While many people know Morocco for its labyrinthian cities, bubbling tajines, or never-ending shopping options, there’s another resource that makes this country so appealing. For people who would rather get away from the cities, some of the best hiking opportunities in North Africa can be found in Morocco. If a grueling multi-day trek is your dream come true, or you’d prefer a leisure walk along country trails, or maybe something in between you can find the ideal trek. To uncover some of the best trekking in Morocco we’re sharing some of our best kept secrets.
Known as Morocco’s little Switzerland it makes sense that this area would have some great trekking opportunities. Just like the Swiss, those living here love hiking and trekking and make use of the ample trails and wide open spaces. The Middle Atlas mountains aren’t as tall or well known as the High Atlas but have their own charm. Within just a few minutes of downtown Ifrane you can enter the forests and enjoy a trek. In this region, wildlife like the Barbary apes and wild boars call the cedar forests home. Although you are over 1500m altitude several trails are easy to walk, level, and not overly strenuous. There are well worn paths but why not try one of our secret walks instead?
This little blue city has gotten a lot of press recently because of its unique color, there’s more to do than explore the monochromatic medina. Many guidebooks hail the “ras al maa” (head of the water), a very small waterfall that is a short walk from the center of town and popular with locals during hot months, as a must visit. Instead go a bit further. The city itself is quite hilly but as you exit the medina and toward the Hotel Atlas you’ll see a hill that can be climbed for an amazing view. To go even deeper, Chefchaouen is a great starting point for a trek through Talassemtane National Park. Visiting Akchour and God’s Bridge are two popular destinations in this region for trekking. While there are no prohibitions to trekking on your own, it is advisable to always hike with a knowledgeable local guide as conditions in the mountain regions can be unpredictable and change quickly.
From the Middle Atlas we move south to the towering giants of the High Atlas. Day trips from Marrakesh often take visitors to hike the waterfalls in the Ourika Valley or visit the Cascades d’Ouzoud but the small village of Ouirgane is a wonderful destination for something different. Trekkers can hike the Toubkal range, situated 1,000 meters above the village or opt for an easier walk at a lower altitude to discover the local hand-worked salt mines, almond trees, and variety of bird species. Nearby it’s also possible to visit the Tin Mal Mosque, one of only two mosques in the country open to non-Muslims. Include a visit with your trek to round out your experience.
Toubkal National Park
The summit of Mt. Toubkal is the highest in North Africa at a whopping 4,167 meters, making it an admirable trekking accomplishment for anyone. It’s also worth noting that because of this the location is visited by tens of thousands of tourists yearly – many just come for a day or two, while others opt to stay longer. Many multi-day hikes start from the village of Imlil. It’s possible to ascend Toubkal in two-days but by spreading the trek out longer allows your body to acclimate more easily and you’ll be rewarded with some breathtaking scenery. There are some steep climbs and trekkers should be aware and prepared ahead of time. But that final vista? Totally worth it!
This mountain is the second highest in the country and situated between the plains of Morocco and the Sahara desert in the Ait Bougmez Valley. Hiking here is largely restricted during winter months as the remote location and weather makes trekking potentially hazardous. Trekking here is ideal for those who want a multi-day experience in an area that is largely untouched. Although it is only a few hundred kilometers from large cities like Marrakech and Fes, it feels much further. Along with a guide, porter, and trusty mules tackling this adventure will not only be a physical accomplishment but one of the most authentic experiences in rural Morocco that you’ll have. If this sounds intriguing be sure to read this first hand account of making the trek.
Getting into the Mountains
These are just a few of the great destinations for trekking in Morocco. There are dozens more depending on the length of time you’d like to spend on the trail and intensity you desire. We at Journey Beyond Travel specialize in private and group treks in the Atlas as well as in Mgoun National Park. To begin planning your adventure, get in touch with our team or you can even schedule a call. For more research, you can check out this Wikipedia article about the High Atlas, as well as this one about Toubkal. And, if you are looking for shorter trekking experiences, you can contact the Toubkal Peaks Trek Company who can help you arrange a stellar day or multi-day outing in the High Atlas or walking with Gite Talassemtane if you’ll be exploring the Rif Mountains for a few days.