Sunday, August 17, 2014

Escaping the Heat ~ and the Crowds

With thousands of Moroccans crowding the beaches and the seaside towns such as Essaouira or up in the hills in Ifrane or Chefchaouen (see story here), The View from Fez went searching for the perfect combination of cooler weather and tranquility. We found the answer just over 80 Kilometres from Fez, at Auberge Ain Sahla

With twenty rooms and both indoor and outdoor dining areas, Ain Sahla is the perfect base for exploring the Jebel Tazzeka National Park. The architecture appears to be the offspring of a wonderfully whimsical marriage between Hobbits and Gaudi. There are numerous terraces with spectacular views as well as a perfectly maintained pool and (surprisingly) a small walled soccer field complete with goal nets!

Set beside the National Park, the area abounds with interesting flora and fauna, including the largest black bumblebees we have come across. For those with good eyesight there are also chameleons and a variety of lizards.

A large black bumblebee feasting on lantana flowers
A well disguised chameleon

The generous breakfasts and evening meals are all prepared onsite from local ingredients. The cooking is done on charcoal and wood fired grills and Berber ovens. In addition, the gardens are full of fruit trees with pomegranates, figs, citrus and grapes. With the wonderful Berber hospitality, guests are free to sample fruit straight from the trees.

All the cooking uses traditional methods and utensils


The Tazekka National Park is only a few minutes drive from the auberge and offers spectacular scenery and a variety of walks and cave experiences.

Amongst the main attractions of the National Park are the Friouato caves (Arabic: مغارة فريواطو‎), better known by their French name Gouffre de Friouato.

The farthest explored point in the cave system is about 272 meters, but its real limits are still mysterious. However, some locals believe that it is about 3.5 kilometres in length. Be aware that climbing down and then up again does require a certain stamina. (See our story here.)

At the end of a day of exploration, returning to the auberge for a cool drink, a swim and some fine food, is the perfect conclusion.

Photographs: Suzanna Clarke & Sandy McCutcheon

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