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High Atlas Travel Guide

  • Photo: Martin Maun / Shutterstock

Plan Your High Atlas Vacation

The High Atlas region is made for outdoor adventures—the perfect antidote to the concentration and animation of Marrakesh. You can hang glide, ski, hot-air balloon, quad bike, and ride mules, but perhaps best of all, you can walk. And if trekking in the snowy mountain ranges for days on end with only Berber women and their mules for friends isn't your thing, you can always wimp out and drive.


the truth is, there's nothing wimpy about it. The roads career around bends for miles on end, carving their way through the rock. You and your fellow passengers will "ooh" and "aah" at every vista and every new combination of snow and sun. Stretching from the ocean to the desert, the mountain scenery is utterly compelling.

The High Atlas Mountains rise as a natural fortress between the fertile Haouz Plain around Marrakesh and the deserts of the south. Trapping moisture that blows in from the Atlantic, the mountains pass this bounty along to the land and to the thin rivers that vanish into the southern desert. To reach the mountains, even today's travelers must go through one of the routes guarded by age-old passes: Tizi-n-Test in the west or Tizi-n-Tichka in the east. They benefit from some glorious spots to stay, and the chance to take a quiet look at some intriguing relics of Moroccan history.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Hike North Africa's tallest peak Djebel Toubkal, which soars to 13,671 feet, is only a two-day climb. Trekkers can find everything they need at the base of the mountain.
  2. Legendary hospitality Many travelers say their favorite experiences involve staying with a traditional Berber family and engaging in simple pleasures such as rambling, horseback riding, and bird-watching.
  3. Adrenaline junkies getting their fix From quad biking to skiing to skydiving and hot-air ballooning, outdoor activities in magical surroundings abound. Even just driving through the jaw-dropping mountains can be an adventure, with panoramas you have to see to believe.
  4. Magnificent views in high style Some truly first-class hotels have opened their doors to travelers in the High Atlas; the best even contribute to the local community.
  5. Berber tradition and culture Life in the Atlas has barely altered over hundreds of years. While the arrival of electricity and new roads has brought changes, you'll still find Berber culinary, agricultural, linguistic, and artisanal heritage alive and well.

When To Go

When to Go

For some the High Atlas is at its best in April, when the trees are flowering and the mountains are still cloaked in white. High-country hiking...

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