Morocco is blessed with some of the most beautiful and dramatic mountains in the world. Especially, there is the Atlas Mountains, one of the natural wonders of Morocco. Yet, many of the mountains see only a handful of visitors each year; others remain completely undiscovered by travelers. Also, Morocco’s vast climatic range is a blessing for adventurers. Whatever destination you choose, trekking in the mountains should be the highlight of any visit to Morocco. Let’s follow us to the paths of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco!
The High Atlas Mountains
This highest mountain range in North Africa is actually an adventurer’s paradise. The High Atlas runs diagonally across Morocco, from the Atlantic coast east of Agadir all the way to northern Algeria. Running for about 740km, the range includes several over-4000m-peaks and over 400 peaks with 3000m in height. This makes for a spectacular setting for trekkings and offers the possibility to achieve a few summits as you go.
The locals here, the Berbers, call the High Atlas Mountains Idraren Draren (Mountains of Mountains). Certainly, their presence here would be one of the most memorable aspects of a trek. Though wild and inhospitable, the area has long been inhabited by the Berbers with flat-roofed villages that seem to grow out of the mountainside, above terraced gardens, walnut orchards, and fruit trees.
West High Atlas
You don’t have to go too far west of Jebel Toubkal to find a very different landscape and some very different trekking conditions. The lower ranges to the west, running down towards the Souss-Massa, are generally warmer and greener. However, you are still able to wonderfully trek in a wondrous area where jagged mountains and deep canyons are interspersed with swathes of forests, fertile valleys, almonds, olives, walnuts, and distinctive Berber villages. The terrain can make trekking gentler, but it still offers some challenges and plenty of rewards.
The hidden gem here is the Tichka Plateau (Plateau du Tichka), a charming area of highland grasslands that are especially enjoyable in spring when they are covered in wildflowers. Although many of the paths here require less effort than in the Toubkal region, Tichka is crisscrossed by hidden gorges, dense with forests, and peaks, and bordered by wonderful Berber villages.
Central High Atlas
A large number of trekkers are moving to High Atlas and M’Goun Massif. M’Goun offers a great range for adventurers, as it is remote and relatively unexplored. There are many circumstances here: sedimentary rock formations, ridges, and outcrops, massive canyons displaying deep red and orange walls carved by erosion. Indeed, these canyons are one of the highlights of the area and some can be walked and/or waded through, as sometimes they’re deep in the cold water, making for a memorable experience. On top of that, one of the great joys of this trek is the opportunity to follow a river to its source, cross the mountain, and then follow another river down to its valley.
The landscape is incredibly diverse with lush valleys and bare rock walls. Especially, there is some of the Berber architecture you will only see in this valley, or in Yemen and Afghanistan.
Why aren’t many people going to trek in the Rif Mountains? The first and lowest point of the mountains ripple south through Morocco, making a perfect trekking region. Furthermore, the area is blessed with stunning mountain ranges, canyons, and valleys, bordered by cedar, oak, and fir forests. Located near the Mediterranean, the Rif mountain is the greenest of the mountains ranges. Especially, springtime in Morocco, with its wild sunflower blooms, is one of the best times to trek here. Also, you’re likely to encounter bands of Barbary gibbons around the edge of Talassemtane National Park.
The last important mountains before the Sahara were the arid, pink, and light brown chain of the Anti-Atlas, and below the arid, jagged mass of two great peaks straddling irrigated valleys and a chain of oases. Morocco has so many trekking options that it is not surprising a potential area of Tafraoute remains untapped. The Anti-Atlas around Tafraoute have rugged, barren rocks and lush green valleys. Besides that, Jebel El Kest is the top attraction in the eastern end of this range. Additionally, there is ‘amethyst mountain’ a large ridge that stretches northwest of Tafraoute.
Tips for Your Trip to the Atlas Mountains Morocco
It’s always good to know more about the destinations to well-prepare the trip. Here are some tips that you might want to know before roaming Morocco’s Atlas Mountains:
- High Atlas is only 90 mins driving from the “Red City” Marrakesh. The city is ideal for you to stay a few days before the trek for well-preparation.
- You can reach the peak of Jebel Toubkal and come back to the small village Imlil within a day. However, if you can organize the tour into a 3-day trek, you will be able to significantly enjoy the trip more. Actually, Imlil is the main start point for the ascent of Jebel Toubkal, about 90 mins drive from Marrakesh.
- There are many choices of accommodations in Imlil village. Nevertheless, Kasbah du Toubkal is the recommended pick for the best experience when you spend days at the village. Indeed, you will have a chance to enjoy Berber’s hospitality in the beautiful surrounded scenery.
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