My daughter spots them first, glinting like diamonds within the noon warmth of the Moroccan solar, irresistible for small fingers to select at. “Treasure!” she exclaims, kneeling down to select clusters of tiny crystals out of the earth, a few of them clear, others in ochres, oranges and yellows. From gold and silver to cobalt, nickel and zinc, the Atlas mountains are a mineral paradise, in addition to an historic and profitable business.
Centuries in the past, explains our strolling information Abdelkarim, the unique silk route would have handed by way of these mountains en path to Timbuktu, transporting gold and silver from the world. Mining is large enterprise in Morocco, its functions starting from cobalt for cellphone batteries to quartz crystals in watches and zinc oxide in agriculture.
Morocco map.
Wealthy with ravines and canyons, waterfalls and wild flowers, the Atlas mountains stretch 2,500km, spanning Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and separating the Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines from the Sahara desert.
At present, the primary jewel on this a part of Morocco is Marrakech, attracting ever bigger numbers to the markets and souks, or for journeys into the Sahara desert for promised peace and tranquillity below the celebs. However it’s troublesome to see why these mountains – distant, huge, empty, but solely 40 minutes away from the chaos and crowds of Marrakech – will not be the star attraction. You may be within the Himalayas, however you’re only a three-hour flight from London.
Throughout our three-hour hike all we are able to see from each vantage level are countless craggy peaks dotted with fairly Berber villages carved out of the dusty panorama. To get right here, we cease at one village, perched throughout the valley from the place we’re staying. Within the sq., a gaggle of youngsters begin to observe us and Abdelkarim stops, pulls out some pens and train books from his bag and palms them out. College sources are stretched right here, he explains, however schooling is very prized. He factors to a big new constructing in the course of the village, the college home the place pupils are taught in Arabic and Berber.

Mountaineering within the Atlas mountains
Up right here within the hills, we meet nobody. It’s simply us – my husband and two daughters – the epic silence of the panorama, and the odd mule, recognized domestically because the 4×4 of the mountains, tethered to a tree.
Again at Kasbah Angour, the place we’re staying, it’s so snug and fairly, it will be simple to succumb to languor, by no means venturing past the resort’s swimming pool. The plush manicured lawns, terracotta pots and rows of Cyprus bushes lend the place a Tuscan really feel, but the scorched crimson and pink rocky panorama couldn’t be wherever else however north Africa. However discover we should. British proprietor Paul Foulsham encourages his company to immerse themselves within the space and respect the native Berber tradition.

Wraparound views … Kasbah Angour’s gardens and pool
Again within the early 1990s, Foulsham labored as a monetary analyst for varied oil firms however when he got here to Morocco, to mine baryte for the oil business, he determined to remain put. He discovered the positioning inside two weeks, and set about constructing the 23-room Berber-style fort from scratch with the assistance of native architects. The venture has been a labour of affection.
Each element has been crafted from domestically sourced supplies, from the standard tiled flooring to the carved shutters, Berber rugs, ornate mirrors and handmade furnishings within the restaurant. The general really feel is opulent however genuine, too. Our two-bedroom suite is extraordinarily spacious with a snug sitting room, and kitchen space good for mixing a G&T to drink out on the terrace, with but extra wraparound views. Each night we sit and play playing cards and watch the solar dip beneath the mountains earlier than we head for the resort restaurant beneath us.
The actual pleasure of Angour is exploring its gardens, that are massive and sprawling, stuffed with formal rose beds and wild flowers, and fringed with fir, olive, fig and pomegranate bushes. Many of the contemporary fruit and greens grown listed below are utilized by the cooks in Angour’s kitchens to create conventional Moroccan meals, from tagines with preserved lemons to stuffed peppers, and easily ready contemporary artichokes.

Kasbah Angour
We rapidly fall right into a morning routine, whiling the early hours away by the pool and having fun with but extra 360-degree views of the mountains from the vantage level of a solar lounger.
Every morning, over breakfast of contemporary bread, honey, olives and figs, Foulsham chats to the company about their plans for the day – typically excursions on supply by way of the resort. There are camel rides, 4×4 off-roading journeys or guided treks up Mount Toubkal – 4,167m-high, with views of the Sahara over the opposite aspect. We go for a day in Marrakech, which is definitely accessible by native cab, and discover ourselves becoming a member of a protracted queue of (primarily French) vacationers outdoors the Yves Saint Laurent Museum.
Inside, it’s darkish and mirrored, a superbly designed area that’s effectively well worth the wait. The unique YSL tuxedo takes pleasure of place.
A couple of minutes away is the Jardin Majorelle, the backyard that Saint Laurent and his accomplice Pierre Bergé purchased to protect the work of its unique proprietor, the French panorama painter Jacques Majorelle. We change right into a surreal desert panorama with towering cacti, decorative ponds, and each floor painted an iridescent Yves Klein blue.

True blue … Yves Saint Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle. {Photograph}: Getty Pictures
No day journey to Marrakech is full with out lunch on a rooftop terrace, so we head for Café Arabe, with a contemporary Med menu, curvaceous cream sofas and views throughout the medina rooftops. Better of all are effective water jets above every desk that launch a misty vapour that makes town’s 40C warmth virtually bearable. The lunch is ideal: the vegetable couscous is buttery and meltingly tender, and the Casablanca beer superbly icy.
A lightning glimpse of Djemaa el-Fna, the primary sq. in Marrakech, is simply lengthy sufficient to see the crowds arriving and the snake charmers organising. I vow to return again to Marrakech for an extended keep however for now we are able to’t wait to scuttle again to our ready cab and the oasis of Kasbah Angour.
Solution to go
Flights from London to Marrakech value from £99 return with Air Arabia Maroc. Doubles at Kasbah Angour from £108 B&B. Half-day guided walks value from £25pp
In search of a vacation with a distinction? Browse Guardian Holidays to see a variety of incredible journeys