Stretching throughout northern Africa, the Middle & High Atlas Mountains divide Morocco into two distinctly different terrains, separating the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts from the vast Sahara. Magnificent ancient Kasbahs dot the slopes of the range and many Berber communities still inhabit the hills. A network of natural streams and man-made lakes provide irrigation for the verdant elevated pastures where Berber farmers tend to sheep, goats and other livestock. Local women utilize an age old practice of harvesting and crushing nuts to produce the popular Argan oil used in cooking and medicinally.

Twisting mountain roads make their way through towering canyon walls and groves of palm and date trees. Wind your way around the tallest peak in North Africa, the Jebel Toubkal, at over 13,600 feet high. Take in the crisp air as you trek through the forests of oak and cedar. Snow-capped mountains and waterfalls showcase nature’s beauty.

Restaurants, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, line bubbling rivers. Perch yourself on vibrant seating and dip your toes into the cooling waters as you enjoy fresh tagines, cous cous, and mint tea.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou is a stunning site of earthen buildings surrounded by high walls. Towers pierce the bright sky in this 17th century town with a mosque, public square, and a caravanserai. This fortress on the ancient Salt Road was once used by traders carrying gold, ivory, and salt across Africa. Today it has set the scene for many films, including Lawrence of Arabia, Indiana Jones, Gladiator, and Game of Thrones.

Ouarzazate is another fascinating town surrounded by green farming plots of alfalfa and wheat which stand in stark contrast to the dry hills beyond. Orchards of dates, almonds, apricots, and cherries bring a further burst of color. The Middle & High Atlas Mountains are a region of Morocco that feels remote, away from the hustle and bustle of the large cities.