One of the highlights to a holiday to Morocco is taking in the beautiful scenery: A seasoning of California’s topography, Arizona’s rocky variance and Florida’s temperatures gives would-be visitors a vicarious notion of Morocco. One of the finest ways to take it all in–slowly and at your own pace–is a Morocco bike tour through, around and in Morocco.
Cycling in Morocco is as if you’re taking a step back in time. Pathways wind through ancient towns where heritage and tradition is still as much a part of daily life as a hundred years ago–mules carrying loads of sticks and grain; hanoots (small shops) selling carpets, tea kettles and metal and plastic wares; men smiling, staring, listening and rough-housing. There’s a part of Morocco that has always been around, almost timeless.
Cycling trips are comfortable yet adventurous at the same time. Generally, you will cycle in Morocco for a certain number of hours or kilometers, and then jump into a support vehicle to carry you the rest of the way. Cycling in Morocco can take Morocco holiday travelers on voyages that last one day, one week or more. Even the faintest of roads are paved, thanks to the French. However, veering off-road is quite possible and not recommended without a Morocco tour operator and guide.
A great way to embark on a cycling trek through Morocco is with a guided tour. These tour guides know the layout of the land and which roads lead where. These are two important elements for navigating through the backyards of Morocco. Plus, if body language and grunting don’t get your point across, then at least your guide can help you order that much needed Coke.
A guided cycling tour of Morocco may begin in the North through towns and villages. One of your first stops might be Fez. From here, the tour continues on to other destinations, such as Meknes and Moulay Idriss. This latter, quaint town sits atop a hill shaped like a sleeping camel. It used to be illegal for visitors to stay after dark. Recently, however, such limitations have been uplifted. Farther down the road, a cycle traveler can reach the Ancient Roman Ruins of Volubilis, part of Morocco’s Roman past.
Another cycling trek destination point in the north side is the Rif Mountains, near Chefchaouen. If you so desire, you can take a one-, two- or multi-day hike in Chefchaouen. If you wish for a tucked away mountain/hillside town in this mountains, Chefchaouen is it. Jewish settlers came to this town during the 1930s and painted legendary blue walls that later created a maze. For this reason, the town has a certain serenity and hospitality to it. Take a bike trek or simply hiking trek in Chefchaouen to take in all the picturesque scenery.
If northern Morocco holds your attention, the try a Morocco cycle tour through Al-Hoceima National Park. Other tours may veer west towards Asilah or Moulay Bousselham. These destination points may require some time if done on an individual basis, however. The guided cycling treks bring support vehicles along on the journey. This affords the luxury of traveling rocky terrain that would take days on a bike to be covered in mere minutes.
For a sense of Moroccan adventure, take a guided cycling tour through the south of the country. One such adventure starts in the magical city of Marrakech. The architecture offered up by this city is an adventure in and of itself. Just west of Marrakech is the city of Imlil, a hiking and trekking Morocco destination, and the jumping off point for Mount Toubkal treks.
Make a stop at Ouarzazate for a relaxing chicken and prune tagine lunch or a snack of sweet vegetable couscous before heading back out on the road. The road leads towards the Dades Gorge and the Torda Gorge. Both are world renowned for the scenic views of rocks and canyon formations. You can go rock climbing, hiking or simply walk through the ginormous canyons.
Each of these destination points are enhanced by the services of guided cycle tours. The services of these guided tours will take the hassle and worry out of getting lost or having a mechanical problem with a bicycle.
For those willing and able to go it alone, there are several cycle trails scattered throughout Morocco. The first one is the Kasbah Trail that takes riders through a natural Moroccan setting. Destination stops along the way include the Draa valley, Timbuktu and onward to Jbel Sarhro plateau.
From there, the trail winds upwards to the High Atlas Mountain range. Here, cyclers will come across two world renowned gorges and continue down into the Valley of a thousand Kasbahs. The Kasbah Trail comes to an end at the Valley of the Roses. You can buy natural rose water here. On the way off the trail, cyclers are treated to scenic views afforded by the Berber villages. Mud built houses and children tending to livestock are the daily norm in these villages.
Another Moroccan trail worth traveling down is the Nomad Trail. Highlights of this pathway include the Jbel Sarhro, Draa valley and Ziz valley. These spots provide a beautiful backdrop for a winter cycle trek. As the trail moves through the Draa valley, vibrant colors are played before the traveler as the river slowly disappears into the Sahara desert. Turn east for a dramatic sunset view at Erg Chebbi, among the highest sand dune in the Sahara, with its famous Erg Chigaga.
Another amazing cycle trail is the Tuareg Trail. This travels the south western side of the country. For that reason, it is a great cycle trail to embark on during the winter. A vibrant mix of fields runs alongside secluded mountain villages. Each of these trails offer something a bit different, but inherently the same, in Morocco.
Whether choosing to embark on a biking in Morocco trek with a guided tour or going at it solo, the picturesque views afforded by this method of transportation are unforgettable. Traveling across Morocco on a bicycle is one of the best ways to soak in all that the sympatico yet charming region has to offer.
by Sam Mitchell