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Trekking the Atlas Mountains

Stretching for around 2500 kilometres across Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, the Atlas Mountain range separates the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert and offers sweeping views of its verdant valleys and traditional mud-built Berber villages.

The mountains are divided into ranges including the High Atlas, Middle Atlas and the Anti Atlas. Primarily inhabited by ancient Berber populations, trekking in the Atlas Mountains provides a real sense of culture and history, which you can experience first hand amid the formidable vistas.

High Atlas ranges

It's around a two-hour drive from Marrakech to the villages at the start of the High Atlas trails, the most common being Imlil. This breathtaking range is a trekkers paradise between spring and autumn. You'll find some of the highest peaks in North Africa here with the tallest, Mount Toubkal, vaulting 4,167 metres above sea level.

Trek through fields of wheat and fragrant orchards of walnut, apple and cherry trees surrounded by cocoa coloured mountains as you head deep into the rugged landscape. Home to the Ourigane National Park, you'll be met with gentle terrain covered with remarkable copper green soil and winding juniper trees. While over in the Azzaden Valley are rushing mountain streams near the base of Mount Toubkal.

From Agadir, visitors can experience the southern regions of the High Atlas at Paradise Valley. An hour's drive north of the city you'll be greeted by an inviting blue pool surrounded by craggy cliffs, waterfalls and trails lined with palm trees.

Mid Atlas ranges

Extending from Azilal to Ouarzazate, the Middle Atlas ranges provide contrasting landscapes reminiscent of the peaks of Colorado, with its impressive gorges and canyons. The highest peak here is Jbel Mgoun standing at 4,068 metres. It's surrounded by magnificent green valleys pierced with irrigation canyons, walnut groves, cedar forests and traditional villages tucked into the mountainside.

The area is at its best in late spring when you'll be met with carpets of wild flowers and dramatic rivers fuelled by the melting snow. Valleys like the Ait Bougmez and the Tessaout offer easy hiking terrain.

Anti Atlas ranges south of Agadir

Extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the southwest of Morocco, just down from Agadir, the Anti Atlas mountain range is a wonderfully wild area of quarzite mountains dotted with ancient castles from times gone by. The Berber way of life hasn't changed for centuries and, as you traverse the endless valleys, you'll find traditional shops and markets giving you the chance to barter with the enigmatic community.

This range has been popular with British climbers since the 1960s and is an excellent location for beginners. The area is also home to the volcanic mountain Djebel Siroua, which boasts the highest summit in the southern regions at 3,304 metres. It offers fantastic trekking, rewarded by panoramic views of dramatic gorges and quaint cliff villages along the way.

When to go

There are great trekking opportunities all year round with the best conditions between March and November. In spring, you'll find yourself surrounded by fragrant almond blossom while the cooler months of autumn offer a more comfortable climate.

In winter you'll still find sunny days but cold nights, with temperatures dropping to around zero, and if you're heading above 3000 metres you'll be met with permanent snow. If you can handle hiking in the heat, July and August are hot but a lot cooler than the suffocating heat on lower ground.

Choose your trek

You'll find tours and excursions to suit all ages and levels of fitness, from speedy day trips navigated by 4x4 to authentic camel treks including an overnight stay in a gite with a Berber community.

Whether you're staying north of the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains in Marrakech or further south in Agadir, adjacent to the Anti Atlas range, you're bound to find your perfect trek across this stunning terrain.

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