Atlas mountains also known as High Atlas is considered as the greatest mountains range of North Africa. The range is stretch across morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The mountain range covers some of the beautiful ranges of Morocco. The range is mostly populated with the Berbers and the life in general here is very far away from the city life. Although Marrakech lie lying under the foothills of Atlas Mountain. You can see the snow peaks of Mighty Atlas in winter from almost every big Raid or from hotel. It is known as the trekkers den because around the year many trekkers come here to climb the Mountain particularly its highest peak Jebel Toubkal which is around 4170 km tall. Only professional and experienced climbers climb that peak because it is quite steep and at the top you will get very limited amount of Oxygen about 50%. Apart from Mountain Climbers other tourist visit this place to unwind their selves from the fast life of City. Although Marrakech is considered as the top tourist destination in morocco but if you want to enjoy beautiful and stunning views and want to see the raw culture of Morocco than go to Atlas Mountains and try to roam around off the beaten path to experience it in full form. It is preferred to hire a guide to explore other peaks and hamlets of Atlas Mountains. Also, it is advised to book your tour from some trusted travel operator like us. Right now, we are the most 5 star reviewed Moroccan tour company so you can Book your Atlas Mountain Tour with us or subscribe our Youtube Channel to see amazing travel videos on Morocco just like the one you can see below.
If you like adventures and want to explore the top of Morocco which is Mount Toubkal which we Discussed earlier than you must hire some experienced guide and for that just Contact us or some experienced tour operators back in Marrakech. If you are not interested in trekking than there are various towns and valleys with some exceptional architecture where you can go with your family and friends to enjoy picnic like Ourika valley. The distance from mount toubkal to Ourika is 60km which means a drive of approximately 2 hrs. There are many other valleys around Atlas and they are although not very popular like Imlil or Ourika but considered as the hidden gem like from the east of Ijoukak you can land on Agoundis valley which is another way to reach the refuge camp of Toubkal but keep in mind that it will take at least 30 to 40 hrs of trekking to reach there so this route is only for those who loves walking and seek for an adventure. Amizmiz is another Valley at which Berbers from the Atlas come and sell their stuff like cattle, sheep, cows, clothes on every Tuesday. Amizmiz is not a popular destination of tourist but if you want to explore berber culture and want to meet them personally than you can visit this valley. This valley also acts as a base of mountain biking in the Mighty Atlas.
Another hidden valley is Ait Zitoun and considered as best to prepare yourself for trekking. You can arrange mules and other necessary food supplies here with the help of local guide. Also, 23 km north of northeast of Amizmiz is Lalla Takerkoust which is considered as the best alternate to Amizmiz and Ait Zitoun. Lalla Takerkoust is best known for its scenery because views of the Lalla takerkoust lake from the surrounding mountains is stunning. Another popular base for trekking is Imlil which is considered as the gateway to Atlas Mountains. The town has less the than 6000 people and most of the people there are associated with the business of trekking and travel. You will find number of guides, mule owners in that area. Another hidden valley is Ait Mizane Valley which is just 5 min walk from Imlil. Do not forget to go in Aroumd berber village for lunch which is in the largest village of Ait Mizane Valley. At Aroumd many trekking companies along with trekkers stay as on overnight stop. Finally, if you are looking for some quitter place than you can go to Azzaden Valley which is located at the south of Imlil. You can also reach there from imlil by just walking but it can take up-to 5 to 6 hours.
Although the official control on High Atlas Mountains is by the government of Morocco but till this date the involvement to state in the villages of High Atlas is very minimal. If you spend couple of days in the Mountains and explore different villages than you will easily understand the customs and culture of Atlas People. The oldest Inhabitants of Atlas Mountains are Berbers. The dominant religion there is Islam since the Arab Invaded morocco. Most unique thing is their Ahouache dance where both men and women participate. You will be amazed to see their houses which are made from clay on the rocky slopes.
If we talk about gender than although the society is male dominant but much of the heavier lifting is done by the women like women are responsible for herding and gazing goats and sheep. They work on fields with men and also prepare food at home. Men are mostly responsible for irrigation and craft work. They are also responsible for all buying and selling of goods.
When you visit the villages of Atlas than you will be astonished by the welcoming nature of the Berbers and also you will be amazed that may people there understand and speak English or French. The only area where there is a chance that you will feel irritated is around jebel Toubkal because guides and kids will persuade you to buy their services or stuff by them.
You will find number of wild plants and animals in Atlas Mountains like at the top of the slopes you will find wild plants and grass like blue tussock grass which can grew up to 1 meters and contains soft bluish leaves. Another common wild plant which can be found on high slopes is Erinacea anthyllis also known as hedgehog broom. You will also find North African tods in spring. Moorish gecko or crocodile gecko is common in the area and can easily be found strolling on the stony walls of the village. Other common inhabitants are Mantis also known as Praying Mantis which have bulged eyes and head and they can swing their heads and eyes up to 180 degrees. You will also find running squirrels and elephant strew over there which resembles with the opossums.
Now let’s discuss some popular and unique wild animals which can be found in High Atlas Mountains. Our top pic on unique wild life would be Barbary Macaque. You can also call them monkey but they are usually called Barbary apes. They are mostly found in Algerian and in Atlas Mountains. They are typically taller than average monkey, Female Macaques can grow up to 21 inches and male can grew up to 25 inches. Their faces are pink and have large tails.
Snow leopards can also be found in High Mountains. They usually hunt Markhor, sheep’s and goats. Due to the increase in population this specie is rapidly decreasing and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) listed this specie in endangered category. Although snow leopard is found in High mountains but not on High Atlas. At high Atlas the other big Cat Barbary leopard can be found. These north African leopards are extremely rare and can only be found in Algerian and in Moroccan region.
Barbary sheep’s and their subspecies can be found in High Atlas. These are also known as Arui or aoudad. This is also very rare species and besides North Africa is can also be found on Southern Europe. They usually eat grass and bushes and fulfill their water needs from their diet but if they found water they drink. They came out and eat at early in the morning or in the evening and rest at afternoon when sun is on full swing.
Finally, cuvier’s gazelle are also present in that area. They are actually the subspecies of Antelope which are particularly found in Algeria, Tunisia and in Morocco. This specie is also known as Edmi because of their dark body color. In Arabic culture it is consider as the symbol of beauty and because of its mass hunting this specie is also in the rare category. Currently there are only 1800 left around the world.
Morocco is well known for its Atlas Mountain trekking trails and you will find multiple trekking trips at that place. Let see some of the most popular trekking trips which you can enjoy in Atlas Mountain.
Mount Toubkal as we discussed before is the highest peak of Atlas Mountain. It offers Unique experience and you will get a chance to see the Berbers life of this area. This Mount is situated at the western Part of the Atlas and while trekking must notice the houses of mud made by Berbers at the rocky slopes. You will be amazed how the house stands at the 45 degree of angle. It will take you almost 3 days to climb the peak of Toubkal but it is highly recommended to trek with local guides whether you are experience or new trekker. Locals knew the place better than you and when you trek with them, they will guide you through safe routes. Although the route to top is quite straight forward if you take your route from Mizane valley to the village of Aroumd.
If you are new to this trekking game than before climbing Toubkal or other High peaks uof Atlas try to trek at the Valley of Asni, Mizane Valley, some peaks in Tacheddirt and Azadane Valley. These offer some good peaks which you should conquer first before going to advance climbing.
Trekking at Tichka Plateau is another great alternative to mount Toubkal. You will pass through those planes and see those Berbers villages which many foreigners never explore because it is less traveled area and quite unpopular. Be sure to pack your food and other stuff and it is high chance that you will be invited to lunch or dinner or even get an offer to satay at one of the Berber houses. Because there are no hotels in that area so either you have to stay at some Berber home or bring your own tent. It is better to accept the invitation of Berbers and spend a night in their mud house. It is also recommended to bring some hand sanitizers and other hygienic things like towels, soaps with you because the sanitation is very poor in most of the Berber villages you pass by. Although you can drink water and eat food without any hesitation because usually, they offer mint tea and Tagine. Tagine requires hard cooking so eat it with out any hesitation. Best time to trek this area is in spring where the scent of wild flowers spread everywhere
Many people ask us that can you trek atlas in winter and we than them absolutely you can but many routes at the top are often blocked by snow land sliding. We do not recommend trekking in Atlas at winters in night. If you want to trek in Snow than plan it on day not at Night.
We have compiled some useful tips which you should know before commencing your trip to Mighty High Atlas Mountain.1. Try to book your tour in advance because at peak of the season you will not find any good guides and you may face some music afterwards.2. Try to book your tour with some agency who are operated locally just like us. Do not fell in the trap of tour operators based on other countries and try to sell you trip to Marrakech or Atlas Mountains. Beware of these thugs and contact local tour operators for booking.3. We charge 85€ and per person price will decrease in a group tour as the person in the group increase.4. As it is a bit colder in mountains so it is very wise to ask your tour operators and guide about the packing list. They will even guide you on phone or online about the packing list you must have before coming to Atlas Mountains.5. If possible than we recommend to pack some gifts for Berbers because you may need to spend a night or two at their house. They are so kind that they will not accept money from you so it is wise to give them some gift if you can. Also, you can give some gifts to you guides as well.