There’s no doubt about it: Taking a cycling tour through Morocco will certainly pique your friends’ attention. Not only will the journey prove to be a great story, but a bike holiday is also the perfect way to discover the culture, adventure and mystery of this country.
Morocco, with its deep historical past and mysterious air, offers an array of bustling city activity, vibrant colors, quiet desert landscapes and unforgettable experiences. There are mountain trails to explore, crowded streets to navigate and small villages to cycle through. What this means is that you’ll never be bored when it comes to two-wheeled sightseeing.
While it is possible to visit Morocco on bike and put together your own trip, many who have done this before are quick to point out that the maps are not ideal for this sort of adventure. There are few facilities to stop at and people to ask if you get lost. If you thrive on spontaneous surprises, this is the kind of adventure for you. But, if you’d prefer to enjoy the scenery with a guided group, there are many outfitters available to meet your specific needs.
For those who want a bit more structure for their bike tour, a well-rounded Morocco travel experience will take about 10 days. Get acquainted with one of Morocco’s most famous cities first: Marrakech. There are several biking outfitters in the city who can provide information about the cycling adventures that begin in this 1,000-year-old city. The city pulses with energy, providing the perfect atmosphere to start your trip right.
Indeed, the stained ochre color of Marrakech is befitting of the treasures you will find inside, but that’s really just the beginning. Smell the cumin wafting out of the walled Medina, then make your way by bike or foot behind these walls. An old town with very narrow streets that criss and cross, the overcrowded markets and alluring alleys with smoke and secrets will tantalize you with what waits inside.
After a city adventure you will be transported to the mountain ranges of the High and Middle Atlas. This is where your off-road adventure begins. Bike paths here consist of old roads that are actually quite prehistoric and mountains with flat tops that have not only primitive dirt roads but also simple trails that the locals still use for transportation.
When you are traveling by bike in the Atlas Mountains, you will likely only encounter Berber people on your trip. This particular group of people have lived in the area since Neolithic times. You will sleep and eat dinner in their villages; don’t forget to drink some local-flavored mint tea before laying your head down under the stars for a good night’s sleep.
For the more outdoorsy type, go for the ultimate cycling adventure, but employ the services of a biking outfitter. You’ll still be cycling in the Atlas Mountains, but the extremes in elevation are significantly greater. From high mountain passes to deep valleys, a typical bike jaunt of this type will usually take you from the northeast area of Imilchil to North Africa’s highest peak, Toubkal. Of course you won’t be the first to traverse the area (the Berbers were here first, remember) and your guide will likely lead you along an array of mule tracks and tiny trails traversing from village to village.
Regardless of your skill level, cycling is still an outdoor activity that will get your blood pumping, and that is no exception in Morocco. If you decide to experience the country by bike, you will be rewarded with some of the greatest views in Morocco that are otherwise difficult to reach by vehicle.
When considering a cycling trip in Morocco, think about the terrain and what you can endure before solidifying your plans. If you’d like to see the country on bike but are nervous of your skill level, you might be interested in knowing that most biking tour companies have trucks that follow along—usually Land Rovers—prepared to help if needed. Many tour companies build in cultural highlights to the trips, including a steam bath at the Hammam in Tiznit and time to haggle over carpets, silver and trinkets in souks located throughout the country. But if you go solo, you have time to build in whatever it is that you are most interested in seeing and experiencing.
Whether you choose to explore Morocco by bike with a tour company or design your own itinerary, your days of cycling are sure to be followed by nights sleeping under the stars. In Morocco, it’s not only possible but absolutely expected and accepted.
Posted by JoAnna Haugen, managing editor at Journey Beyond Travel and author of Kaleidoscopic Wandering.