When you hear about Morocco you probably hear about cities such as Casablanca, Fez, and Rabat; or, you’ve heard of camel treks in the sahara, trekking the High Atlas Mountains or even riding waves near Agadir or Essaouira. Such active-adventures available with Journey Beyond Travel are not solely limited to trekking, however. Read on to learn more this vibrant and verdant (and brown) country has to offer its guests.
Trekking in the High Atlas Mountains is certainly something you will not experience anywhere else. The mountain regions are largely unexplored with uncharted villages and old mule trails. The Berber people open their homes to trekkers on their way around the various valleys and gorges for tea and snacks. Sites like Jbel Toubkal and M’Goun are amazing in their height above canyons below. Cascades hide in the Rif Mountains, waiting to be discovered by trekkers. There’s just so much to see and do in such a grand country.
One method of touring these lands without being on foot is camel rides. Camel rides–a.k.a. camel safari, camel train or camel outtings–allow for one to five nights in the Moroccan countryside; most of these camel trains take guests to the desert and back. Your four legged pal will cart your gear (and you if you’d like) as you travel through the desert or up through the green valleys. Most often the camels remain in the desert and are quite used to the routes and terrain.
Other non-camel tours use buggies and 4X4 for tours over and around the Sahara Desert dunes. The Sahara Desert is a vast countryside with minimal plant and wildlife. When you head towards the Anti-Atlas region you have the High Atlas Mountains rising in the distance offering a panorama that can’t be matched.
In the desert region, sand dune snowboarding (dune boarding) is one of the more up and coming adventures to try. It is unlike anything you will ever do. Sand can be as soft as snow on an alpine hill without the rocks and trees to get in your way. It is possible to do flips, jump off tall sand dunes, and master whatever trick you’d like to try.
The desert is only one region of Morocco to explore. The Atlas treks is yet another. For travelers who enjoy water you have two options: The Mediterranean or the Atlantic Coast. The Med can be a bit rough for swimming, and generally does not have beaches–they are rocky, but spending a few hours walking along with the cliffs rising above you is not to be missed. More plant life in this region allows for the red earth to be covered by greenery offsetting the blandness that it would otherwise be.
If you want sandy beaches the Atlantic Coast is best. On the Atlantic Coast of Morocco you have options much different from trekking up hills with Barbary Monkeys hiding in the trees. You can windsurf, surf waves, or even scuba dive on the coast. There are schools and camps to take advantage of in this region. These areas make great escapes for a Morocco family holiday as everyone will have something to enjoy, from beach sitting and reading to golf to theaters and plenty of cafes and restaurants. When visiting the Rif Mountains, do not forget to stop by the Grottes de Hercules.
This “Grottes” or cave was supposedly a site the mythical Hercules found himself in one night. What makes it especially interesting is the mouth of the cave. It appears like a reverse map of Africa. Other caves throughout this region can take you to the first site of the oldest homosapien ever to be dug up.
Camping is available at a number of locales. With more than five nature reserves in Morocco you have several campsites to choose from. You do have to get permission from the camp site owner in order to camp, but you can set up your tent just about anywhere. The bigger cities have designated sites as do the parks. These official sites will have water, electricity, and even grocery stores nearby.
When you go off the beaten path such as the High Atlas Mountains you can expect less amenities to be available. If you have camping vehicles you should expect to pay around Dh15 or more for the sites. Shower facilities are also going to cost a small sum.
We’ve spoken a little about the High Atlas Mountains and trekking. During the winter some of the trekking experiences are unavailable due to the dangers of snow. Still, others become available as ski resorts. Though the ski resorts do not have long runs like you expect from the Alps you can still have a great experience.
by Sam Mitchell