The Atlas Mountains in Morocco It’s correct that when we think of Morocco, we think of the desert, even though mountains cover more than two-thirds of the country. The High Atlas, Middle Atlas, Anti Atlas, and the Rif are the four mountain ranges that make up Morocco. With Dunes and Desert, explore the riches that each of these mountain ranges has to offer.
1- The High Atlas Mountains Morocco
This mountainous region, which runs over 700 kilometers and culminates at 4167 meters above sea level with Mount Toubkal, is North Africa’s tallest massif. It is the mountain range that draws the most people, first because it is near to Marrakech and, second, because it offers a variety of sporting opportunities.
The jewels of the Atlas Mountains Morocco
Mount Toubkal (4167m) and Mont MGoun are two of the High Atlas Mountains Morocco’ treasures to be discovered (4 071m). The Ourika and Ait Oucheg valleys, with their traditional Berber towns and terraced crops, are well worth seeing.
In terms of wildlife, the caracal lynx and the Berber leopard are two cat species that may be found, however, they are both rather uncommon.
Weasels, foxes, jackals, wild boars, squirrels, and even monkeys are often seen.
The vicious buzzard, the booted eagle, the circaete, the hawk, the crècerelle, the peregrine falcon, and even the golden eagle are among the various birds of prey.
The tallest waterfalls in Morocco, Ouzoud waterfalls, may be found in the High Atlas, near the little Berber settlement of the same name.
You can even go skiing!! The only ski resort in Morocco, the Oukameden station, will enable you to travel down certain runs if there is enough snow.
Finally, there’s the Jbel Saghro, a volcanic mountain range with lunar sceneries that overlooks the Dades Canyon and the Draa Valley.
In the High Atlas, what should you do?
From Marrakech, you may participate in a variety of activities!!
The climb of Mount Toubkal (3 days), the ascent of Mount MGoun (4 days), a thorough tour of the Ourika valley to meet the Berber people (2 days), or a day of strolling in the Valley of Ait Oucheg or Ouzoud waterfalls are among the most popular activities in the High Atlas.
Mountain activities such as canyoning and mountain biking are also available.
2- The Middle Atlas Mountains Morocco
The Middle Atlas, which runs over 350 kilometers between the High Atlas and the Rif, is situated north of the High Atlas and south of the Rif. If you are staying in the towns of Fez, Meknes, or Beni Mellal, this is the mountain range to see.
The Middle Atlas Mountains Morocco
The Ifrane National Park is one of the Middle Atlas’ hidden gems, with scenery that is the most characteristic of Morocco. Hiking or fishing are also options.
The city of Ifrane, with its sharp-roofed architecture and heavy snowfall in the winter, resembles a little Swiss town!
The Bin El Ouidane dam, another Center Atlas jewel, was erected in the 1950s and creates a lake of approximately 3000 hectares of crystal pure waters in the middle of the mountains. A picturesque setting that continues to draw visitors from all over the globe. You may stay at one of the many lovely hotels along the lake and participate in a variety of water activities (jet-ski, wakeboard, kayak, banana boat, or even pedal boat).
3- Rif Atlas Mountains Morocco
The Rif mountain range in northern Morocco covers about 500 kilometers from Tangier to Moulouya. The Rif is mostly made up of mountains and plains, with the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Middle Atlas Mountains Morocco to the south.
Fir trees, cedars, wild olive trees, cork oaks, and oaks make up the diverse vegetation. Cannabis crops are also grown in the Rif.
Beautiful walks may be taken in the stunning scenery. The Rif’s highest peak is 2456 meters. On these hikes, we may see goats, gazelles, and perhaps the golden eagle.
Rift Valley’s Treasures
Chefchaouen, often known as the “blue gem,” is a must-see in the area. This modest medieval village has been a true Instagram star for a few years and is a peaceful retreat. Explore the tiny alleyways of its traditional and peaceful medina, learn about its distinctive handicraft and culture, and stay in one of its modest hotels or guest homes. We guarantee you won’t want to leave!
Explore the Akchour area and its stunning natural bridge, the God’s Bridge, on a day trek. Strolling along the river in the shade reveals a geological wonder: a spectacular rock arch, rising 25 meters above the river, the Oued Farda, which eroded the rock to make this natural art piece. Swimming in crystal clear waters is followed by a tajine right in the river. Chefchaouen is about 30 minutes away from paradise!!
4- The anti-Atlas Mountains Morocco
The Anti-Atlas is Morocco’s oldest mountain range and the southernmost of the Atlas Mountains. It’s an eroded, arid mountain on the Sahara’s edge. It stretches east to Jbel Saghro, which marks the start of the High Atlas.
The Anti-Atlas has several treasures.
The Anti-Atlas massif is less well-known by tourists, and you’ll find a more true and hidden Morocco.
Taroudant, situated 80 kilometers from Agadir in the Souss area, is a little attractive village fortified by stunning red walls worth nearly as much as the city itself. It’s known as the “Little Marrakech.”
Taliouine is known for its outstanding saffron and climbs across the Jbel Siroua range.
Tafraoute, the pink city, is hidden in a circus of pink granite and will please geology and trekking enthusiasts alike!
The Moroccan highlands, as you can see, are rich with hidden gems and activities of all types. Please do not hesitate to seek our help or schedule your mountain activities directly on our website on your next visit.
The Atlas Mountains in Morocco are a spectacular place with breathtaking scenery, small Berber settlements, ruined Kasbahs, and excellent trekking. Here’s all you need to know about visiting the Atlas Mountains.
In the Atlas Mountains’ Berber settlements, life continues to be lived traditionally. Shepherds lead their wandering flocks across some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet, while women care about the crops.
High mountains with snow-capped peaks lead to rivers that cut through stunning red rock canyons, creating oases of life. It’s a great region of Morocco to explore with a diversified terrain. The Atlas Mountains represent a very different, pastoral aspect to this wonderful nation, far from the madness of Fez or Marrakech.
Go a beautiful day walk in a beautiful valley or take on a multi-day adventure across high mountains. Visit crumbling Kasbahs immortalized on film, explore strange red sandstone gorges, and try your hand at bargaining in local marketplaces.
Here are the top spots to visit in the Atlas Mountains Morocco and how to get there to help you gain your bearings in this under-visited area of Morocco.
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WHAT IS THE LOCATION OF THE HIGH ATLAS MOUNTAINS?
The Atlas Mountains start at the Atlantic Ocean’s coastlines in Morocco, pass Algeria, and finish on Tunisia’s Mediterranean coast. They cover almost 2,500 kilometers in total.
The High Atlas Mountains are located entirely in central Morocco and reach a height of 4,167 meters. The landscape is the most stunning and diversified here. Rainfall is more on the gentler slopes of the northern and western margins, resulting in beautiful green valleys that sustain the Berbers’ traditional way of life.
The southern edge is drier and more rugged. Red sandstone canyons have been worn through time, forming strange patterns that hide small slivers of green. The abrupt transition from grass to rock, from green to red, as you travel across the Atlas Mountains’ high passes is extremely dramatic.
IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS, THERE ARE A FEW SITES TO VISIT.
There is a lot to see in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco since they span such a large region. The top spots to visit in the Atlas Mountains are listed below.
1 – VALLEY OF OURIKA
It’s ideal for a quick excursion from Marrakech.
The Ourika Valley is located in the Atlas Mountains’ foothills. Its terraced meadows and flowing waterfalls stand in stark contrast to the arid Moroccan plains.
The majority go to Setti Fattma, the last tiny village on the paved road leading up the Ourika Valley. It serves as a starting point for day excursions into the Atlas Mountains, the most popular of which includes a visit to seven waterfalls. You may enjoy a walk along the river, swim in the (very cold) water, and dine in restaurants situated over the water.
The cherry and almond orchards, as well as the wildflowers that blanket the scenic riverfront, are particularly beautiful in March and April.
It is an escape hatch for the city, being slightly over an hour’s drive from Marrakech. Locals and visitors alike flee the medina’s sweltering heat for the cooler, more pleasant atmosphere. As a consequence, it may get quite crowded. However, if you just have a limited amount of time, it’s a fantastic day excursion.
2 – MOUNT TOUBKAL AND IMLIL
Best for hard walks in the Atlas Mountains’ highest peaks
Imlil is a little settlement that has grown into a hotspot for high-altitude hiking. It may lack the charm and heritage of other Berber communities in the Atlas Mountains Morocco, but adventure and landscape more than make up for it. Mount Toubkal, at 4167 meters, is the tallest of the several snow-capped summits seen from here.
Almost everyone who travels to Imlil has one goal in mind: to stroll. Short day walks throughout the valley and multi-day excursions to the highest peaks are available. The climb eastwards to Mount Toubkal’s top is the most popular. It may be completed in as short as two days or over five days if you choose a more leisurely path.
Hiking west to the Azzadene Valley and Ouirgane, home to some of the most traditional Berber settlements in the region, is another excellent choice.
3: OUIRGANE VALLEY
The best time to go is when you want to explore authentic Berber settlements.
While multi-day hikers go to Imlil and day-trippers flock to the Ourika Valley, those hoping for a more traditional experience flock to Ouirgane.
This rusty red valley, which is lower in elevation and warmer than Imlil, is home to rural Berber villages. Plums, blackberries, olives, figs, and nut trees abound on the valley level along the riverbanks. Onions, potatoes, alfalfa, wheat, and barley are grown on the hills, sustaining a rural lifestyle.
There’s no better place in Morocco to stay in genuine, high-quality lodging and be so near to traditional Berber life. Take a guided walking tour of surrounding towns, eat supper with your Berber host, and trade tales before relaxing by the pool at the end of the day.
Walking into the Azzadene Valley or driving a 4×4 on dirt roads to Assif Zagawari, where you’ll be surrounded by stunning snow-capped mountains and Morocco’s highest peaks, are two more possibilities.
Best for the Atlas Mountains Morocco most stunning waterfall
The Ouzoud Falls, another popular day excursion from Marrakech, is Morocco’s most stunning. The falls are charmingly ensconced in a tropical paradise that provides a cool calming reprieve from the fierce Moroccan heat, tumbling a total of 110 meters over three separate drops.
There are several fascinating treks around the canyon, as well as numerous restaurants where you may stop for a bite to eat while admiring the view. As spray from the falls clings to lush green vegetation and cools the air, a walkway zigzags down the valley wall. Tourists and locals alike disobey the warnings prohibiting swimming in the picturesque pools at the foot of the falls. For a very low ticket, you may take a boat trip to acquire a unique vantage point from which to see the falls.
You won’t need more than a day here, but it’s worth dropping by if you’re passing through Morocco or on your way to another location.
The best way to experience unspoiled Morocco
Many consider At Bouguemez to be Morocco’s most picturesque valley, located in the northern slopes of the High Atlas mountains. A tangle of irrigation systems descends from terraced hills, feeding a patchwork of wheat and barley fields. Under the towering rocky top of the M’Goun massif – Morocco’s third tallest – there’s a sea of green.
Berber villages dot the scenery, and their way of life may be seen throughout the valley. In the foothills, men tend goats, women cut harvests to pile high on their backs, and children rush to and from school. It’s a traditional way of life in a lovely setting.
There are a few riads and motels that provide lodging and food, but there are few other options. It’s a bit more difficult to get here than other areas. The paved roads were just built at the turn of the century and maybe a bit bumpy in spots, but it’s all part of a Moroccan experience off the usual path. The landscape, especially along the rough roads between Demnat and At M’Hamed, is breathtaking.
If you want to witness a rural Morocco that hasn’t been impacted by tourists, head to At Bouguemez. We encountered several Berbers and just two tourists throughout our four days here.
AiT BEN HADDOU & OUNILA VALLEY
Exploring ruined ksars and kasbahs is a must.
From the lofty Atlas Mountains to the arid plains just north of the Sahara Desert, the Ounila Valley winds its way. It was the caravan road between Marrakech and the Sahara for ages, and traders came to trade while the mighty waited to exact their taxes.
The majestic crumbling mansions of Telouet Kasbah and Tamdaght Kasbah, as well as the walled villages of Anmiter and Ait Ben Haddou that border the valley level, bear witness to that power. It’s a breathtaking scene, with huge ruins perched on the rims of steep red valleys.
Several films, including Gladiator, Jesus of Nazareth, Kingdom of Heaven, and Prince of Persia, were filmed here to make use of the vast scenery.
The well-paved road connecting the sites is a wonderful and easy trip, and there are some excellent lodging options. While the valley’s southern end, at At Ben Haddou, may grow crowded, the northern end is equally as beautiful and has practically no visitors.
Green oasis and magnificent red rock formations are the best.
While the Atlas Mountains’ northern and western sides are greener and more alive, the southern side is a sea of boulders and rock. In the spring, though, snowmelt from the High Atlas Mountains Morocco accumulates in rivers and pours downstream, carving deep ravines and spectacular valleys over time. One of the most stunning is the Dadès Valley.
As you approach from the south, the red rock valley narrows until it is barely wider than the road, twisting and turning as it rises higher and higher. The trip to Café Timzzillite is one of the valley’s most famous Instagram spots, but there’s so much more to see.
Monkey Fingers’ slot canyons and rivulets are breathtaking to walk through. Beautiful villages, friendly people, nomadic camps, and breathtaking landscapes are all along the way. A stay at Auberge Chez Pierre is highly recommended for delicious Moroccan cuisine in a gorgeous location.
8 – GORGE TODRA
For stunning views amid red rock canyons, this is the place to go.
The Todra Gorge is located only a few hours east of the Dadès Valley. It’s the most spectacular of Morocco’s red rock canyons, standing about 200 meters tall and barely 10 meters wide at its narrowest point. It opens out into the Tinghir Oasis, a huge area of green that breaks up the desert’s monotony. The juxtaposition of red sandstone boulders and flowing green palms is striking.
The town of Tinghir makes this a livelier environment, but put on your hiking boots or take a trip down some of the back roads and you’ll soon be alone. A half-day trek that explores the highlights of the Todra Gorge is available. Alternatively, stay at Auberge le Festival and follow their network of well-marked pathways or hire a guide.
From here, you may go south and east to the Sahara or north over the Atlas Mountains to Agoudal and Imilchil, where the paved road between Agoudal and Imilchil is a magnificent adventure into a much less frequented part of Morocco.
MOROCCO: HOW TO GET AROUND THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS
The Atlas Mountains in Morocco may be approached in three ways. Take a tour, drive your own car, or use public transportation.
IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS, PUBLIC TRANSPORT
CTM and Supratours are two bus companies that cater to visitors. Both companies provide frequent bus service between Marrakech and Ouarzazate, which takes 4 hours and 30 minutes, including a 25-minute stop. They do not, however, stop at any tourist attractions along the way.
Supratours also offers occasional trips to Kalaat M’Gouna and Tinghir, both located at the foot of the Roses Valley and Todra Gorge Valley, respectively.
GRAND TAXIS TAXIS TAXIS TAXIS
For traveling to some of the smaller towns and villages, Grand Taxis are a better option. Grand Taxis are huge automobiles that can accommodate 4 to 6 passengers. They travel between specified places for a certain fare, but only when they are completely filled. They tend to be relatively contemporary in cities, but the farther afield you go, the more likely you are to be in a rusted-out 1970s clunker. It may be a fun and sociable way to travel, as well as a fantastic method to link cities with more rural sites such As Bougmez, Ouirgane, and Imlil. Patience, on the other hand, is essential.
IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS, DRIVING
When you arrive in a city or hamlet, you may often need to find your way to additional sites or attractions. Self-driving is therefore a preferable alternative for exploring the Atlas Mountains.
Driving in Moroccan cities may be treacherous. However, driving in the Atlas Mountains is not as difficult as many people believe. The major highways are well-paved and well-signposted, there are plenty of gas stations, and traffic is typically minimal. Because there are so few roads to choose from, using Google Maps to navigate is simple. The greatest way to view the Atlas Mountains is to take a car trip through them.
IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS, DO YOU Need A 4×4?
Because the route through the Ounila Valley was recently resurfaced, any skilled driver in a 2WD vehicle may see all of the landmarks on this list. The only exception is At Bouguemez, which has a paved road but was in terrible shape on our previous trip. While locals seemed to like driving in a 2WD, I believe most visitors would prefer a 4WD.
Hiring a 4×4 has the extra benefit of allowing you to go off the beaten path and explore. These more rural routes may range from crumbling paved roads to gravel pistes or steep paths studded with boulders. It’s a lot of fun to cling to small trails on the rims of steep valleys on your way to little settlements, and it allows you to experience a really rustic and secluded side of Morocco.
Please ask us in the comments below if you have any queries regarding road conditions or which regions or routes you would desire a 4×4.
MOROCCO’S ATLAS MOUNTAINS TOUR
If driving or waiting for buses seems like too much effort, there are several trips that zoom through the Atlas Mountains. Marrakech (with its international airport) is the major center for trips exploring the Atlas Mountains in the north. Although Ouarzazate, in the south, is slowly beginning to provide a variety of excursions.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS?
In the spring, when flowers adorn the valley bottom and the crops are a vibrant green, the Atlas Mountains are at their most attractive. Snow may be sluggish to melt in early spring, and heavy rains can wash away the granite that supports the roadways, rendering them inaccessible. Mid-April to late May is the best time to visit.
The temperature rises in the summer, the wheat, and barley become brown, and the snow on the mountain peaks melt, making the panorama less lovely. At lower elevations, the heat may be oppressive, making walking exhausting.
September through October, when the summer temperatures have dropped, is also a lovely time to come, albeit the colors are not as vivid as they are in the spring.
Finally, stay away from the months of December through March. Atlas Mountains Morocco routes may be covered with snow, rendering them inaccessible.