A guide to exploring the Moroccan Atlas Mountains

A guide to exploring the Moroccan Atlas Mountains

Posted by Eyes of Lady Wimbledon | 18 July 2023 | Magazine, Travel

With the North African nation of Morocco experiencing record tourist arrivals during the start of 2023, the country has well and truly moved past the staggering dip it experienced during Covid. Now, while urban areas such as the likes of Marrakesh, Fez, and Chefchaouen might be some of the most frequented spots in the country, there’s a far more expansive wonder that’s an absolute must-see for anyone who enjoys marvelling at nature: the Atlas Mountains.

In this guide, we’ll give you all the information you need about the Atlas Mountains, including where they are, the local culture, the best time to visit, and the top points of interest.

Where are the Atlas Mountains?

A popular option for cycling holiday groups and hikers, the Atlas Mountains stretch diagonally for 2,500km across the Moroccan interior, Algeria, and Tunisia, beginning on the edge of the Atlantic and ending at the Med.

Morocco is home to the High Atlas Mountains, arguably the most dramatic and awe-inspiring area of the range. Home to dizzying peaks, lush valleys, and rolling hills. Visitors can also visit the southern Anti-Atlas Mountains, known for their alien landscapes, and the lesser-frequented but still beautiful Middle Atlas.

Explore the Amazigh Culture

Inhabiting the Atlas Mountains are the Amazigh people (once pejoratively known as the Berbers), an agricultural group that has called the valleys home for millennia.

Living both nomadically and based in villages nestled within the mountain valleys, many Berber settlements are only accessible via camel or donkey and have therefore resisted modern cultural influences.

Amazigh culture is very welcoming, but it’s important to visit using a guide based in the villages themselves, so you can experience the culture while benefiting the local economy.

The best time to visit the Atlas Mountains

Summers in the Atlas Mountains, and Morocco in general, become particularly punishing during the summer months, with temperatures reaching highs of nearly 40C. Much more comfortable conditions can be experienced between April and June or September to May, particularly if you are visiting to enjoy hiking, cycling, or other strenuous activities.

Places to visit in the Atlas Mountains

There are all sorts of places to visit in the Atlas, though here are some of our favourites:

  • Ourika Valley – Home to waterfalls, orchards and amazing views, the Ourika Valley is a hiker’s paradise.
  • Mount Toukbal – The tallest mountain in Morocco at 4,167m, Toukbal is a must for hardcore hikers, taking between two to three days to ascend.
  • Imlil – Base camp for Mount Toubkal, Imlil is nevertheless a captivating place to visit, with awesome views and a great culture.
  • Jebel Sirwa – Located in the Anti-Atlas, Jebel Sirwa features a Mars-like landscape of wind-blasted rock formations and stark peaks.

Have you ever visited the Atlas Mountains? Let us know what you think about this interesting place in the comments section below.

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