Hiking and walking in Morocco
Morocco is one of the best places for hiking, trekking and camping. Morocco is a playground for hiking enthusiasts. Throughout the country, trails traverse arid deserts, mighty mountains and lush oasis’s. If you are planning on trekking or taking a hiking tour in Morocco, read on to discover an overview of the different regions and landscapes that Morocco has to offer.
The Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains contain some of the most beautiful trails and dramatic landscapes that Morocco has to offer. Discover deep valleys interspersed with charming mountain villages, and flanked by towering rocky peaks.
The Atlas Mountain range is home to the highest mountain in North Africa, Jebel Toubkal (4,167m). A challenging but extremely rewarding ascent of Toubkal is possible over 2 days. On this trek, hikers have the unique opportunity to stay overnight at a hikers refuge, situated at 3200m on the mountain.
Tip: Start early on the second day and reach the summit in time for sunrise. Catch a stunning panorama of the landscape as the day’s first light begins to illuminate the peaks and troughs of the mountain range.
Visitors should also note that as of 2019, a hiking guide is required to accompany you on the Mount Toubkal trek.
You don’t have to climb Toubkal to experience the beauty of the High Atlas. There is a multitude of shorter trails around the region that offer fantastic views of the valley and a taste of Berber village life.
The Little Atlas Mountains
The Little Atlas or ‘Anti Atlas’ mountain range is the small cousin of the High Atlas. Although they have lesser peaks and lesser crowds, they are by no means inferior in terms of beauty. They are located in the South of Morocco, stretching from the Sahara to the oasis town of Talifat. The Anti-Atlas region is home the Chleuh people, the indigenous Berber people of Southern Morocco. Discover Chleuh villages, and get a taste for the Berber way of life.
Some popular hikes include Jebel El Kest, Jebel Siroua & Adrar Mqorn.
Jbel Saghro range
The Jebel Saghro is a smaller mountain range that carries on from the Anti-Atlas. It is one of the aridest places in Morocco. The landscape of the Jbel Saghro range is desolately beautiful and contains several other-worldly rock formations.
These curious formations stand sharp and upright, like liquid metal bristling towards an invisible magnet in the sky. The region is home to the Aït Atta tribe, who live in a few small villages across the region.
Jbel Saghro is a true adventurers playground. Here, hikers can trek around plunging canyons, discover ancient cave paintings, and camp beneath the soaring silhouettes of Bab N’Ali. Visitors to this region will truly feel like they have entered another world.
The Dades valley, or the ‘Valley of roses’ is aptly titled for the abundance of flowers that grow there. In the springtime, the perfume from the roses pervades the valley with its sweet floral fragrance. The valley is especially famous for its Rose harvest festival during May.
In terms of hiking, the landscape in this region lush and verdant. The trails in the Dades will take you through trees, across rivers and fields. The hikes often pass by many small desert tours of Morocco., which give a taste of local life in the valley.
The Middle Atlas Mountains
The Middle Atlas are the least-visited part of the Atlas mountain region. It is located in the North of Morocco.
The Sahara Desert
The Sahara desert is one of the most iconic landscapes in the world. Just the word ‘Sahara’ conjures images of yellow rolling dunes, sauntering camels and glittering night skies. Discover the true majesty of the landscape, hike up mighty dunes, and experience traditional Berber desert camping.
There are are a variety of areas that visitors can choose to experience trekking, camping and desert tours of Morocco. Here is an overview of the top desert picks.
Agafay desert is the closest desert landscape reachable from Marrakech, lying just 40km to the south of the city. Agafay is rocky and semi-arid. However, it does not have the sandy dune-scape of the Southern Sahara. For visitors short on time, this is the perfect way to get a taste of the desert.
This arid landscape is beautifully framed by the Atlas mountain range in the distance. A popular day spot amongst locals, visitors can experience walking trails, as well as camel rides and other adventure sports. It is also a great spot to combine with trekking in the Atlas mountains.
The Zagora desert is located a 6.5-hour drive from Marrakech. However, visitors have the opportunity to see many points of interest when taking a desert tour from the city. These include the spectacular Draa valley and UNESCO listed ancient Kasbahs. The Zagora desert is rocky desert, with some sandy regions. It is particularly spectacular for the desert oasis that visitors traverse en route to the desert camps. Trekking includes some smaller dunes in the sandy regions of the desert.
A desert tour of Merzouga will take you nearly 500km outside Marrakech. However, the trip is well worth the journey. Merzouga is one of the best places to explore the classic Sahara landscape, with a vast sea of dunes waiting to be climbed and explored. Here, visitors will find the perfect dunes for dune sliding and sandboarding.
There are also great opportunities to camp, with many Berber desert camps offering traditional accommodation. Merzouga is one of the more isolated locations, cradled deep in the Saharan wilderness. For this reason, the star-sky here is one of the most spectacular. Relax under a glittering sky, and listen to the sound of Berber drums and traditional music.
Last but not least, the Chigaga Desert is located deep in the belly of the Sahara. It is one of the most untouched ‘Ergs’, or sand deserts in the Sahara. For visitors to this region, it is an extremely intimate experience of the desert.
The Chigaga is situated past the Zagora desert, nearly at the border of Algeria. The region is wild and sparsely populated, and having a guide to accompany you is imperative. There is an abundance of desert and hiking tours starting from the town of M’Hamid. Experience a sea of untouched dunes rolling across the earth like a sheet of satin billowing in the wind. In the wilderness of Chigaga, the night sky is one of the best in Morocco.