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 Moroccan Atlas Mountains: Why You Should Visit Once in Your Lifetime

The charm of the Atlas Mountains lies in its beautiful landscapes, natural boundary between the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts and the Sahara Desert. Atlas Mountains stretching over 2,500 km (1,600 mi) through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia; located in Maghreb. The mountains are also home to several beautiful animals and plants. 

Thousands of visitors each year come here to experience the spectacular scenery. Visit to the Atlas Mountains can be made more adventurous with mountain biking and rock climbing. Winter allows some activities you must do in Morocco like skiing with Morocco’s high Atlas Mountains; highest peak being Toubkal 4,167 meters (13,671 ft). 

The Atlas Mountains is primarily inhabited by a Berber population soaked in culture and history. Berbers are renowned for their hospitality.

  • Visiting Er-Rif, which forms a half-moon-shaped arc.
  • Exploring the High Atlas Base Town of Ouarzazate.
  • Climb Jebel Toubkal or Hike in the Dades Valley.
  • Visiting the Magnificent Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou.
  • Discover the Kasbahs & Countryside around Telouet or Enjoy the Mountain Scenery of the Ourika Valley
  • Ouzoud Waterfalls and a Road Trip through the Draa Valley.
  • Hike in the Todra Gorge or a Trek to Toubkal Circuit

For some routes it is recommended (for some routes it is mandatory) to hire a Berber(specifically) mountain guide. Your guide is a source of local knowledge and can enhance your experience. Some of the best hotels in Morocco provide you with free local guides.

1. Some Adventure Sports you should try

  • Rock Climbing.
  • Mountain biking.
  • Skiing or snowboarding.
  • Mountain climbing.

2. Some Scenic Spots you should visit

  • Lalla Takerkoust is an artificial lake with breathtaking panoramas.
  • Ouzoud Falls in the Middle Atlas.
  • Journey through the road of a Thousand Kasbahs and Tizi-n-Test pass.
  • dizzying hairpin bends of Marrakesh and Taroudant.
  • Mesmerizing mountain and desert panoramas of Dades Gorge.\

3. Mountain Wildlife

  • Barbary macaque (endangered primates), Barbary deer, Barbary sheep, Cuvier’s gazelles, and wild boars, Barbary stag, mouflon (wild sheep), urial (a type of wild goat), rock hyrax (rock dassies), and Crested porcupine.
  • Moussier’s redstart and the alpine chough.
  • The most iconic symbol associated with Morocco is the Barbary lion.
  • Atlas bear and the Barbary leopard (nearly extinct).

4. Some Cultural sites

  • Aït Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Ruined city of Volubilis.
  • Historic route between Marrakech and the Sahara Desert.
  • Kasbahs (fortified castles).

5. Where to stay

Atlas Mountains stretch over 2,500 km (1,600 mi); Choosing where to stay depends on which area of the range you would most like to visit, and what activities you want to do there.

  • Imlil- a mountain village considered the gateway to the High Atlas      mountains.
  • Ifrane- a mountain village considered the gateway to the Middle Atlas      mountains.
  • Tafraoute – a wonderful place for adventures in the Anti-Atlas.

Being some most popular tourist spots; At these locations you can find some of the best luxury hotels and resorts.

6. Weather

Although the Atlas Mountains is a year-round destination, peak timings depend on your exact destination and activities chosen to do.

  • Best time for: trekking, mountain biking, and rock climbing is Spring or fall. At these times the weather is not too hot nor too cold, making it perfect timing for these activities.
  • late spring to early fall -Rain is ideal for those who are headed to the Middle Atlas.
  • For unique experiences you should travel during winter (December to February). Make sure to equip yourself with proper gear and adequate clothing for weather protection.

Here are some interesting facts about the Atlas Mountains

  • The Atlas Mountain range was formed when Africa collided with Europe and the Arabian Peninsula, that is why Mount Toubkal (highest peak of Atlas Mountains) is found in Morocco over Algeria.
  • They form a natural barrier that blocks cold winds from Europe from entering Africa; which keeps the North African region warmer.
  • The Atlas Mountains are home to a variety of ecosystems, including pristine forests, deserts, mountains, and even semi-arid coastlines.
  • The southwest section is known as ‘Anti-Atlas.’
  • Tourist attractions in the Atlas Mountains include the Lake Aguelmame Sidi Ali, Museum of Moroccan Handicrafts, and Ourika Valley Valleys, Youssef Ben Tachfine Prehistoric Cave and Ourika Valley.

From adventure sports to nearly extinct wildlife, spectacular scenery and beautiful landscapes The Atlas Mountains is worth visiting at least once in your lifetime.

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