Saturday, January 27, 2007

Hiking and Climbing in Morocco.

Yesterday's story about exploring the hills around Fez on a mountain bike started me thinking about all of the outdoor activities that tend to be forgotten when you are snowed in in your riad. Our blogger friend Liosliath has also been thinking of the mountains and has a story of hiking up the road from her valley. There is a link to her story at the bottom of this post.

There are hundreds of places for climbing, trekking and even rafting, but here is a sample to give you a taste of what Morocco has to offer.

Biking is superb in Morocco and our pick would be the ride from the Todra Gorge to to the Tamatattouchte Pass and a great downhill run to the village of Msemrir. Then, from the Gorge du Dades to the village of Bou Thar. Bike tour operators will arrange transfers to most hotels in the region, for example it is possible to bike the zig-zag from Bou Thar to the head of the valley, followed by a downhill run to where you can be transfered to the Boulmaine Dades Hotel. One tour organisation does ten to twelve day trips, others offer shorter versions. With your own arrangements you can work out an itinerary that fits your budget and time.

Great places for Trekking.

Middle Atlas scenery


There is a great four and a half to five hour trek which starts from Azrou (where they hold the tuesday Souq) . The first destination is the summit of Ras Kharzouza (1900 m) which you reach by way of some beautiful juniper, oak and cork forests that give way to cedar at around 1600 m. From the top of Kharzouza there is a spectacular view out over the Tigrigra Valley, Azrou and the village of Ain Leuh. The best descent is down the other side of the mountain, through Tizi Tioumliline and on to the track beside the Oued Sebbab that leads you back to Azrou. A word of warning - don't feed the Barbary Apes! I have had one launch itself onto my back and this is not an experience to be recommended.

Friendly local checks the time

Another five hour walk starts from Sefrou. If you want to spend time in the souq there, the market day is Friday. The best route for a trek here takes you from Sefrou to the tiny town of Bhalil some one and a half hours away. Bhalil is an ancient Christian city founded by Roman soldiers who had opted out of the Second Legion - or so the story goes. But more astonishing is the present day reality that just behind the village are a few dozen families living in caves. Yes, modern day troglodytes. The walk continues through some beautiful scenic spots and plenty of wildlife in a slow circle down to the starting point at Sefrou.


The pick of the High Atlas trips starts from the Bou Guemmez Valley, heading south-west through Berber villages and astounding scenery to three of the highest peaks in the Atlas - Mgoun (4069m./13346ft), Ouanoukrim (4088m./13408ft) and Jebel Toubkal (4167m./13668ft). Starting point in Morocco for this trip is Marrakech and unless you are a very experienced trekker or climber, I would suggest hiring a local guide. There are now some package tours that also give you a chance to climb Toubkal in winter. This is not a particularly difficult ascent although keeping an eye on the weather is a must and I would suggest throwing in an ice-axe and crampons!

In between the High Atlas and the Sahara, is Jebel Sahro range. This is a fabulous area for climbing and trekking in the winter months. The best way in is via Ouarzazate on the south side of the Atlas. There are dozens of relatively easy walking paths between the Berber villages, however, local knowledge is a must, so again, get advice from a local guide. The highest peak here is Amalou n'Mansour (2712m./8895ft.)

As a base camp for trekking or climbing near Toubkal, we recommend Dar Tassa. You can find out about them via email:

Read Liosliath's story here.


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