EASY TRAVELS IN MOROCCO

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TREKKING ,HIKING AND TOURISM

MOUNTAINS AND VALLEYS OF HIGH ATLAS

UNFORGETTABLE VISITS

ALL Mountains and valleys High Atlas Mountains  OF MOROCCO

 

 

High Atlas, also called the Grand Atlas Mountains (Arabic: الاطلس الكبير‎‎; French: Haut Atlas; Berber: ⴰⴷⵔⴰⵔ ⵏ ⴷⵔⵏ) is a mountain range in central Morocco in Northern Africa.

The High Atlas rises in the west at the Atlantic Ocean and stretches in an eastern direction to the Moroccan-Algerian border. At the Atlantic and to the southwest the range drops abruptly and makes an impressive transition to the coast and the Anti-Atlas range. To the north, in the direction of Marrakech, the range descends less abruptly.

The range includes Jbel Toubkal, which at 4,167 m is the highest in the range and lies in Toubkal National Park. The range serves as a weather system barrier in Morocco running east-west and separating the Sahara from the Mediterranean and continental zones to the north and west. In the higher elevations of the massif, snow falls regularly, allowing winter sports. Snow lasts well into late spring in the High Atlas, mostly on the northern faces of the range. On the Western High Atlas, there is Oukaïmeden, one of three main ski stations in Morocco.

The High Atlas forms the basins for a multiplicity of river systems. The majority of the year-round rivers flow to the north, providing the basis for the settlements there. A number of wadis and seasonal rivers terminate in the deserts to the south and plateaux to the east of the mountains.

The High-Atlas Mountains are inhabited by Berbers, who live from agriculture and pastoralism in the valleys. In the steppe zone of the High-Atlas, where precipitations are low, the locals created a smart technique in managing the low precipitations and the weak soil. They turn the rather semi-arid lands into fertile valleys called locally by Agdal (garden in Berber). This technique has intrigued many Western agriculturalists, in which they were impressed by the high efficiency of this agricultural system. Many scientists, particularly French scientists, make yearly expeditions to observe the community and their living system.

Contents

1 Climate
2 The range
2.1 Western High Atlas
2.2 Central High Atlas
2.3 Eastern High Atlas
3 Areas of interest
4 See also
5 References
6 Line notes
7 External links

Climate
High Atlas

There are two types of Alpine Climates in the High Atlas:

Oceanic climate, dominates the north and south of the Western High Atlas until (Jbel Toubkal), as well as the northern part of Central High Atlas from Jbel Toubkal until Imilchil, owing to their exposition to the perturbations coming from the North Atlantic Ocean. These regions are relatively humid with irregular precipitations but occasionally torrential. Generally, it falls annually between 600 mm to 1000 mm. The drought in the summer months, interrupted by thunderstorms, is usually intense. Snow falls between November and April, but can persist from September to June in the peaks. Important rivers flow through the valleys (Asif Melloul, Oued n'Fis, Oued Tessaout, etc.) supply the fertile basins like Aït Bou Guemez and Imilchil. These conditions allow the existence of pine, oak and cedar forests. However, these forests are declining because of the reducing of annual precipitation, over-exploitation of the trees (used for construction and heating), and sheep-goat overgrazing.

The other type of climate is continental semi-arid or steppe climate, and is present in the southern part of the Central High Atlas, from Toubkal to Imilchil, and the whole Oriental High-Atlas down of Imilchil. These regions are marked by variations in temperatures. It extends southward from the steppe lands into rocky desert. In addition, some localized valleys supplied by irrigation make agriculture possible. Forests are almost rare. This portion of High-Atlas is very similar to the Rocky Mountains in the western United States.
The range
Western High Atlas

In the west lies the oldest portion of the range. Its high point is the Jbel Toubkal at 4167 m, which is visible from the city of Marrakech. Jbel Toubkal lies in the Toubkal national park, which was created in 1942. The massif consists of Jurassic and Cretaceous formations notched by deep erosion-carved valleys. This part of the range includes the Ourika Valley, which is the only location in the High Atlas where the endangered primate, the Barbary macaque, Macaca sylvanus, is found; however, this primate is also found in parts of the Middle Atlas and the Rif, as well as parts of Algeria.[1] The Ourika Valley is also a location where a diverse flora was recorded as early as the 19th century.[2]
Central High Atlas

A solid chalk mass morphologically dominated by tabular zones reaching an altitude of 2,500 m extends from Azilal to Ouarzazate. Here, the contrasting landscapes are similar to Colorado in the United States, with high plateaux, gorges and box canyons, and peaks sometimes splintered by erosion. Several peaks in this area exceed 4000 m, with Jbel Mgoun at 4068 m being the highest peak in this part of the High Atlas. The area is populated by Berbers.
Eastern High Atlas
Village of the eastern High Atlas

The eastern part of the High Atlas forms vast plateaux at high altitude which provide the headwaters for the Moulouya River. It extends from the town of Khenifra and includes oases at Jbel Ayachi (at 3747 m), Jbel Saghro and Jbel Sirwa (3305 m). This portion of the range includes the solid mass of the Tamlelt whose northern edge is occupied by its higher peaks, such Jbel Ayachi at 3,747 m. The altitude falls towards the east where the mountains join the pre-Saharan zone.

This massif became an internationally famous paleontological site after the discovery of the bones of the completely unknown ancestor of the dinosaurs, Atlasaurus, which populated Morocco 180 million years ago. This dinosaur is also named Tazoudasaurus, after the name of the village of Tazouda where it was discovered. The creature, about nine metres long, is postulated to be an ancestor of the Sauropoda found in America. Until 140 million years ago the African and American continents were connected.
Areas of interest

Travel over the high mountain passes is worthwhile. At the foot of the High Atlas one finds Aït Benhaddou, a ksar or fortified village still in use. The ksar has been so widely used in films that it is sometimes referred to as "Moroccan Hollywood".[3]

At approximately mid-range, the Amesfrane Rock Wall rises some 1,650 feet (500 m) from a dry riverbed wadi.[4] The formation is composed of rounded columns patterned with horizontal ridges that occurred as a result of erosion, which caused travellers to nickname it "the Cathedral", for its resemblance to a gothic cathedral.[5]

Among the summits at 1600 m height lies the Kasbah of Telouet on the road to Marrakech.

The canyons and ravines of the Dadès and the Todra are also points of interest.
See also

iconGeography portal Morocco portal

Mediterranean dry woodlands and steppe
Mediterranean woodlands and forests

References

C. Michael Hogan (2008) Barbary Macaque: Macaca sylvanus, Globaltwitcher.com, ed. Nicklas Stromberg
Joseph Dalton Hooker, John Ball and George Maw (1878) Journal of a Tour in Marocco and the Great Atlas, Macmillan and company, 499 pages

Line notes

C. Michael Hogan, 2008
Joseph Dalton Hooker, John Ball and George Maw, 1878
BBCWorldwide (2007-09-17), Desert Film Set - Sahara with Michael Palin - BBC, retrieved 2017-02-11
Scheffel, Richard L.; Wernet, Susan J., eds. (1980). Natural Wonders of the World. United States of America: Reader's Digest Association, Inc. p. 42. ISBN 0-89577-087-3.
UKGE (2016-06-07). "Natural wonders of the Maghreb (Morocco)". Deposits Magazine. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to High Atlas.
High Atlas travel guide from Wikivoyage
Photo Gallery of Morocco and the High Atlas
Accommodation in Im
Atlas MountainsMountain ranges of Morocco

gallery/1024px-atlas-mountains-labeled-2

Morocco High Atlas mountain walking trails Marrakech

There are a variety of trekking opportunities that rival the busy Toubkal region trekking mecca in many ways. The hiking trails we have chosen below are a mix of Berber villages and wilder high country among the peaks and valleys of the front ranges. These are generally short treks for 3, 4 and 5 days and have their own charm and walking challenges in a variety of landscapes. High Atlas trails starting from Imlil 1.5 hours drive from Marrakech are busy with trekkers hiking to and from Toubkal, but just one valley away you will experience quiet villages on high elevation trails linking valley to valley, used by local people going about their daily lives. You will stay in Berber inns (gites) in the villages or wild camp, and mules carry your food and gear so you can travel light and can explore as much as you wish.



Sample High Atlas Walking Treks


Imlil to Imi Ouglad

3 to 5 days - May to October.
Level Medium Easy
Little visited but close to Marrakech - western Toubkal high passes and plateaus, juniper forests, pretty valley villages and farms, ancient hazelnut groves. Choice of wild camping and Berber guest houses.


Western High Atlas

4 days - April to October.
Level Medium
This high elevation circuit starts at Imlil, and immediately traverses over a number of high passes on the front slopes of the High Atlas. High trails descend to remote villages where Berber life goes on unchanged as it has for centuries. Stay are with Berber families and wild camping.

Setti Fatma to Tighdwine

4 or 5 days - April to October.
Level Medium
Near Marrakech, this lovely high traverse across the shoulders and valleys of the snowy High Atlas peaks, east to west, with stays in guest houses. Trails thorough juniper forests, upland passes and Berber villages.



Includes:

English speaking Berber guides,
Mule handlers and mules for luggage,
Cook and kitchen,
Tents and matresses (sleeping bags), refuge shelter or gite d'tape (small Berber inn)
Complete meals during the trek,
(vegetarians welcome),
Treks run with 2 or more trekkers,
Price does not include flights, personal insurance, purchases, and tips,
Transfer costs to and from the trailhead will be calculated according to distance and added onto total cost.
EXCLUDES

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Personal effects

Tipping

What you need to know about trekking in Morocco

Because the High Atlas can involve some challenging elevation gains and losses over continuous passes (2000 m+), most High Atlas treks are rated medium, meaning you should have recent experience hill hiking, carrying a light day-pack, and a tolerance for climate changes. You will need light hiking style shoes or boots with a full-tread sole and good quality outdoor clothing. Spring and fall, snow remains on the high peaks. Nights might be cold and the days can be hot and sunny. We have a list of what you will need to bring below.

Fitness requirements: You should be confident of your fitness and endurance levels. The main recommendation is a sense of adventure! There is no age limit providing that you are in reasonable physical shape and you are aware of the rigors of trekking in higher elevations and have proper travellers insurance. Please make a point of telling us (quietly if you wish) if you have any medical condition/allergies or are on any medication that you think we should be aware of. We are out there for a great time and we want you to feel comfortable in your environment.

Accommodation in villages inns called gites with kitchens, sleeping areas and showers, or dome tents or, since Morocco is one of the the few areas of the world where warm temperatures combine with an absence of insects, you can sleep under the stars. Nothing can compare with a night under the brilliant starlight of North Africa. Tents, mattresses, fully equipped kitchen, food and personal baggage are carried by mules. You carry only a day pack for your water, snacks, camera and clothing. We have a limited number of sleeping bags, so you might be required to bring your own. We'll do our best to help you out with this.

All Food is included on trek and is very healthy, including Couscous, Tagine, fresh eggs, fish, olives, nuts and fruit. Please let us know whether you are vegetarian. Apart from eggs and fish (Tuna and Sardine) often served at lunch time with vegetable salad, there is not a lot of meat and when meat is available, separate dishes such as vegetarian Tagine is prepared.

Bottled water is usually available, but you might need to use your own method to purify water. Occasional villages allow for purchasing good quality bottled water along the way.

Some people like to bring their own treats and food supplements if they have special dietary requirements. If you like to drink herbal teas, bring your own. Moroccan tea tends to be a real energy booster with Gunpowder green mixed with copious amounts of sugar (refreshing and delicious!). Sugarless tea can be requested but not necessarily understood! Make use of your duty free allowance to obtain your favourite tipple.

As we are trekking in high mountains, geological variations create a full range of climatic conditions, which means it can get cold, wet, and windy. Bring a warm fleece and light weight wind jacket and long pants. During the day temperatures are relatively warm or hot, and normal attire with t-shirts and shorts will be fine. On average you can expect daytime temperatures of 20–30+ degrees Celsius.


What To Bring on a Walking Trek

*denotes essential or highly recommended

Pack light and pack tight.
Sleeping bag*
Day-pack *
sunglasses *
water bottles (collapsible bladders pack flat!) *
towel (ghites and refuges don't always have them) *
ziplock baggies *
toilet paper * (buy it in Morocco)
needle and thread / safety pins
camera, batteries, memory cards, or film – bring lots!
sealable bag for your Digital camera* (essential!! for sand/dust)

Clothing
sarong (can double as a towel, lightweight sheet or scarf)
cotton long sleeved shirt (for intense sun) *
light wind-proof jacket
a hat (sun) *
warm socks*
light weight gloves*
lightweight long pants *
2-3 T-shirts
woolen sweater/fleece *
cotton scarf (doubles as a wash cloth)
Hiking boots or hiking shoes*

First aid – make sure you use water proof labelling if re-packaging
disinfectant creme / gel (Polysporin)
bandaids
Ibufrofen (Advil or generic – for pain, swelling) *
Tylenol (colds and fever)
cold medication – Echanacia / zinc lozenges
tweezers
Visine
Aloe vera gel (for burns)
Anti-hystamine tablets
diahrrea medication (Immodium) *

Personal
sunblock *
sanitary supplies with ziplock baggies to carry out
moisturiser / lip balm with sunblock *
simple english books / magazines / music – (cassette tapes are common in Morocco and make great gifts.)
small torch / flash-light (small bicycle lights make good travelling torches)
nail clippers
wet-wipes
soap / shampoo / toothpaste / toothbrush etc *
prescriptions in original containers
ear plugs *

Finally...
Please remember that things do change, prices go up and down, activities stop running or change format and weather can send the best laid plans out the door. We will do our best to provide what is described above but please take into consideration the nature of the journey that you are embarking on and the country that you are traveling in and understand that a certain degree of flexibility is necessary!

M'Goun High Atlas trekking is one of the best Morocco trails to walk and climb.

Situated in the central High Atlas the M'Goun Massif (4068m) is second highest in North Africa to it's more famous brother the Jbel Toubkal (4167m) – higher by just a few meters. Longer trekking distances and variable Sahara weather patterns makes M'Goun the more interesting ascent to the summit.

M'Goun Massif lies between the central plains and the Sahara desert of Morocco. High rounded peaks, massive rock slabs and mud-formed spires overlook vast treeless valleys and sparsely vegetated plateaus. Split by rivers and canyons, the striking expansive landscape provides interesting hiking challenges. With a full 7 day walking traverse of the summit of M'Goun, followed by long descents and ascents through stark valley trails, and one day negotiating a narrow canyon filled with water, you will emerge back to civilisation on the Sahara side of the High Atlas. The nomadic Ait Atta people tribes graze their goat and camel herds at the foot of M'Goun during the summer months; hare and fox, wolf, toads, frogs, vulture, and the rare Bonelli-eagle make this barren land their home. Few trees include poplars, junipers, and scrub willows.

About the M'Goun Trek

Treks run with 2 or more trekkers,
Level Medium - challenging with an ascent to M'Goun summit,
Available July to mid-October
7 Days on trek includes 2 days transport - full High Atlas traverse of MGoun north to south or
5 Days on trek plus 2 days transport - circle route north side of High Atlas with ascent of MGoun or
3 Days on trek plus 2 days transport - circle route north side of High Atlas,
Highest elevation on MGoun 4068 metres and awesome views!

Includes:

Professional english speaking Berber guide,
Transport costs from and return to Marrakech,
All meals (vegetarians welcome),
Accommodation: tents, refuge shelter or gite d'tape (small Berber inn),
Mattresses for sleeping,
Kitchen tent and equipment and cook,
Mule handlers and mules to carry everything,
You carry only your day pack

Not included:
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Tips
Personal purchases
Marrakech hotels

Sample Mgoun Walking Trek

day by day routes may vary depending upon weather and trail conditions.

Day 1
Depart Marrakech to Azilal for lunch. Overnight in Idoukaln Berber village gite near Agouti.

Day 2 – 8
From Agouti you will trek, and see prehistoric rock-carvings from 8000 years ago, amazing views of rock strata, waterfalls and and cold plunge pool, stay in spectacular campsites surrounded by jagged peaks, climb Mgoun, a walkable approach to the main summit (4068m). Descend valleys and slot canyons (300 meters height by 2 meters wide and 50 long) through fantastic landscapes of chimneys, cliffs, and rock pilons. Enter the Saharan side of High Atlas and the rose valley of Mgoun peppered with isolated villages and gardens terraces, watered by gravity defying irrigation systems. Green valleys contrast with stark multicoloured peaks. Descend the river MGoun by a labyrinth of gardens and mountain valley oasis, arriving at the confluence of the river Mgoun and Touzrikt village in Boutagrah.

Day 9
Meet your transport back to Marrakech. If we have time, we'll stop for a vist to Ait Benhaddou world heritage site. Or you can add on 3 more days and continue to the Erg Chebbi, including an overnight by camel in the dunes.


What you need to know about trekking in Morocco

Because the High Atlas can involve some challenging elevation gains and losses over continuous passes (2000 m+), most High Atlas treks are rated medium, meaning you should have recent experience hill hiking, carrying a light day-pack, and a tolerance for climate changes. You will need light hiking style shoes or boots with a full-tread sole and good quality outdoor clothing. Spring and fall, snow remains on the high peaks. Nights might be cold and the days can be hot and sunny. We have a list of what you will need to bring below.

Fitness requirements: You should be confident of your fitness and endurance levels. The main recommendation is a sense of adventure! There is no age limit providing that you are in reasonable physical shape and you are aware of the rigors of trekking in higher elevations and have proper travellers insurance. Please make a point of telling us (quietly if you wish) if you have any medical condition/allergies or are on any medication that you think we should be aware of. We are out there for a great time and we want you to feel comfortable in your environment.

Accommodation in villages inns called gites with kitchens, sleeping areas and showers, or dome tents or, since Morocco is one of the the few areas of the world where warm temperatures combine with an absence of insects, you can sleep under the stars. Nothing can compare with a night under the brilliant starlight of North Africa. Tents, mattresses, fully equipped kitchen, food and personal baggage are carried by mules. You carry only a day pack for your water, snacks, camera and clothing. We have a limited number of sleeping bags, so you might be required to bring your own. We'll do our best to help you out with this.

All Food is included on trek and is very healthy, including Couscous, Tagine, fresh eggs, fish, olives, nuts and fruit. Please let us know whether you are vegetarian. Apart from eggs and fish (Tuna and Sardine) often served at lunch time with vegetable salad, there is not a lot of meat and when meat is available, separate dishes such as vegetarian Tagine is prepared.

Bottled water is usually available, but you might need to use your own method to purify water. Occasional villages allow for purchasing good quality bottled water along the way.

Some people like to bring their own treats and food supplements if they have special dietary requirements. If you like to drink herbal teas, bring your own. Moroccan tea tends to be a real energy booster with Gunpowder green mixed with copious amounts of sugar (refreshing and delicious!). Sugarless tea can be requested but not necessarily understood! Make use of your duty free allowance to obtain your favourite tipple.

As we are trekking in high mountains, geological variations create a full range of climatic conditions, which means it can get cold, wet, and windy. Bring a warm fleece and light weight wind jacket and long pants. During the day temperatures are relatively warm or hot, and normal attire with t-shirts and shorts will be fine. On average you can expect daytime temperatures of 20–30+ degrees Celsius.


What To Bring on a Walking Trek

*denotes essential or highly recommended

Pack light and pack tight.
Sleeping bag*
Day-pack *
sunglasses *
water bottles (collapsible bladders pack flat!) *
towel (Moroccan hotels don't always have them) *
ziplock baggies *
toilet paper * (buy it in Morocco)
needle and thread / safety pins
camera, batteries, memory cards, or film – bring lots!
sealable bag for your Digital camera* (essential!! for sand/dust)

Clothing
sarong (can double as a towel, lightweight sheet or scarf)
cotton long sleeved shirt (for intense sun) *
light wind-proof jacket
a hat (sun) *
warm socks*
light weight gloves*
lightweight long pants *
2-3 T-shirts
woolen sweater/fleece *
cotton scarf (doubles as a wash cloth)
Hiking boots or hiking shoes*

First aid – make sure you use water proof labelling if re-packaging
disinfectant creme / gel (Polysporin)
bandaids
Ibufrofen (Advil or generic – for pain, swelling) *
Tylenol (colds and fever)
cold medication – Echanacia / zinc lozenges
tweezers
Visine
Aloe vera gel (for burns)
Anti-hystamine tablets
diahrrea medication (Immodium) *

Personal
sunblock *
sanitary supplies with ziplock baggies to carry out
moisturiser / lip balm with sunblock *
simple english books / magazines / music – (cassette tapes are common in Morocco and make great gifts.)
small torch / flash-light (small bicycle lights make good travelling torches)
nail clippers
wet-wipes
soap / shampoo / toothpaste / toothbrush etc *
prescriptions in original containers
ear plugs *

Finally...
Please remember that things do change, prices go up and down, activities stop running or change format and weather can send the best laid plans out the door. We will do our best to provide what is described above but please take into consideration the nature of the journey that you are embarking on and the country that you are traveling in and understand that a certain degree of flexibility is necessary!

M’Goun Global Geopark

M’Goun Geopark is located in the middle of the Central High Atlas mountains in Morocco. The Central High Atlas is the highest and largest of mountain ranges in the country. The geological heritage of the Geopark includes outstanding mineralogical and paleontological features, like abundant dinosaur trackways of theropods and sauropodes, geomorphologic sites like the Jurassic limestone bridge Pont d’Imin Ifri, or waterfalls, and impressive conglomerate cliffs.

There is also ample evidence of human occupation since prehistoric times including rock art and artifacts.. Its rich cultural heritage, bears witness to the centuries-old presence of the Amazigh (Berber) people with typical traditional architecture and granaries.

 

MOUNTAINS AND VALLEYS OF MOROCCO'S HIGH ATLAS