Morocco Tours by Erlebnis Tours Maroc






  
  
     
        
        
     
     
  







       
 

High Atlas Mountains

Introduction

The massive and mountainous chain of the High Atlas separates Marrakech from the arid plains and semi-Saharan dunes to its south. Rugged peaks rise to over 4,000m (13,000 ft) and are usually snow-or ice-covered from November to April. With their myriad of remote and friendly Berber villages tucked high up on the plateaux, and the network of mule paths that links them, this region is a mountain biker's and walkerís haven, particularly in spring (April/May), when the winter snows have melted. Day time temperatures are pleasant, wild flowers abound, and emerald green terraces contrast dramatically with the forbiddingly brown and barren hillsides. The High Atlas has walks to suit all abilities, but mules and horses are also available for riding in the villages. Your visit to the Atlas range can be as challenging as you like from a full on ascent of the highest peak, Jebel Toubkal at 4,167m, to a gentle stroll through the tranquil Jebel Sahro region, where the rocky landscape is interspersed with crystal clear rock pools home to many exotic creatures.

The villages in the High Atlas are small but thriving and are home to the Berbers - enduring, hospitable and very friendly people. The villages offer stylish accommodation in the local houses and there are established guides available. The high peaks force the clouds to give high quantities of rainfall; therefore the High Atlas has many fertile valleys surrounded by rivers and waterfalls. Rich in precious and semi-precious stones and crystals, the area is also a geologistís delight.

Things to See & Do

A trek through the spectacular High Atlas Mountains is not just one of the most scenic hikes in the world - it's also an immersion into the culture of the Berber people, Morocco's original inhabitants. Few roads penetrate this craggy mountain stronghold, where the agrarian way of life has little changed in a hundred years. As you trek, you'll see Berber women in brightly coloured dresses tending fields amid picturesque mud-brick villages, and higher up, you'll meet nomadic shepherds in summer pastures. Take the time to visit homes to share a cup of mint tea with these friendly, open mountain people. The trek is strenuous, but scenic grandeur abounds, from towering limestone peaks to sheer red-rock canyons.

For sightseeing in this region, the following are two spectacular drives:

  • Marrakech - Taroudant (280km, allow 5-6 hours)
    Morocco's most spectacular road is the R203 which goes over the Tizi'n'Test pass (2,092m) linking Taroudant to Marrakech. The pass itself is about 100km from Marrakech, after Asni (near the Kasbah de Toubkal) and Ouirgane. The breathtaking mountain scenery is reason alone for taking this route, but try and include time to visit the historic mosque of Tin Mal (lies on the Marrakech side of the pass), one of only a handful which non-muslims can visit (except Fridays).

   

  • Marrakech - Ouarzazate - Draa Valley/Dades Valley (200km/3 hours as far as Ouarzazate)
    Another breathtaking drive, which takes you up into the Atlas crossing the Tizi'n'Tichka pass. From here you can make a worthwhile detour to the crumbling but surprisingly lavish Glaoui kasbah at Telouet. From Ouarzazate, you can head east through the Dades Valley known as the road of the thousand kasbahs. 30km before Ouarzazate is the best preserved kasbah of the Atlas region - Ait Benhaddou which featured in Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth and Gladiator. Continue driving beyond Ouarzazate either down the magical Draa valley towards Zagora (165km from Ouarzazate) and the desert, passing through oases and Berber villages or to Tinerhir along the Valley of the Kasbahs. For the more adventurous and energetic this is a great trip by mountain bike.

Glaoui kasbah at Telouet    Dades Valley

Gorges
There are a number of beautiful gorges, including:

  • The spectacular Todra and Dades Gorges are quite close to each other on the south edge of the High Atlas Mountains, east of Skoura. The Dades is recommended as it is less frequented by tourists and very spectacular.

Todra Gorge   

  • The Oued Nfiss Gorges are on the north edge of the High Atlas Mountains near Ouirgane. Only 1 hour from Marrakech.

  • The Aoulouz Gorge is on the road between Taroudant/Agadir and the desert.

Places to stay in the High Atlas Mountains near Marrakech:

  • Ouirgane is a very small town in a wonderful setting in the High Atlas, between Marrakech & Taroudant. A good base for guided walks or treks into the surrounding area which includes some spectacular gorges. Only 1 hour from Marrakech.

  • Imlil is a village at the end of a valley where most treks to Jebel Toubkal, 4167 m, North Africa's highest peak, begins. Only 1.5 hrs from Marrakech.

Enquiries & Booking

To enquire about or to book a personalized private High Atlas Mountain tour, please call us on +44(0)7713 615829 or send an email to enquiries@erlebnis-tours-maroc.com to discuss your itinerary and prices.

 

Atlas Mountains   Imlil

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