Morocco, long seen as a land of cultural awakenings, has gained a reputation as a hiking destination. More and more people are leaving behind the sensual enclaves of Marrakech, Essaouira and Agadir on trekking holidays in Morocco. But what are the best Moroccan treks?
Morocco is home to the snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains – the highest point of north Africa. There are some serious contrasts too, from the verdant valleys of Ourika, to the outlandish desert steppes of the Sahara.
Few places in North Africa, or the world for that matter, can offer such a variety of vistas, such a cacophony of colours, and such a diversity of landscapes as Morocco. Plus the food is great and the people are very friendly.
Throw in some ancient Berber cultures, customs and traditions. Mix it up with the Arabic and Muslim influences. Chuck in the odd Roman ruin. What you get with trekking holidays in Morocco is a unique combination of cultures and environments.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the top 10 treks in Morocco. It is based on the most popular routes and regions to explore on foot in Morocco.
At 4,167 metres, Mt. Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa. It is not surprising, therefore, that it has rapidly become a favourite destination for trekking holidays in Morocco.
Hikers tend to start at the village of Imlil and make their way towards Refuge du Toubkal base camp, which sits at 3,207 metres. Along the way you take in all the outstanding natural beauty of the Toubkal National Park.
At Toubkal’s peak, trekkers are rewarded with dazzling 360° views of the park and beyond. The entire trek takes 2-3 days and can be completed all-year round. Winter treks are, needless to say, significantly more difficult, and require crampons. Qualified mountain guides, mules and equipment can all be hired in Imlil.
Setti Fatima, a small village 65km south of Marrakech. It is a central point for a number of walking and trekking holidays in the stunning Ourika Valley.
Being so close to the ‘Red City’, these trails are naturally popular with those who like to combine a city break with a brief foray into the wilderness. But it is well worth visiting for more than a day trip as the area has a lot to offer.
What makes Setti Fatima one of the best Moroccan treks is the diversity of its plant life. You’re unlikely to find such intense greenery anywhere else in North Africa. But the main attractions are the seven waterfalls of the Ourika River which give an oasis-like feel to the area.
The Saharan dunes of Erg Chebbi in south-eastern Morocco provide a magical backdrop for a desert trek. Space and time seem to be irrelevant here, and only the starry sky and the whispering wind occupy your thoughts.
Technically speaking, it’s not you who’s doing the trekking; it’s your camel. But that doesn’t make exploring Erg Chebbi any less of an adventure, it can be a mystical, soul-soothing experience. Tour operators are numerous, and since there are no defined routes, all of them offer something different from the next.
If you thought the Atlas Mountains were the be all and end all of trekking holidays in Morocco, think again. The Rif Mountains, though not quite as high as the Atlas ranges, are every bit as beautiful, diverse, and historic.
More rain falls here than in any other part of Morocco, so they’re considerably greener too. The starting point for most hikes into the Rif Mountains is the incredibly charming town of Chefchaouen.
There are many trails leading deep into the Talassemtane national park, where cedars, oaks and firs fight for sunlight along breathtaking ridges, and gushing streams carve their way through rocky ravines. Barbary macaques, golden eagles and gazelles all inhabit this fertile paradise, so be sure to pack those binoculars!
Arguably the most picturesque of all the High Atlas valleys, Ait Bougmez is a paradise-like playground for trekkers. Soaring peaks provide a backdrop for endless fruit orchards and vast green pastures bisected by fast flowing streams, while Mgoun Massif, Morocco’s second highest mountain, looms in the distance.
Many of the routes here lead through remote villages, giving you plenty of opportunity for cultural experiences. In fact, there are said to be 28 communities here, each with their own customs and traditions.
The Valley is 14 kilometres in length and approximately a kilometre across. There are a few different options and it is one of the best Moroccan treks for beginners.
Berber villages, ancient Kasbahs, deep ravines and towering peaks: treks in and around the Todra Gorge offer a little bit of everything. In truth this is less of a gorge and more of a canyon.
In places its sandstone cliffs are 160 metres high, and walking beneath them gives you a great sense of Todra’s imposing grandeur. Date and fig trees line the river which at one time must have been an almighty torrent to have created this gigantic crack that divides the Atlas Mountains.
The Kasbah of Tinerhir is the starting point for most treks. These tend to lead north towards Todra’s narrowest point (10m), where the sheer rock walls of the gorge tower above you in spectacular fashion.
Lying between the High Atlas Mountains and the Sahara desert is the Jebel Sahro range, one of the most popular places for trekking holidays in Morocco. This is a remote region of jagged peaks and sandy plateaux – occasionally interrupted by green gorges and isolated oases.
Jebel Sahro is accessible all year round and is therefore one of the best Moroccan treks in the winter. In fact, winter is the ideal time to visit, since visibility is greater and temperatures are usually more bearable – not too hot, not too cold!
Views towards the High Atlas are at their best here. Most routes run through mud-brick Berber villages, and some even incorporate the Amalou n’Mansour, Jebel Sahro’s highest peak (2712 metres).
Essaouira has long been recognised as the place for Morocco surfing holidays, but this psychedelic coastal city is also fast becoming a Mecca for the trekker. Visitors are breaking loose from the city to explore the incredible surrounding countryside and coast on horseback, camelback, or foot.
If deserted beaches, secluded villages, rocky cliffs, crashing waves and glorious sunsets is your idea of hiking heaven, this might just be the place for you! Without doubt some of the best Moroccan treks if you like to keep it coastal.
Bridging the High Atlas and Anti-Atlas mountain ranges is the volcanic wilderness of Jbel Sirwa, a land of plunging gorges, craggy cliffs and almost unnatural rock formations.
Trekking routes here are far, far away from the beaten paths of the High Atlas. So you can expect a greater degree of peace, tranquillity and authenticity.
Most tours take you through traditional Berber villages. Here locals are far less accustomed to the presence of tourists than their counterparts in the High Atlas, but no less friendly, approachable and welcoming.
The foothills which surround the mighty mount Toubkal are not only extraordinarily beautiful, but also relatively easy to traverse. So they are ideal for light trekking holidays in Morocco – you certainly don’t have to be expert mountaineer to get around here.
You’ll find a multitude of tour operators running out of Marrakech offering some of the best Moroccan treks in the Tobkal foothills. The village of Oukaïmedene is where most treks begin.
A popular route takes you up the Imenane Valley and through the Tizi n’Tamatert pass, finishing up in Imlil (where most Toubkal ascents begin). Expect stunning sunsets, panoramic views and amazing Berber cuisine!
Hopefully you have found our top 10 trekking holidays in Morocco interesting and it has inspired you to book one of the best Moroccan treks! Be sure to check out our Morocco discounts as you could save a fortune.