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The Tizi n'Tichka pass during a snowstorm in the Atlas Mountains
Photo by Andrew Harper

Indelible Memory: Crossing the Tizi n’Tichka Pass

By Andrew Harper

The Hideaway Report | May 28, 2018

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As we drove away from Kasbah Tamadot, the landscape changed from the Mediterranean terrain of the Asni valley to rocky semidesert. This environment soon turned into tortured layers of black basalt, glistening in the drizzle that appeared from nowhere. As we ascended into the High Atlas Mountains, the rain morphed into sleet and then snow.

The view from the Tizi n'Tichka pass during a snowstorm in the Atlas Mountains Photo by Andrew Harper

By the time we reached the 7,415-foot-high Tizi n’Tichka pass, we were in a full-blown blizzard. The serpentine road cut a calligraphic path through the jagged landscape that had become entirely black and white. Numerous cars stopped at the panoramic top of the pass to take photos; others stopped elsewhere, involuntarily, having run into trouble while driving in the slippery conditions. While it was January and I knew that this pass sometimes received snowfall, I found myself unprepared for the dislocating experience of a Moroccan snowstorm.

At one point on our descent, we saw snow collecting on palm trees and cacti. After we cleared the mountains, the desert reasserted itself, with canyons and mesas alleviating the monotony of the acacia-studded plain. It felt as if we’d traveled from Tuscany through Switzerland to Arizona in less than three hours.

As we drove away from Kasbah Tamadot, the landscape changed from the Mediterranean terrain of the Asni valley to rocky semidesert. This environment soon turned into tortured layers of black basalt, glistening in the drizzle that appeared from nowhere. As we ascended into the High Atlas Mountains, the rain morphed into sleet and then snow.

The view from the Tizi n'Tichka pass during a snowstorm in the Atlas Mountains Photo by Andrew Harper

By the time we reached the 7,415-foot-high Tizi n’Tichka pass, we were in a full-blown blizzard. The serpentine road cut a calligraphic path through the jagged landscape that had become entirely black and white. Numerous cars stopped at the panoramic top of the pass to take photos; others stopped elsewhere, involuntarily, having run into trouble while driving in the slippery conditions. While it was January and I knew that this pass sometimes received snowfall, I found myself unprepared for the dislocating experience of a Moroccan snowstorm.

At one point on our descent, we saw snow collecting on palm trees and cacti. After we cleared the mountains, the desert reasserted itself, with canyons and mesas alleviating the monotony of the acacia-studded plain. It felt as if we’d traveled from Tuscany through Switzerland to Arizona in less than three hours.

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This article appeared in The Hideaway Report, a monthly newsletters exclusively for members.

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Andrew Harper Photo Our editors write under the Andrew Harper byline so they can travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who they are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.

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