Hiking Atlas Mountains: Everything You need to Know About Hiking Trips to the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech

Hiking in the Atlas Mountains is an activity many are tempted to try and the experience can be hugely rewarding. But which are the best places trails to follow, when is the best time to go and what should you wear/take with you? 

Hiking Atlas Mountains

It’s possible to go hiking in the Atlas Mountains at any time of year but high summer can be too hot for comfort, even at altitude, while, in winter, snow and ice can create challenging and potentially dangerous conditions, even at lower levels. Warm but fresh (i.e. neither too hot nor too cold), with heavy snow cover at only the highest altitudes, late spring and autumn are considered the best times of year for exploring the hills and valleys of the lower slopes, i.e. from, say, April to mid-June and mid-September to November.

Where to Go Hiking in the Atlas Mountains

All parts of the High Atlas offer beautiful scenery and spectacular views but as some treks are more demanding than others you would well advised to choose a location suited to your hiking experience and general fitness. Your choice of hiking destination will also be determined by the time you intend to spend in the mountains because while some routes can be completed within a day or two others can take as long as a full week. If you are unsure about which treks to tackle your hotel should be able to provide general information on the most popular areas.   

Should I take a Guided Tour?

Again, this partly depends on your own experience and your intended destination. For longer, more difficult treks it is invariably safer to book a local guide who may also be able to offer the advantage of a mule to carry your belongings. Many of the shorter trails, on the other hand, being relatively easy, can be enjoyed without the need for a guide or transport.

What Else is There to Do?

In addition to the wide range of hiking trails, available activities in the mountains include trekking on horseback and exploring the dramatic landscapes in 4WD vehicles; one can also join groups of others for climbing sessions and bird watching tours. 

Any mountain trek also provides the opportunity to meet the locals (predominantly Berbers) in the many villages dotted throughout the mountains, to learn about their culture whilst, perhaps, enjoying a traditional Berber meal or two.

During the winter, skiing is a viable option in Oukaimeden (the main skiing destination in Morocco) and a few other mountain areas, although resort infrastructure is not on a par with what one finds in the Alps and North America.

Top Tips for Trips to the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech

So, what should you wear/pack and what else is there to consider? Well, Morocco is comparatively conservative country and this applies even more so in its rural areas and mountain villages. It is therefore important to wear modest clothing that covers the shoulders and legs and avoid ostentatious displays of jewellery and/or high-end electronics.

As to packing for the trip, be sure to take clothing for both warmer days and cooler evenings, as well as sunscreen, a hat/cap and, above all, appropriate hiking footwear. Remember, too, to take a backpack in which to carry your daily essentials, not least water (many hikers also carry rehydration formulas) and do make sure to carry enough cash for your hike’s duration, preferably in coin and smaller notes. 

Finally, but by no means least, be sure to take out comprehensive insurance before you travel and allow time to acclimatise to altitude if planning to tackle some of the taller peaks of the High Atlas.  

Where to Start From…

You will, of course, need a comfortable Marrakech base from which to plan your trip to the Atlas Mountains. Les Borjs de la Kasbah is one such, with all the services one is likely to require including advice from experienced staff on the tours to consider and how to book them.

Learn more.