Atlas Mountains travel guide
2 MINUTE SUMMARY
As if Morocco couldnít get more interesting geographically, with the Mediterranean and Atlantic on one side, and the Sahara on the other, the Atlas Mountains spread their greatness right down the middle. Like never the twain shall meet. Divided into the three sections, the High Atlas in central Morocco, south of Marrakech, are home to Mt. Toubkal - the highest peak in North Africa - and its eponymous national park. These drop down to the lower peaks of the Anti-Atlas further south, where you can hike to peaks such as Jebel Aklim (2,531m) with spectacular views across to the biggies in the north. The Middle Atlas in the far northwest are the backdrop for Fez and Meknes, more set up for daytrips than full on mountain immersion. One thing all the mountain ranges have in common: The Berber people. Traditional, trusting and tuned in to sustainable, mountain living, they guide you into their world with expertise and nobility.
Find out more in our Atlas Mountains travel guide.
The Atlas Mountains are...
the height of Moroccan greatness. With valleys and villages that transport you to ancient times.
The Atlas Mountains are not...
far away. A four hour flight from the UK takes you into another world of Berbers and beauty. Mountains and meditation.
Atlas Mountains map & highlights
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME
At last, Moroccan tourism has stretched beyond the souks and seaside and woken up to the wonders of the Atlas Mountains that dominate their interior. An exquisite, elevated wilderness, serious hikers like to take on Mt. Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa, staying in mountain refuges or Berber gites along the way. Others like to muse the mountains in cosier surroundings, staying in Kasbahs overlooking olive filled valleys, taking gentler hikes with muleteers to carry your bags, with a hot hammam waiting for you at the end of the day. If ever there was a place to stop carrying the world on your shoulders, itís the Atlas.
Thereís nothing like an adobe abode in the Atlas. Kasbah actually means citadel, as originally many of them were fortresses which segued surreptitiously into the landscape as lookout posts for possible invaders. Today they are synonymous with stunning mountain accommodation, often with their own hammams, treks and Berber guides. Perfect if you want a blissful bed after a day of Atlas adoration.
Climb Jebel Aklim (2,531m), one of the highest peaks in the Anti-Atlas Mountains, from where you have spectacular views across to the High Atlas. You can take on the Aklim Range circuit through villages such as Irtem and M'dint, aka City of Cats, which pop up like colourful oases surrounded by palms, almond or olive trees. It feels timeless here, and yet the Berber people, still leading very traditional lifestyles, are beyond welcoming.
Moroccoís second highest peak, many people add it on to a Mount Toubkal trekking vacation. With two summits, Timzguida and Ras Ouanoukrim, most aim for the former because of its huge dome peak with plenty of space to take in the views. At the southern end of the High Atlas, see the land drops dramatically down to desert plains, with the Anti-Atlas rising out of them Ė a beautiful sand to snow effect in winter.
Jebel Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa and mecca of mountaineering. At 4,167m, it is a strenuous trek in all seasons, donít take it on without expert mountain guides. In winter, serious alpinism techniques come into play, with vacations available to train and guide you. Gateway town is Imlil, and the climb usually takes two to four days, with different routes available, staying overnight at mountain refuges or wild camping.
Tizi n'Tacht Pass
In the High Atlas, this is one of the sought after high points, often at the beginning of a walking vacation, itís first time you realise you are far from the Plains of Marrakech. At 2,000m, you have views over the burnished mountains that await, as well as the rewards of a descent into the Azaden Valley, famous for its juniper forests and, always a sight to behold in the arid Atlas, the Aourwiz waterfall.
Aka Todgha Gorge, this canyon is located in the eastern part of the High Atlas near the town of Tinerhir. A hiking haven, the pink and orange limestone cliff walls are aglow not only with the sunlight that catches it at various points, but also with the buzz of serious climbers, who discovered these 300m cliffs long ago. This and the nearby, and divine Dades Valley are both rose growing oases and kasbah central.