From wind-swept desert expanses and rocky peaks ripping through the horizon to serene sea coasts and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, some would argue that there is no better place in the world to witness the contrasts of natural beauty than Morocco. Many tourists come to Morocco for the culture and food, but many others rightly come to enjoy these natural wonders. If you’re unsure where or how to best take in Morocco’s natural highlights, here are a few places to begin a nature lover’s outdoor experience.

Moroccan Landscape

National Parks

Talassemtane National ParkThere are ten national parks scattered throughout Morocco. The oldest, most visited and perhaps best known is Toubkal National Park in the High Atlas Mountains, about 70km from Marrakech. This park is a well-known destination for hikers and skiers, and it also has several petroglyphs, or rock carvings, dating back several thousand years.

Khenifiss National Park is located on the southwestern coast of Morocco near Laayoune. The surrounding area is very rural and on the border of the Western Sahara, so caution should be exercised if planning a visit to this location. The biggest lagoon on the Moroccan coast is located within the park, and it serves as an important bird nesting ground for a large number of migratory birds. During the winter season, as many as 20,000 birds can be found in the lagoon area. Bird watchers from all over the world come to see these animals both in rural and urban environments. Visit Marrakech or Fez in the winter and you’re sure to find white storks nesting in the high perches of mosques, palaces, and ruins.

Step into the Sahara

Many people who make Morocco their destination of choice are sure to include a desert trek.

road between Zagora and Tinerhir

The majority of desert trips depart from Zagora or M’hamid, both at the edge of the desert. These cities are an eight-to-nine hour drive from Marrakech, through switchback mountain roads. Alternately, you can fly to Ouarzazzate and then drive to either of these two cities, a total drive time of about three hours. If natural, rustic scenery is what you’re after then this drive is worth it. Stopping off in small Berber villages, watching the scenery change from brown and sandy, to green or snow covered, and then to the rocky sands of the Sahara is all part of the experience.

When the edge of the Sahara is reached, camel treks and camping are arguably the most popular activities, however, if this isn’t for you some other options to consider include 4×4 tours, riding quad bikes and buggies, sand boarding, or camping without camels. Arguably the most breathtaking sight to see? The star studded Saharan night. With no light pollution, the stars stretch across the entire horizon creating a dome of stars – nature’s planetarium.  Please keep in mind, you should NEVER go into the Sahara Desert without a guide and support. A qualified and licensed operator such as Journey Beyond Travel can help you arrange the logistics before, during and after your desert excursion while making sure you are safe and have the best experience possible.

Slowing Down

mountain biking in MoroccoWhile some people opt to visit as many places in Morocco as possible, there are options for a slower paced visit. Hiking and biking in the mountain ranges is quite easy to do and very enjoyable. The trails in northern Morocco are one of the best-kept secrets in Morocco. While many hikers take on Mt. Toubkal in southern Morocco, fewer hike or bike the Rif Mountains from Chefchaouen to Bab Taza. This region is home to lush vegetation and plentiful wildlife. Camping areas and low-cost lodging can be found easily.



Enjoying the Water

Morocco is blessed with two lengthy coastlines on the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea as well as several inland rivers. The ultimate in relaxation and natural enjoyment for some visitors may be soaking up sunshine and watching the waves lapping the sand. 

kitesurfing in morocco

Kite surfing is a relatively new sport but one in which Morocco has worldwide recognition. The southern coast, between Agadir and Essaouaira, is home to some of the best kite surfing in the world.  A surfboard is rigged with a wind sail while riders stand on the board and use the sail to guide the board and control the pull of the wind. There are many outfitters that provide lessons to the novice and rentals to the more advanced. Kayaking and whitewater rafting are popular on the inland rivers. The Ahansal River in the Middle Atlas is a great destination for kayaking, while the Ourika River in the High Atlas is a well-known whitewater rafting destination.

One of Morocco’s biggest industries is fishing. While many make their living via this activity, tourists are welcome to try their hand at fishing as well. On the inland lakes and rivers, it’s possible to catch perch, bass, eels, carp, pike and others. If ocean fishing is more your style, some of the fish you may catch are sea perch, tuna, swordfish, barracuda and marlin.

If shopping, museums, and food tours aren’t at the top of your vacation list, there’s dozens of ways to enjoy the natural beauty of Morocco. We can help you plan your next adventure whether it’s hiking the Atlas, admiring the birds at Khenifiss, or watching the stars in the Sahara. Our team of professional, experienced guides and drivers are waiting to make your adventure dreams a reality.

Photos from: walter_rw, chigley, Kariido85MrHicks46 and brendanbank