Morocco’s Atlas Mountains regularly make it into ‘The World’s Top Ten Treks’ and with good reason. Firstly there’s the landscape which will leave you breathless. The Atlas Mountains form the rugged backbone of Morocco, running from North to South they protect the fertile coastal strip of the Atlantic coast from the bone-dry desert sands of the Sahara.
Walking through the Atlas provides ever-changing scenery ranging from the ice-cracked plateaus of Jebel Mgoun to the wind-carved sandstone towers of Jebel Sahro. And then there’s Jebel Toubkal, cloaked in snow for much of the year, and 4167m at it’s the second highest mountain in Africa.
The Atlas Mountains have been used by Berber shepherds and nomadic Bedouin to provide both grazing and respite from the heat of the lowland plains for centuries. As a result the Atlas Mountains are criss-crossed with a lattice of paths which are punctuated with the occasional azib providing shelter. It’s a genuine playground for trekkers.
Everything about the Atlas is set on a grand scale; the mountains are enormous and the skies are even bigger. And as a trekker that means you get an awful lot of mountain all to yourself. Trekking is possible year-round in Morocco, although during the snowy winter months trekkers tend to migrate from the High Atlas to the warmer climes of Jebel Sahro.
Trekking in Morocco about much more than jaw-dropping scenery and guaranteed good weather; it’s a country with an unmistakable charm and a great sense of humour. The Atlas Mountains are home to the Berber, and living in such a rugged land has shaped a people who try to squeeze every possible drop of joy out of life. Mountain guide and muleteers work with a zeal that’s hard to imagine for such a physically demanding job.
The Atlas Mountains have treks to suit all ages and abilities. There are a growing number of companies offering organised treks, or you can simply turn-up a one of the trailhead villages and get a guide organised within a matter of minutes. Going solo is also possible thanks to some well-penned guidebooks, but with guides costing so comparatively little it makes sense to do your bit for the local economy.Add-in the fact that you can fly direct from the UK in 3-4 hours, and that a return ticket will probably cost less than a train fare to The Highlands, and you can see how Morocco’s earned its Top Ten status.