The remote and breathtaking Aït Bouguemez is second only to Jebel Toubkal in popularity among mountain-lovers, not only for its own unique beauty but also as a base for ascending Jebel M’Goun, one of Morocco’s highest summits. Sometimes referred to as the Vallée Heureuse or Happy Valley, this flat, fertile stretch is memorably picturesque, its patchwork of cultivated barley fields spread beneath soaring peaks. Mud-brick villages cling to the lower slopes, which are barren for the best part of the year bar spring, when they are carpeted in wild flowers.

A world away from the well-trodden routes around Jebel Toubkal, the valley has until recently existed in relative isolation – the road in here was only built at the turn of the millennium. This arduous way of life has fostered a remarkable community spirit among the valley’s villages and led to the creation of a considerable number of self-help initiatives (see Helping hands in the Happy Valley).

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