo!

    Waiting for your next adventure to unfold. Sorry for your fall, bro. But small boos-boos, go with the territory. Subtle signs of your swashbuckling panache!

    Best to Sir Richard! He no doubt recalls me from a phone invu I had with him, years ago for People. A super nice chap! Love from your sis

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