The High Atlas, North Africa’s greatest mountain range, contains some of the most intriguing and beautiful regions of Morocco. A historical and physical barrier between the northern plains and the pre-Sahara, its Berber-populated valleys feel – and indeed are – very remote from the country’s mainstream or urban life. The area is North Africa’s premier trekking destination; casual day-hikers and serious mountaineers alike will find appealing routes in the region, offering both staggering peaks (jebels) and well-trodden passes (tizis or, in French, cols). Just a short distance from the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh is Toubkal National Park, home to the impressive Jebel Toubkal (4167m) and numerous villages that appear locked in time. In addition to the highest peak, other worthy crests and hamlets can be reached with a trusted guide.
Mud-thatched Berber villages and remote pinnacles aren’t the only draw here. The landscape varies from season to season: winter drops metres of snow that leads to gushing river valleys in spring; summer brings an unforgiving sun, while the autumnal sunlight brings the browns and reds of the peaks to life.
One of the benefits of trekking the region is being able to walk unencumbered: muleteers and their mules are available for hire, and mountain guides are an invaluable resource, particularly recommended if you are heading off the main routes. Other options include rock climbing and ski mountaineering, and mountain biking is increasingly popular on the dirt tracks (pistes) and mule paths.