Trek Notes - Morocco

The Altas Mountains

This North African country actually has pretensions to join the European Union. Despite having  some modern, partially 'westernised' cities from its period as a French Protectorate, it is however a vastly different nation to any in Europe. Morocco is one of the last remaining monarchies in Africa, it is a country of desert, semi desert, and green terraces, walnut and Almond groves, Juniper and Eucalypt woodlands and date palms. In other words it is perhaps the nearest place to mainland Europe that could be described as Exotic: In the sense of its landscapes, people, colours, smells, noises and flavours. A land of vibrant market souks, mosques and minarets. There is a great tradition of Islam although it is generally moderate. There has also been the history of the independence of the Berber peoples of the Atlas Mountains, famed for their civility, sense of humour and strength as a mountain people.
If you are a 'foody,' there is some excellent cuisine to be enjoyed from French inspired dishes, to famous Berber ones - such as Tagine and Couscous. At their best they have influenced world cooking. Then there is the inevitable Mint tea, or 'Whisky Berber' as the locals like to joke!

The highland regions of the nation run obliquely across the middle and form the chains of the fabled Atlas mountains rising to high peaks such as Toubkal and Mgoun that are over 4000m high. 

To the south the Atlas ripple into the lower Jebel Sahro which eventually merges into the Sahara desert. Sherpa's mountain treks to these places commence from the red city of Marakech, a place that used to be the hub of an empire stretching as far as Timbuktu in Mali. It is an amazing place where in the central square, The Djema El Efna you will find a mediaeval spectacle every evening featuring music, snake charmers, acrobats, orange juice makers and kebab cooks. A unique place to experience African night life. In winter the snow-clad peaks of the High Atlas provide a backdrop to its distinctive skyline of crenellated walls, palm trees and minarets. All of Sherpa's tours begin and end here and these include a self guided trek as well as the traditional high peak escorted tours.

Morocco does not immediately spring to mind when one thinks of high mountains, but in fact, it provides some of the most impressive mountain walking in the world. More than this, its population, Berber and Arab, ensure a truly exotic experience and a thought-provoking insight into an ancient culture very different from our own. Morocco is also a country that offers a variety of microclimates. Even in summer you can still find snow in the High Atlas, whilst in - mid winter the fringes of the Sahara are ideal for walking.

The Berbers of the Atlas have long held the interest of ethnologists as an example of an ancient mountain society. Our contact with them as delightful trek staff is one of the charming aspects of walking in this region.

Why not explore the Atlas Mountains, the home of the hardy Berber peoples, walking at your own pace on this unique trekking opportunity. The scenery is altogether different from our European ‘Hotel Treks', experience the wild beauty of the High Atlas.

The adventure starts from the beautiful Riad Magi in Marrakech, located in a quiet ancient quarter of the medina, a short walk from the souks and the famous Djemma El Efna. From here a short spectacular drive takes you over the dusty Hoaz plains, through the scenic gorges at Moulay Brahim, past the Hotel Toubkal at Asni, where Winston Churchill used to paint and onto the village of Aremd with its panoramic view of Jebel Toubkal. Later you can visit the cascades of the Mizane valley or the shrine at the tiny settlement of Sidi Chamharouch, before relaxing on the terrace of the small hotel of Chez Lahcen at Aremd.

The walking takes you through Berber villages, like Imelil and Tamatert, with apple, peach & walnut trees bright with blossom in the spring and full of rural images of harvesting, threshing and irrigating unchanged for centuries at other times of the year. The trail takes you up to 2279m before descending to Ouaneskra and a night in a local Gite where you may choose to sleep under the African stars. After the large village of Tachddirt the trail takes us over the Tizi nou Addi pass (2960m), before continuing through meadows to the ski village at Oukaimedene.

The walk climbs over a high pass at over 3000m before dipping into the natural beauty of the Ourika Valley full of cascades and local craft boutiques to our gite in Timichi for a well earned tagine. The next day we walk down to Setti Fadma to be collected and driven through the remainder of the Ourika Valley, eventually spilling back out onto the Hoaz plain, then through the throbbing heart of Marrakech and back to the peaceful Riad Magi.


Inn to Inn 8 days

Duration: 7 nights / 8 days
Tour Code: JMO
Grade: Easy - Moderate
Day Stages: Max 15km.



7 nights/8 days - The range of accommodation varies between a 3* hotel to a berber gite. Your first and last nights are normally spent at our beautiful Riad Magi in Marrakech - a typical Moroccan's house with a panoramic terrace - giving you the chance to sample by day and night the delights of the Djemma El Efna. In Aremd village (for 2 nights) at the foot of the Jebel Toubkal massif, a Berber welcome awaits you at our small hotel below the brown and emerald terraces of this old town. At Ouaneskra there is the chance to stay in a simple Berber gite. In Oukaimedene we stay at either a Club Alpine Francais hostel, or the Chez JuJu Pension (both with bars). The penultimate night is spent in a gite d'etape in Timichi.


Accommodation & Meals
5 nights dinner, bed and breakfast, packed lunch can be paid for locally. 2 nights bed and breakfast, in Marrakech you eat out at your own expense. We stay in a mixture of hotels, gites and pensions. Ensuite facilities are not generally available.
Extra nights in Marrakech are recommended.

Way Marks
The routes are popular and well walked, although you will need to follow the route notes & maps carefully as there are no waymarks. Nevertheless our muleteer guide will help you if you go wrong!

On arrival at Marrakesh airport it is a short taxi ride to your first hotel (included).

End of Tour
After breakfast on day 8, taxi to airport for connecting flights (included). 

Your Guide 
You will be accompanied by a local Berber guide, this is due to the remoteness of the area. You can still travel on any date throughout the year and individually, this does not mean that you will be joining a group.

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