All you need to know about hiking in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco
Hiking in the Atlas Mountains have changed since the first European expedition conquered Jebel Toubkal in 1923.
Back then the nation of hiking a mountain for pleasure would have been an alien concept for High Atlas Villages. These days, except for in remoter regions, the inhabitants of Morocco’s main trailheads have a good understanding of visitors’ requirements. All the country’s main hiking regions have a principal village or town where you can engage the services of mountain guides, mules to carry bags, and cooks if required.
In all but the very busiest season you should be able to find a mountain guide available for departure the following day. It is important to check that your guide is bona fide. Mountain guides in morocco complete an extensive training course at Africa’s only mountain guide training college at Tabant in Ait Bouguemez Valley and carry a permit that you may ask to see.
In absence of other options, most trekking circuits require you to camp, although certain villages in the High Atlas Mountains offer basic lodging. Some regions have Gites d’etape or Home stay. Such houses are important to the rural economy; studies undertaken in areas of the High Atlas suggest that the revenue generated from lodging 20 hikers on a half-board basis is equivalent to a year’s revenue from agriculture – a good enough reason in itself for staying in a homestay or a gite when possible. Also bear in mind the amount of equipment you must carry when camping.
Trekking without a guide is possible, but only advised for experienced hikers and then only in properly mapped areas as many trails are badly signposted – if at all. It is also worth bearing in mide that a guide can provide insights into the culture of the region – windows onto a world that might otherwise be closed to you – and will act as a translator, which is invaluable in areas where only certain Berber dialects are spoken.
As with all mountainous regions, the weather can be violently unpredictable – hot and sunny one minute, with blizzards and sub-zero temperatures the next – so ensure you pack with all eventualities in mind.
Reliable maps can be hard to find, but a walking map of the Toubkal massif is now available.