Experience Morocco’s rugged High Atlas Mountains and rich Berber traditions. Trek through Berber villages, the coastal city of Essaouira, and the Western Sahara Desert. Ride camels into the dunes to spend a night in Berber tents after touring the ancient walled city of Ait Ben Haddou.
Few roads lead into the secluded stronghold of the Atlas Mountains, where the traditional agrarian way of life has scarcely changed in hundreds of years. As we trek, we see Berber women in brightly colored dresses tending fields amid picturesque mud-brick villages. Higher up, we meet nomadic shepherds in summer pastures. Mountain Gurus’ High Atlas Trek combines hiking through Berber villages with a sojourn in Essaouira, a seaport for thousands of years, and a visit to the wilderness and oases of the Western Sahara Desert. Along the way, we summit North Africa’s highest point, Mount Toubkal, a challenging but non-technical ascent that requires no mountaineering experience but rewards us with some of the best views in the Arab World.
High Atlas Trek • Mount Toubkal • Camel Riding • 10 Days
Embark on an epic Moroccan adventure. Make your way through the High Atlas Mountains on foot, exploring ancient towns and villages along the way, and end your trip with a camel ride to a Berber desert camp.
The journey begins in the former medieval kingdom of Marrakesh, near the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, where you’ll explore the sun-bathed streets of the old city and stroll through vibrant markets full of rich spices, handmade carpets, leather goods, and snake charmers.
We then make our way to the High Atlas Mountains where we continue our adventure solely on foot. Our friendly guides will lead mules carrying the group’s trekking gear, leaving you free to enjoy the scenery while carrying only a light day pack. Over the course of several days, we trek through Berber settlements and over mountain passes as we ascend to the summit of Jbel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa. Our route leads through the lush village of Azib Tamsoult at 7,380 feet (2,250 meters). From here, we climb a moderately steep path to Tizi Aguelzim Pass at 12,045 feet (3,670 meters) and descend to Toubkal basecamp. The next morning, we leave before dawn and climb to the summit of Toubkal at 13,671 feet (4,166 meters). We enjoy beautiful views of the entire Atlas Mountain Range and the Marrakesh plains beyond, then descend to the trailhead at Imlil.
The next morning, we drive to the coastal city of Essaouira, located on a harbor that has been used by mariners on the North Atlantic for thousands of years. We explore this ancient city’s fortifications, narrow pathways and colorful, inviting markets. Then we depart for the spectacular Tizi N’Tichka Pass in the western Sahara Desert. We explore a riverside oasis and barren hillsides clustered with Kasbahs, and tour the Ait Ben Haddou UNESCO World Heritage Site. We then drive to Zagora, with beautiful views of the Draa Valley along the way as we ride camels into the dunes and spend the night in Berber tents. Our adventure concludes with a traditional Berber dinner and a beautiful desert sunset.
Merzouga Dunes Luxury Camp • 12 Days
Mountain Gurus offers the option to extend the High Atlas Trek with a luxury camping excursion in the Merzouga Dunes.
After visiting the ancient port city of Essaouira, we follow the Atlantic coast south to Agadir, passing small towns known for their surfing tournaments. We then head inland to the walled city of Taroudant, which has been inhabited since at least 1,000 A.D. and is home to fine carpet and jewelry makers. From here we cross the southern mountains of the High Atlas Range and head east through the sandstone cliffs of the Dadès Gorge toward the great Merzouga Dunes near the Algerian border. The Merzouga Dunes rise as high as 500 feet above the surrounding rocky desert. They are towering waves in a sea of windblown sand known locally as Erg Chebbi. We ride camels out into the dunes and watch the sunset over the vast landscape. We then sleep in a luxury tented camp listening to Berber music under the starry sky, imagining what life would have been like hundreds of years ago in this remote desert landscape.
In the morning, we depart west through the famous kasbah, or citadel, in Tamnougalt, set among the lush palm groves of the stunning Mezguita Oasis. We continue to the city of Ouarzazate and the Ait Ben Haddou UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we have time to linger and explore then spend the night in a kasbah. The next morning, we tour the ancient ruins and return to Marrakesh over the spectacular Tizi N’Tichka Pass.
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What can I expect on my Moroccan adventure?
Your adventure will take you from the ancient city of Marrakesh to the top of the High Atlas Mountains, and to the Atlantic coastal city of Essaouira and the edge of the great Sahara Desert.
Mountain Gurus’ High Atlas Explorer is the perfect adventure for anyone who wants to experience Morocco’s diverse landscapes, culture and cuisine in ten days. Throughout the expedition, you’ll be supported by our friendly guides, who are committed to your safety and comfort. In the ancient cities of Marrakesh and Essaouira, we tour colorful markets, rich culture and beautiful architecture. The trek up Mount Toubkal is snow-free and non-technical. It requires only good fitness and the ability to hike for 6 to 8 hours per day. While trekking, mules will carry most of the team’s gear, leaving you free to walk with only a light day pack. Finally, we journey through the dunes and Kasbahs of the western Sahara Desert, where we tour the fortified city of Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and watch the sunset over one of the world’s great desert landscapes.