The High Atlas, often referred to as the Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, forms a sort of wall that keeps precipitation localized to certain valleys. The Draa Valley and the Ourika Valley are two regions that receive an ample supply of rainfall annually, which results in strong agricultural-based local populations. The rivers that run through the area are apparent at the surface level especially in spring, but disappear once mid-summer sets. The rivers or wadis continue to supply fresh water to springs and irrigation systems through underground channels. Environmentally speaking, the Moroccan government is attempting to re-establish what the French changed, a system of low water consumption planting. With less rainfall than ever before, farmers are attempting to sustain their land for future generations.
Walking or trekking in any regions of the High Atlas is a memorable venture. In all the ranges, it is a good idea to take a local guide along with you, especially in areas around Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains. The central mountain range is a great place to explore if you enjoy forests and the occasional troop of Barbary Macaque or indigenous populations of apes found only in Morocco and in Gibraltar.
As mentioned, the High Atlas is divided into three main ridges throughout the country. The Western High Atlas is the most popular for tour companies and tourists alike. The area boasts a 4,167-meter peak that requires trekking in the snow from November through June. While developers talk about the regions plans for tourism, local guides and travel companies offer a variety of services. Some eco tour Morocco companies use low-impact tourism in Morocco in order to maintain the ecosystem and local life of the area.
The Central High Atlas continues northward and differs from the above in that it contains gorges, valleys, and canyons. The most popular are the Todra Gorge and Dades Gorge. Rock climbing and trekking are quite popular in these areas. While the area is cooler in the summer due to its altitude, the sparse vegetation reveals the sweltering conditions during the dry season.
The Eastern High Atlas contains other peaks that compete with that of Jbel Toubkal. Both Jbel Ayachi and Jbel Saghro offer some amazing hiking, but are dangerous in the early spring months when avalanches are common. Extreme skiers frequent the area in winter in order to enjoy the difficult terrain and splendid views of the surrounding countryside. In this area, the Atlasaurus was discovered, which has given the area some fame. The key discovery provided a missing link between dinosaurs in Africa and the Americas.