high atlas mountains moroccoMorocco is home to high mountain ranges, wide expanses of stunning deserts, green oases, national parks filled with wildlife and miles of coastline. The array of natural wonders in the country ensure that there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Though it may be difficult to narrow down the prize attractions on your next trip to Morocco, here are three natural wonders that shouldn’t be missed:

Todra Gorge

Located on the remote, eastern side of the High Atlas Mountains, Todra Gorge can be difficult to explore unless you are on a trekking or climbing tour of Morocco. The gorge was carved out of the earth, and the canyon floor runs several miles through the Atlas Mountains. The imposing canyon walls make the Todra Gorge one of the most stunning rock formations in all of North Africa.

There is a road that runs the length of the gorge, and you can drive all the way through it if you have access to a vehicle. About halfway through the Todra Gorge there is a hotel. Hikers and climbers are welcome to stay here or at one of the many campsites along the canyon floor.

Arguably the most spectacular section of the gorge is beyond the hotel in the final half mile of the canyon where the rock formations begin to narrow. In some places, the canyon is only 30 feet wide. The walls are smooth and rise impressively on both sides. Sunlight struggles to reach this part of the valley, and the river water is ice cold.

At the end of the gorge the canyon suddenly opens into a clearing and the river runs freely. From here, the villages of Tinerhir, Ait Hani, Tamtattouchte and Imilchil are easy to reach. To best enjoy the Todra Gorge, arrive before 8:00 a.m. and stay through the early afternoon when the sunlight is at its best.

Toubkal National Park

Trekking through this national park is drastically different than bustling Marrakesh, which is located less than 50 miles to the north. Located in the center of the High Atlas Mountains, Toubkal National Park is nearly 250,000 acres in size. It is the oldest national park in Morocco.

A variety of flora and fauna flourish in Toubkal National Park, in part due to its climate. Large oaks, pines and junipers and several herbaceous plants used by the local Berber tribes are found in the park’s forests. Toubkal National Park enjoys warm, sunny weather throughout the year, though snow falls in the higher altitudes during the winter. Make the most of your time here by visiting in the summer when all of the trekking trails are available and cleared of ice and snow.

High Atlas Valleys

What goes up must come down, and that is the case with trekking in the High Atlas Mountains. As beautiful as the mountains’ peaks are, the valleys offer a warm welcome to trekkers who are interested in spotting Moroccan wildlife. Mountain sheep, Barbary monkeys, eagles, falcons, lizards and snakes all make their home in the valley regions.

The High Atlas valleys are also home to the local people, who often open their doors in the summer to trekkers. Tucked between the towering mountain faces, you’ll have the chance to share in their culture and taste the fresh foods they’ve prepared. Though the natural wonders of Morocco are fascinating, many visitors to the country remember their time with the locals as being the most meaningful.

Posted by JoAnna Haugen, managing editor at Journey Beyond Travel and author of Kaleidoscopic Wandering.

Photo by dave.