Atlas Mountains
Last Updated: May 13, 2023

Mohssin Mazar

Atlas Mountains, also known as the Grand Atlas. Is the highest portion of the Atlas Mountains in central Morocco. North Africa. High Atlas extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Moroccan-Algerian frontier in the east. At the Atlantic and to the southwest, the range drops precipitously and forms an imposing transition to the coast and anti-Atlas range. The range descends less precipitously in the direction of Marrakech when viewed from the north.

High Atlas Mountains

The range contains Mount Toubkal, the highest elevation of which is 4,167 meters (2,589 mi; 13,670 ft) and also located in the Toubkal National Park. In Morocco, the range also acts as a barrier to the weather system, isolating the Sahara from the Mediterranean and continental regions to the north and west.

Also, the regular snowfall in the higher elevations of the massif allows for winter activities. In the High Atlas, snowfall also continues until late spring, mainly in the northern peaks of the range. Oukameden, one of the three major ski resorts in Morocco, is located in the western High Atlas.

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The High Atlas forms the basins of many river systems. The majority of rivers throughout the year travel north. The foundation of the settlements in that area is also provided. And also empties a number of valleys and seasonal rivers in the deserts and plateaus to the south and east of the mountains.

Berbers also live in the High Atlas Mountains and practice agriculture and grazing in the valleys. They have a special popular cuisine. In the arid High Atlas region, where rainfall is scarce, locals have also devised a clever way to manage the lack of rain and the fragile soil.

They also transformed the semi-arid lands into Agdal (garden in Berber), which is the local term for bountiful valleys. This technology captured many western farmers who were impressed by the high productivity of the system. Many scientists, especially French scientists, embark on annual expeditions to observe the community and its ecosystem.

Morocco’s Atlas Mountains are also a wonderful region of stunning scenery, pastoral Berber villages, ruined kasbahs and hiking trails. Here is a comprehensive guide for traveling to the Atlas Mountains.

Where the traditional way of life still prevails in the Berber villages in the Atlas Mountains. Women tend the fields while nomadic shepherds drive their livestock through some of the most stunning landscapes in the world.

From snow-capped mountains to rivers that cut through oases of life through dramatic red rock canyons, this is a fascinating and diverse region of Morocco well worth a visit. Far from the chaos of Fez or Marrakesh, the Atlas Mountains represent a very different, rural side to this captivating nation.

Where can i find it?

The Atlas Mountains begin near the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Morocco, traverse Algeria, and terminate on the Mediterranean coast of Tunisia. In total, they span approximately 2,500 kilometers.

The High Atlas Mountains, which reach a height of 4,167 meters, are located solely in the center of Morocco. Here, the landscape is the most dramatic and diverse. The gentler slopes of the northern and western borders receive more precipitation, resulting in verdant valleys that support the traditional Berber way of life.

The southern border is considerably drier and more rocky. Here, red rock canyons have been eroded over time, forming strange shapes that conceal slivers of green.

Moroccan sights to see in the atlas mountains

1: Ourika valley

Best short trip destination in the Atlas Mountains from Marrakesh

Ourika Valley lies in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Its rolling fields and gushing waterfalls are a stark contrast to the arid Moroccan plains.

It also takes the majority of travelers to Seti Fatima, the last small village on the paved road to Ourika Valley. It is also the starting point for day trips to the Atlas Mountains, the most famous of which include visits to the Seven Waterfalls. You can also meander and swim (too cold) as well as dine at the restaurants over the river.

Where in March and April, the cherry and almond plantations, as well as the picturesque riverbank, are covered by farmers with beautiful wildflowers.

2: Imlil and toubkal

Imlil is a small village that has become a center for trekking in the high mountains. It may lack the traditions and character of other Berber villages in the Atlas. But it more than makes up for it in adventure and scenery.

You are amid peaks that are frequently covered in snow, with Jebel Toubkal being the highest at 4,167 metres.
Almost everyone who travels to Imlil does so for one reason: to visit Imlil.

There are a number of short day trips around the valley as well as multi-day treks up to the highest peaks. The most popular route to the summit of Jebel Toubkal is the one that heads east. It can be completed in as little as two days or more leisurely over five days.

3: Ouirgan valley

Ideal for exploring Berber villages in the Atlas Mountains

While multi-day trekkers travel to Imlil and day-trippers from Marrakech descend on the Ourika Valley. Those seeking an off-the-beaten-path and more authentic experience head to Ouirgane.

4: Cascade d´ouzoud

The most amazing waterfall in the Atlas Mountains and a simple day trip from Marrakesh

Ouzoud Falls, another popular day trip from Marrakech, is one of the most eye-catching spots in Morocco. As the falls, which spill 110 meters over three distinct drops.  Are wonderfully set in a jungle paradise and provide a respite from the scorching Moroccan sun.

There are also a variety of great hiking trails around the valley, as well as many places to dine while enjoying the scenery. The path further meanders down the canyon wall as mist from the waterfall clings to the dense vegetation and cools the air.

Where tourists and locals alike ignore the signs prohibiting swimming in the picturesque pools at the base of the falls. To get you a unique vantage point from which to observe the falls, boat trips are available at very reasonable rates.

5: At bouguemez

Many consider At Bouguemez, located in the northernmost reaches of the High Atlas Mountains. To be Morocco’s most picturesque valley. Wheat and barley fields are irrigated by a labyrinth of irrigation channels descending from terraced slopes. Under the towering rocky summit of M’Goun massif, the third highest in Morocco, is an expanse of green.

The valley is dotted with Berber villages, and their way of life is ever-present. Men care for goats in the foothills. Women harvest produce to carry on their backs, and children dash to and from school. A traditional lifestyle in a gorgeous location

6: At ben hadou & ounila valley

The best location for investigating ruined ksars and kasbahs in the Atlas Mountains

The Ounila Valley flows from the Atlas Mountains to the arid plains just north of the Sahara Desert. It was the caravan route between Marrakech and the Sahara for centuries, and merchants came to exchange goods while the powerful extracted taxes.

The magnificent crumbling homes of Telouet Kasbah and Tamdaght Kasbah. As well as the fortified towns of Anmiter and Ait Ben Haddou, which line the valley floor, contain traces of this influence. It is a breathtaking landscape of imposing ruins at the border of red canyons.

Several films, including Gladiator, Jesus of Nazareth, Kingdom of Heaven, and Prince of Persia, have been filmed here to take advantage of the magnificent landscapes.

7: Dad´s valley

The picturesque red rock formations and verdant oasis

While the northern and western portions of the Atlas Mountains are more verdant and teeming with life, the southern side is a rocky sea. However, in the spring, snowmelt from the High Atlas Mountains collects in rivers and rushes downward, creating deep ravines and dramatic valleys over time. The Dadès Valley is among the most magnificent.

As one approaches from the south, this red rock valley progressively narrows until it is barely wider than the road, twisting and turning upward. The drive to Café Timzzillite is the valley’s most Instagrammable location, but there is so much more to see.

8: Todra Gorge

The red rock canyons provide the most amazing scenery. Todra Gorge is located just two hours east of the Dadès Valley. It is the most dramatic canyon of red granite in Morocco. Red rock is nearly 200 meters high and only 10 meters wide at its narrowest point. It also leads to the Tinghir Oasis, a vast expanse of greenery that breaks the monotony of the desert. Red granite rocks contrast with stunningly swaying green palm trees.

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