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The winding road: High Atlas mountains, Morocco
Why: The ragged, cloud-collecting spires are a call to all adventurers; the views over North Africa make you feel as if you're kissing the sky.
What to expect: The roads out of Marrakesh are pretty good, but the mountain passes feel a tad precarious. ("Guardrails? We laugh at guardrails!") Many travelers elect—wisely—to hire a driver who's knowledgeable about the area. (The Morocco specialists in Condé Nast Traveler's Travel Agent Finder should be able to help with arrangements.)
Start your engines: Morocco has a massive variety of topographies. For an incredible overview (which will take a good week), make the several-hundred-mile circle from the hazy medina of Marrakesh into the heart of the High Atlas, and then west to the Atlantic coast. On the way you'll pass (and stay in) ancient Berber villages where guests are treated to tasty tagines and copious amounts of "Berber whiskey" (tea). And when you cross the top of the stunning 6,890-foot Tizi-N-Test pass, you'll find yourself bridging the Atlantic to the west and the vast Sahara to the east.
Road secrets: Head to the town of Asni, in the foothills outside of Marrakesh, to make an on-foot ascent of North Africa's highest mountain, 13,665-foot Mount Toubkal. Hire a local guide, and reasonably fit amateur hikers will find the two-day trip fairly easy.
Shack up: You'll have just convinced yourself that the Atlas mountains are a pretty tough place when you hit the unexpected luxury of La Roseraie, at the bottom of the valley of Nfis. It has a world-class stable where visitors rent horses to explore the lower mountains and Berber villages—though you might choose to sit on a chaise lounge at the pool, surrounded by rose gardens, and brag about the time you conquered Mount Toubkal.
Tel: 212 24 43 91 28
Doubles from $219