Marrakesh: gateway to the stunning Atlas Mountains.

Marrakesh is an exotic destination in itself which has long attracted the less conventional celebrities. Past fans of this magical town include Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. However it’s also gateway to the stunning snow -capped Atlas Mountains.

Take the road south towards Tobkhal, at 4167 mts, the highest peak in North Africa, where the altitude guarantees good skiing from December to March. The lift at the resort of Oukaimeden will take you high in the sky and offers 12 miles of pistes. You can be buying exotic spices in the souk at Marrakesh one day and swishing down the ski runs the next.

If you’re not into skiing, the Toubkhal National Park provides some great hikes through Berber villages. Setti Fatma, set in the beautiful Ourika Valley is of particular interest.

Back down at sea level, the famous resort of Essaouira, where Jimi Hendrix was inspired to write Castles Made of sand, can now be reached in two hours from Marrakesh thanks to an improved road that opened this summer.

British Airways (www.ba.com) and Easy Jet (www.easyjet.com) fly to Marrakech from London Gatwick, and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) from Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh and London’s Luton and Stansted airports. Flight time is three hours.

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