Hiking in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco

There are many stunning and beautiful places to go hiking and camping in the UK, such as the Highlands of Scotland, the Lake District or Snowdonia to name but a few. However, you may fancy going on a walking holiday abroad, especially if you are fed up with the bad weather that is always a possibility on a holiday in the UK. Even with breathable waterproof jackets and trousers the rain can get you down. So where can you get away from the bad weather and still go hiking? One suggestion is the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.

Town of Taghia, Atlas Mountains
The beautiful village of Taghia, Atlas Mountains

The Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The Atlas Mountains are located in North West Africa. They span right across Morocco and into Algeria. In the central Atlas Mountains it is possible to see scenery of staggering beauty. For example, a classic hike, called The Circuit of Taghia contains both immense cliffs and flat, extended high plateaus.

Atlas Mountains Hiking Holiday Itinerary

A typical organised hiking or walking holiday in the Atlas Mountains would last for 8 days and include a visit to one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, the village of Taghia. Taghia is located in the centre of Morocco, about 70 miles to the east of Marrakesh.

On the first day you would arrive in Marrakesh by air and stay in a hotel. The second day would start with a bus journey up into the mountains via Aït M’ hammed, to Zaouia-Ahansal, at a height of 1600m. Here most of the gear would be loaded onto mules, so you would not need to carry too much weight in your rucksack.

The first afternoon of hiking would take you up to the village of Taghia, which, at 1890m is at the bottom of a steep sided limestone valley! This is the spectacular valley of the Assif Ahansal. Assif means river in the local Berber language.

The houses of Taghia village are built on the gentle slopes near the bottom of the valley, whilst the flat flood plain is given over to farming. Accommodation at Taghia and for the next few nights would be camping out in tents.

Taghia, at the bottom of the Valley Assif Ahançal
Taghia, at the bottom of the Valley Assif Ahançal

Gaining Height – Up to the Plateau

The third day would start off with a long, 700m climb, following a winding path up the steep sided valley walls. The climb up would be rewarded with breathtaking views of Taghia village, directly below on the valley floor.

After the steep climb, the hike would continue gently across the plateau towards the collar of Taghboula. The nights camping would take place at Tizi N’Tighboula, at a height of 2900m. The plateaus are home to the nomadic Aït Atta people and their dromedaries. In the summer the Aït Atta bring their flocks up to the pastures to graze.

The fourth day would you would climb up to the collar of Taghboula, the highest point of the expedition at 3100m. From here can be seen shepherds, accompanied of their flocks of goats, sheep or camels. The hike would continue alongside the drained lake of Izourar, where many years ago the river cut a deep valley into plateau.

Izourar the drained lake cuts through the Plateau
Izourar the drained lake cuts through the Plateau

The plateau is dominated to the north by the Djebel Azourki mountain (3677m). The hike would continue along the the drained lake of Izourar. The night’s camping would take place at Assklou n’ nbi. At a height of 2300m, the day’s walking would be largely downhill. Below Assklou n’ nbi is the town of Zaouiat lamzi “assklou not nbi” – “the tree of the prophet”.

A change of scenery would follow on the fifth day of the walking holiday. The hike would continue through small mountain towns and cultivated fields to the beautiful, wide valley of Aït Bougmez. The highest point of the day being the collar of Tizi N’Adazen (2290m), with a final descent into R’Bat (El Hrat), at a height of 1950m.

Aït Atta Nomadic People in the Atlas Mountains
Aït Atta Nomadic People in the Atlas Mountains

Hiking Through the Happy Valley

The final day of hiking would be a descent through the Happy Valley, following the river R’Bat. It is possible to see tracks made by dinosaurs along this remote valley. The night would be spent in a Gite in the small village of Agouti (1815m).

The seventh day would be spent taking a scenic bus journey back to Marrakesh, via the spectacular waterfalls of Ouzoud. The final day would be the flight back home from Marrakesh.

The hiking would be of average level, without notable technical difficulty. It would require a good physical condition and the ability to walk 4 to 6 hours every days. On the third day, due to the rapid gain in height to 3100m, mild feeling of altitude sickness is inevitable.

Hiking in Morocco

Further information about hiking in the Moroccan Atlas region can be found on the website http://espaces-naturel-maroc.com. If you are considering hiking in Morocco, it is advisable to hire a professional mountain guide who can take you on an adventure holiday as part of an organised hiking tour. Brahim Lamkhantar is a professional Moroccan guide who organises expeditions in the Atlas mountains. He can be contacted by telephone 00 212 668400860 or e-mail: bra1pchly@yahoo.fr

If you have been hiking in the Atlas Mountains, in Morocco or Algeria, we would love to know about your experience! Just click on the “comments” link below and let us know!


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