Adventure Holidays in Morocco: Trek and Sweat Your Way through the Atlas Mountains
Famous for its incomparable beauty and cultural diversity, Morocco is Africa’s top tourist destination which sees over 12 million visitors annually. Some travelers prefer to take it a bit easy as they maybe do a bit of sightseeing in cities like Marrakesh, Tangier, and Casablanca. Others, however, want to experience the ultimate trekking adventure experiences that Morocco has to offer.
If you belong to the second group, you’re in for a real treat. There are many trails in Morocco available for hikers of all fitness and experience levels. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the various trekking routes through the world-famous Atlas Mountains.
The Atlas mountain ranges (Anti-Atlas, Middle Atlas, and High Atlas) divide Morocco into two parts, from north-east to south-west. They boast the highest summit in North Africa, Mount Toubkal, and are home to several peaks above 4,000 meters. These mountains are home to caves, lush valleys, deep gorges, and snowy pinnacles, all of which can provide hikers with unforgettable trekking experiences. Keep on reading to find out more about Morocco’s famous trails in the Atlas Mountains.
Probably the most famous destination in Morocco among seasoned trekkers, Mount Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa, standing at 4,167 meters. During the summer, it’s a trek within reach of most people with decent fitness levels. However, a real challenge begins if you want to climb Mount Toubkal in Morocco during the winter months.
Only more experienced climbers can take on the winter ascent and succeed. The High Atlas Mountains are unforgivable, and without proper guidance and equipment, your adventure can take a dangerous turn pretty quickly. Depending on the starting point, the trek can take between a couple days and a week to complete.
Regardless of which season you choose to hike, you’re guaranteed to see breathtaking views along the way.
Jebel Saghro is not as well known among travelers, but this can actually work in your favor if you’re the type of traveler who enjoys exploring destinations without mass crowds and a bit of peace and quiet. If climbing Mount Toubkal is too big of a challenge, visiting this Anti-Atlas mountain range might be a perfect opportunity for you to experience another ultimate trekking adventure with milder conditions.
The altitude and temperatures are slightly lower, making the ascent less challenging and minimizing the risk of altitude sickness. The highest summit, Amalou n’Mansour, is significantly lower than the High Atlas peaks, standing at 2,712 meters, however, there are still plenty of incredible sights to see like ancient caves adorned with prehistoric paintings which an experienced guide may be able to lead you to. If you want to experience a trekking adventure in Morocco as a novice, Jebel Saghro will be a perfect choice for you.
Who said that if you’re going on a trek in Morocco you have to focus simply on climbing the famous peaks? While the snowy, glistening peaks are definitely the top priority for many travelers, the Atlas Mountains have plenty more treks to offer. The hidden Berber valleys are just as tempting and picturesque as the views experienced in the higher mountains.
Ait Bouguemez, or The Happy Valley, is a great example of hidden Moroccan beauty. This remote valley is located in the middle of the High Atlas Mountains. To get there, you’ll need to rent a car or hire a driver. The Happy Valley is situated five hours away from Marrakesh. Once you get there, you can dedicate 2 or 3 days to wander from village to village and witness the quiet and peaceful life of Berbers, the indigenous peoples of North Africa. The terrain is mild and the conditions very favorable during the spring, making this a great trekking choice for families during this season. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can also partake in a multi-day, or even a several-week trek to fully immerse yourself in the diverse Moroccan culture.
Another destination perfectly suited for people who can’t partake in multi-day hikes but want to see the High Atlas Mountains is the Imlil Valley. It’s a popular spot for visitors who are short on time but want to experience authentic Moroccan culture. Located around 35 miles south of Marrakesh, the Imlil Valley is a popular starting spot for seasoned trekkers who want to climb Mount Toubkal. However, it’s also a great place to spend a day or two even if you’re not attempting to reach the region’s most coveted summit.
Due to its location and popularity, the Imlil Valley is abundant with shops, affordable restaurants, and small hostels where you can pay as little as $25 per night. Outdoor enthusiasts often use it as a base for their various adventures. A scenic, 24-hour route can take you through Asni, a Berber village, and an exotic valley called the Imlil Crossing. This proves you don’t necessarily have to rough it in order to enjoy a truly Moroccan experience!
The Bottom Line
Morocco is a truly amazing country with incredibly diverse people, cultures, and landscapes. Every traveler can fulfill their dream of experiencing an ultimate Moroccan trekking adventure regardless of their experience. People of all skill levels can travel to Morocco and find a trail suited to their personal ability and needs, and whether it’s Mount Toubkal, Jebel Saghro, or the Imlil Valley, the views you’ll see will be truly unforgettable.
Keep in mind that the Atlas Mountains change with the seasons, each season offering their own unique experiences. Some trails can be extremely challenging in winter and are geared towards more athletic travelers, while others are extremely popular with families traveling with younger children. Nevertheless, if you end up going to Morocco, you’re in for a real treat. Do your research and be prepared, and discovering Morocco’s hidden gems will be nothing short of amazing.
Article By: Julia Łysakowska