The Ultimate Guide To Trekking The Atlas Mountains

Are you planning a visit to Morocco? There are many things to do in this beautiful country, but if you're a hiker you cannot miss out on trekking the Atlas Mountains.
Not sure where to start? We have created this guide just for you. Let's tell you why to hike this mountain range, how to get there, the trails to follow, the best time to go, and more.

Why Hike the Atlas Mountains, Morocco?

The Atlas Mountains is a majestic mountain range stretching across North-Western Africa in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
Morocco's High Atlas region features breathtaking landscapes, making it a prime destination for hikers from all over the world. The area is home to North Africa's highest peak, Mount Toubkal, one of the best mountains to climb in Africa.
The High Atlas region offers a variety of treks that range from moderate walks through verdant valleys and Berber villages to challenging ascents of Mount Toubkal's summit.

You can combine trekking Mount Toubkal and the Sahara Desert if you want the best of both worlds!

This diversity, combined with the mountain's proximity to the vibrant city of Marrakech, makes the Atlas Mountains a compelling addition to any hiker's bucket list - an adventure that's as rich in culture as it is in scenic beauty.
guide toubkal
Trekking with a guide makes for a much safer Toubkal experience.

How to Get To the Atlas Mountains in Morocco

The most common starting point is travelling from Marrakech to the village of Imlil, about 64km away. You can hire a private driver or hire a car and travel at your own pace.
You can also travel in a taxi - a private taxi charges around 350 MAD, and a shared taxi (Grand Taxis) charges about 50 MAD per person. Grand Taxis gather at specific stands, usually near bus stations, major squares, or on the outskirts of town. In Marrakech, for example, you can find Grand Taxis at Bab Doukkala, near the medina (be prepared to wait until the taxi fills up with other passengers heading in the same direction).
You can also take a bus, but since there are no direct buses from Marrakech to Imlil, you can ride bus number 35 from Sidi Mimoun in Marrakech to Tahnaout, and then a taxi to Imlil.
Quick Travel Tips: Always agree on the price before starting your journey, and have exact change (in local currency) if possible. Your driver may not have change for large bills.
morocco highlights
Remember to dress modestly - it signals respect for the local culture and keeps the harsh sun off your skin!

Best Time for A High Atlas Mountains Trek

The best time to visit Morocco and trek in the High Atlas Mountains is during the spring (March, April, and May) or autumn (September and October).
These seasons offer the most favourable weather conditions, with milder temperatures and clearer skies, making them ideal for hiking and enjoying the spectacular views of the Sahara Desert.
Summer months in Morocco's lowlands can see temperatures soaring into the 40s Celsius (100+ Fahrenheit), but the High Atlas remains cooler, around 10-15 °C lower on average. While hiking in July and August is still possible, it's considerably hotter.
Winter (November to February) introduces a different challenge, with snow covering the High Atlas, demanding basic winter mountaineering skills for those aiming for a winter Toubkal ascent.
If you want to go skiing, the High Atlas offers opportunities in January and February, while canyoning enthusiasts will find the rivers in the Middle Atlas at their fullest in spring and late autumn.
You can also visit the Todra Gorge in the Eastern High Atlas during spring, summer, or autumn months to avoid the peak holiday seasons and experience nice views of the African rising sun.

Where to Stay in The High Atlas Mountains

The places to stay in the Atlas Mountains range from luxurious retreats to rustic lodges. You can stay in top hotels like the L’Amandier Hotel in the Ouirgane Valley which offer luxurious villas with private balconies, infinity pools, and Egyptian cotton sheets.
The mid-range choices like Kasbah Bab Ourika provide a blend of modern amenities and traditional Moroccan décor, set against the backdrop of panoramic mountain vistas.
For a more authentic experience, Refuges and Gites like Tizi Mizik in Imlil offer a cosy stay in Berber villages, so you can immerse in local culture. These family-run guesthouses serve home-cooked Berber cuisine, offering a warm and communal atmosphere
trekking atlas mountains toubkal
The Atlas Mountains should be on the list of all hiking enthusiasts.

Best Hikes in the Atlas Mountains

Here's how to enjoy your Atlas Mountains hiking experience.

1. Jebel Toubkal Trek

If you want to trek the Atlas Mountains, then Mount Toubkal would be top of your bucket list.
Standing at 4,167 metres, the hike combines breathtaking landscapes with a touch of Moroccan culture. Toubkal is a challenging yet achievable climb for those with a good level of fitness, without the need for technical mountaineering skills.
You can book your luxury Toubkal hike with Skyhook and start in the village of Imlil - considered the gateway to Toubkal, even for hikers who attempt to hike Toubkal without a guide. As you wait to start the hike the following day, you can relax in the prestigious Kasbah du Toubkal and even request a traditional Moroccan hammam (special bath) to relax your muscles before the hike.
You will want to prepare yourself for the elevation and ascend slowly to allow your body to gently acclimatise and prevent Toubkal altitude sickness. You'll then hike through Sidi Chamharouch, a village that captivates with a simple way of life, far removed from the hustle and bustle of city living.
Do buy fresh fruit and juice while here!
Spend the night at a Toubkal refuge. Refuge de Toubkal is a rustic mountain accommodation that we recommend.
On the final day of your hike, you will set off in the dark, hiking to reach the summit just before sunrise. You'll witness the first light of day casting its glow over the Atlas Mountains, with views stretching to the Sahara Desert horizons.
hiking toubkal
Long hours under the hot sun can be mentally as well as physically draining.

2. Jebel Sahro Trek

The Jebel Sahro Trek offers a unique adventure, distinct from the more trodden paths for hiking in the High Atlas, Morocco.
Starting in the village of Taghssa, just south of Marrakech, you go on a journey through the heart of the country's wilderness and Berber culture. You'll pass through Tinghir Province's village of Imi n’Ouarg and several other Berber villages, each offering a glimpse into the traditional Moroccan way of life.
The ascent through Kouach to reach Jebel Sahro, standing at approximately 2,590 metres, is where the trek truly begins to reveal its breathtaking views. Though not as towering as Toubkal, the vistas from Jebel Sahro are nonetheless spectacular.
The descent will take you through the town of Igli, then past the valley near the Afourar River, and towards the village of Bab n’Ali. Continue to Tadout n’Tablah and then to Irhuazzoun, easing as you pass larger Berber settlements until you reach your final destination, the village of Hanedour.

3. Berber Villages Trek

This is a captivating multi-day journey through the heart of Morocco's High Atlas Mountains. You'll go through lush valleys and rugged terrain, and can even summit Mount Toubkal on the final day.
Your trek starts from the village of Imi Oughlad, where you'll ascend to Tizi n’Tachte, enjoying breathtaking views of the Imlil and Ait Oussaden valleys. The path leads you to the red clay terraced village of Tiziane, offering a warm welcome and a night's rest in a traditional gite.
The following days are a blend of cultural immersion and natural exploration. From Tiziane, you'll hike through walnut groves to Tizi n’taghrhourte and onto the village of D’knt, where another gite awaits. The trek from D’knt to Tizi n’tagdalte unveils more Berber villages where you can enjoy a hammam before calling it a night at a guesthouse.
You can finish your journey the following day by first visiting the Toubkal National Park's large waterfalls, and then head on to Ait Mizan Valley across the Tizi Mzzik pass and take in great views of the Imlil villages.
Alternatively, you can climb to Tizi Aguelzim and then to the Toubkal Refuge, preparing for the early morning summit attempt of the Toubkal peak.
trekking in morocco

4. Three Valleys Trek

The 3 Valleys Trek in the High Atlas Mountains is an ideal adventure for families and those seeking a gentler introduction to the region. It includes scenic vistas, lower altitudes, and shorter walking days.
You can start in the Imnan Valley and conclude in the Ait Mizane Valley, passing through the vibrant Azzaden Valley, renowned for its colourful landscapes and the Tazagahrt plateau's breathtaking waterfalls.
Along the way, you'll come across terraced fields of barley, corn, and vegetables, and the picturesque villages perched on cliffs.
Day one features a 5-6 hour walk from Imlil to the Tizi n’Tamatert Pass. You continue through high-alpine scenery, passing several villages and the Oudit Pass on day two, ending in Ait Aissa where a local gite and steam bath await.
The final day includes a visit to Toubkal National Park's waterfalls, crossing the Mzik Pass for spectacular valley vistas, before returning to Marrakech.

Other Fun Activities After Your Atlas Mountains Hike

In the Atlas Mountains, there's more than just trekking. You can go rafting in the Ourika River, or, soar above it all in a hot air balloon with up to 16 friends.
If you're into biking, you can also pedal through remote trails or aim for Mount Toubkal's base – bikes are available for rent in Imlil.
In addition, winter transforms the Atlas into a ski haven at Oukaimeden Ski Resort, with slopes for all - you can even snowboard! For a more leisurely exploration, horseback riding offers a unique view of Morocco's rugged beauty, making every moment in the Atlas Mountains unforgettable.
You can also visit Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled in the High Atlas. Known for its appearances in films like "Gladiator" and "Lawrence of Arabia," Ait Benhaddou offers a glimpse into Morocco's ancient architecture and history.
Ait Benhaddou
If you recognise Ait Benhaddou, it may be because it's made appearances in popular movies and TV shows!

Conclusion

If you're headed to Morocco next, we highly recommend planning a trip to the Atlas Mountains. Whether you will hike to the highest point on Toubkal, or want to explore the many Berber villages and culture, this region has so much to experience, including amazing views and memories.
Start by booking a trip with Skyhook today! You get everything, from hiking to high peaks, walking in the Atlas Mountains Sahara desert region, and more.

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