Most tourists to Morocco will only visit the overcrowded and chaotic major tourist hubs of Marrakech, Fez and Rabat and only a small percentage of them venture beyond the Atlas Mountains to experience rural areas. Traveling south of the Atlas Mountains lets you experience the real, authentic Morocco where life is slower, undisturbed, the air is clean and bright, and the mountain or desert sky is truly unforgettable.
If you travel from Marrakech toward Ouzarzate, Zagora and the sand dunes of Merzouga you will be pleasantly surprised. Crossing the Atlas Mountains from Marrakesh is an enjoyable ride through red-colored rolling mountains rich in iron and dotted with small green trees overlooked by majestic snow-capped peaks. There will be many lookout points where you can stop for pictures taking or shopping for raw mountain crystals from local vendors waiting for interested tourists. You will drive through some Berber villages where you can stop for refreshments and visit an Argan oil cooperative where you will get explanations and free demonstrations on how the famous Moroccan anti-aging oil is produced from the kernels of the now endangered Argan tree. The rare oil is rich in vitamin E, phenols and unsaturated fatty acids and is used as a base for many cosmetic products including creams and lotions for psoriasis and eczema, as well as for cooking. The products are indeed very effective but pricy since at the cooperative store the prices are fixed and due to the endangered status of the tree, yearly production is limited.