Hikers and cyclists are always looking for the next big thing that will allow them to test their limits. Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, which features dozens of rugged trails and North Africa’s tallest peak, offer a worthy challenge. Here are 15 reasons every cyclist and hiker should make it a priority to take on the Atlas Mountains.
1. There Are Hiking Paths For Every Skill Level
Paths along the lower elevations present less intense hikes that are better for beginners. And intricate passes move through valleys as well as local villages. The high peaks are perfect for skilled hikers that have experience with higher altitudes.
2. The Mountains Are Close To Marrakech
The mountains are less than 50 miles from Marrakech. Its close proximity makes the destination a perfect getaway from the large city. You can rent a car easily from the city, or cycle out all the way from downtown.
3. You Can Hike In Great Weather
A warm climate is generally found throughout the range, and most peaks feature beautiful snow during winter months. April, May, September and October all present mild temperatures as well as minimal rainfall amounts.
4. Unpaved Roads To Explore
Mountain bikes are a must for cyclists planning a trip into the High Atlas Mountains. The unpaved roads provide a rough terrain that tests even the most experienced riders while offering a fun downhill descents.
5. Make A Stop In Ourika Valley
Take a break from the rocky terrain and enjoy this area which features greenery. The location is a short ride from Marrakech and is one of the easier valleys to navigate. There are plenty of day trips from tour operators that will get you to this picturesque valley in no time.
6. Explore The Quiet Villages
Villages are not often seen by travelers, but they provide a great stopping point for any point during a cycling or hiking adventure. Imlil is near the summit of Mount Toubkal and presents a break from the hard to navigate peak.
7. There Is Accommodation For Every Price Level
There are plenty of hotels throughout the region allowing you to take breaks during your trip. The Ourika Valley is home to many accommodations and is centrally located between Marrakech and the ranges. Most of them feature pools for a relaxing swim after each ride or hike.
8. Take On The Jebel Toubkal Trail
Hikers searching for the most challenging route can look no further than Jebel Toubkal. It winds its way through the mountain terrain and ends at the highest peak. Plan for a journey that lasts several days to experience every part of the trail.
9. Ride The Crazy Tizi n’ Test Pass
Cyclists can take advantage of the outstanding views presented at this location which looks out through the Atlas mountains. The pass leads to major roads and reaches altitudes well above sea level.
10. There Are Plenty Of Charming Picnic Spots
Take a break from a grueling hike and stop at a number of scenic vistas, where you can stop and enjoy a packed lunch during the trip. Try using this technique in Anti Atlas passes which feature beautiful views of the valleys.
11. Visit The The Walled City of Taroudant
This historic city to the south of the mountain range is a great place to visit when seeking a break from the cycling tour or hike. Visit the market and make a healthy snack out of locally grown almonds.
12. There Are Great Official Guides
Official guides know the area and are licensed through the Bureau des Guides. Hikers recommend them for their knowledge of the surroundings and ethical tourism practices that make any hike or bike ride easier.
13. It’s A Great Area For Families
The valleys are perfect for family hikes or bike riding adventures away from the more difficult terrain of mountains. Children especially like the interaction with local families met along the way.
14. Climb Mount Siroua
Mount Siroua is a volcanic mountain that offers its own challenges for hikers. It is situated at the boundary of the High Atlas Mountains and features difficult descents among the nearby saffron plants.
15. You’ll Experience Less Crowds
The winding paths and routes throughout the mountain range are not as well known to tourists who often stop in Marrakech. This means less traffic and more opportunities to view the surroundings on your own schedule.
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This article was originally published on April 2, 2015.