Best time to visit the Atlas Mountains

Best time to visit the Atlas Mountains


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

The most popular time for hiking throughout the Atlas is March-Nov. However, as there is no snow in the Anti-Atlas, you can still enjoy mountain life during Dec-Feb, with sunny days but cold nights. If you can handle hiking in the heat, July and August are hot, but not off the scale desert madness like the rest of Morocco. Todra Gorge is popular year round, so go early in the morning, when the sun also illuminates it perfectly. If you want to summit Toubkal, spring and autumn are best to avoid strenuous, exposed hiking in extreme temperatures.

Things to do in the Atlas Mountains


WHAT TO DO & WHAT NOT TO

Things to do in the
Atlas Mountains…


The Atlas Mountains have the most extraordinary hiking locations. Unlike the Alps, you are walking through truly wild places, with not a road or a cable car to be seen. Hardcore hikers head for Mount Toubkal in the High Atlas, but there is superb walking to be had in the Anti-Atlas too, all year round.
The Atlas Mountains are home for the Berber people, who will be your mountain guides and mentors. So do read up on their culture before you go and remember this lovely fact: The name Berber comes from Roman times, and is Latin for barbarian. The name they give themselves, however, is Amazigh, meaning ‘free people’. When you visit the Atlas Mountains with the Berber, that sense of freedom is infectious.
The Atlas Mountains are the perfect place to seek out a dreamy sleep. It might be under the stars, wild camping on a mountain plateau. Or in a mountain refuge, where mountaineers have laid their heads for generations en route to Toubkal. At the other extreme, you can collapse at an elegant Kasbah, often with their own hammams to finish the day. Kasbahs will always rock you to sleep...

Things not to do in the
Atlas Mountains…


You will want to take photographs everywhere you go in the Atlas Mountains, not just of the landscape but also of the Berber people. But please remember to respect people, always ask permission, give them time to respond and thank them even if they decline.
If you are hiking in the High Atlas, altitude sickness can be an issue, particularly as you hit the nausea territory of around 2,800m. Altitude sickness can hit anyone, so don’t ignore it and follow your tour operator’s advice on acclimatising slowly.
Water is a rare commodity so please don’t waste it. In hammams, for example, buckets are provided to rinse yourself after a scrub. You also need to purify tap water before drinking. Bottled water is widely available, but recycling plastic is impossible in Morocco. And as iodine tablets have been banned in EU, vacation companies no longer hand them out. Bring purification tablets such as Biox Aqua drops with you.

Atlas Mountains travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN MOROCCO

Hammams & when to go to the Atlas Mountains


Simon Clifford from our leading supplier of Atlas Mountains vacations, Exodus:

“Make sure you visit a traditional Hammam. There are lots of tourist friendly ones, but they’re more like western spas. If you’re not lying on the floor, you’re not in a traditional hammam!”
“I think the best time to visit the Atlas is April, May and September, it this time it’s warm but not too hot, and the highest peaks will have a little snow, adding to the beauty of the views on offer."

Trekking & shopping tips


Simon Clifford, from our supplier Exodus: “Climbing Mount Toubkal is quite challenging and we wouldn’t recommend it to first time climbers, or people not used to walking. A really nice introduction to walking in the Altas Mountains would be a trip based in the remote village of Tijhza for the week, staying in a basic gite, taking day walks up into the mountains each day.”
We love this random tip from Andrew Appleyard, also from the excellent Exodus: “Word of warning: don’t buy a large tagine cooking pot - they don’t fit in any conventional European cooker!”

Atlas Mountains travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR TRAVELLERS

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Atlas Mountains travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation.
“Take clothes for all occasions! A sun hat is essential but also warmer clothes and a good raincoat, as once out of the city and at altitude, the weather was more varied.” – Rosie Welch

“For camping in the Anti-Atlas, my sleep system was absolutely the best thing. I had my very expensive Exped down sleep mat, my down sleeping bag and a thermal liner. I was so comfy and had such a good night’s sleep.” – Linda Sankey (read more about Linda's trip)

“Don't forget the suncream – the mountain sun can be deceptive! (And cream the back of your hands – everyone I met missed that trick). You do need a guide for at least some of the walks because the mule tracks aren't always obvious and the maps aren't detailed enough to help. They can be booked at the guesthouse though - so see how you feel when you get there. Definitely have two or three days up here. I felt sorry for the day trippers to Imlil from Marrakech who were missing out on so much because of time and tour constraints.” – Martin Stott

“Don't leave it too late for November bookings if you want to enjoy autumn colours in the Atlas. We were just in time but probably late October/early November is best.” – Evin Dilber

“Take the fact you will be in a Muslim country seriously and no vests/skimpy tee-shirts and shorts for women; bring a book(s) to read; try and get as much loose change (coins) in dirhams as you can as in remote places they find in hard to change large notes.” – Amanda Dudman
Photo credits: [Temp chart: Scott Presly] [Hammam advice: Andy Wright] [Trekking tips: wonker] [Advice on the best time to go: dyonis] [Shopping tips: Geraint Otis Warlow] [Help desk banner: Alexander Cahlenstein] [Review 1 - Irene Mitchell: babeltravel] [Review 2 - Greig Fitzpatrick: Julia Maudlin]
Written by Catherine Mack
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