Visit the Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Fertile valleys, networks of hiking paths, remote Berber villages and snow-smeared peaks across North Africa's highest mountain range.
The three ranges of the Atlas Mountains create a striking, sometimes harsh barrier between the arid Sahara and Morocco’s milder coastal climate. The middle of these ranges, the High Atlas Mountains, begins close to the Atlantic in Agadir and run in a jagged line northeast through the country, encompassing some of the region’s most authentic pockets of culture as well as offering some of its best opportunities for walking.
The mountains’ broad russet slopes are dotted with scrubby pines and lacy cedars, and the peaks gleam with snow even in the warmer months. Dirt roads and narrow footpaths snake through the otherwise pristine landscape, and in the moist, green valleys you’ll wind past herds of goats, wild herbs and small, remote Berber villages.
Hiking in the Atlas Mountains
A 90-minute drive from Marrakesh, the range is easy to visit and you can opt to explore on foot or in a 4x4. If you choose to hike, there are a variety of routes you can take, from moderate walks to challenging multi-day treks.
One of the most rewarding hikes is up the slopes of Mount Toubkal, the highest point in North Africa. The three-day climb to its soaring summit (4,167 m or 13,671 ft) requires a good level of fitness but no technical expertise. And, at the wind-scoured top, you’re rewarded with seemingly endless vistas of crags and valleys retreating into the distance-hazed horizon.
Visit traditional Berber villages
The Berbers are the original inhabitants of these vast mountains and their civilization reaches back more than eight millennia. Their traditional flat-roofed homes, made from packed stone and earth, seem to have grown from the mountains themselves. They make a living farming and herding livestock, using age-old techniques to live in the fertile valleys between the forbidding slopes.
The modern world has little impact on the villages that cling to the rocky slopes. When you visit, you’ll see a way of life that’s largely unchanged over thousands of years. Because their lives are so closely tied to the mountains, Berbers are respectful of the land. This sustainable attitude translates even to the hotels that have sprung up in the past few decades, ecolodges designed to limit their footprint on the rugged, but delicate, landscape.
This ancient culture is known for being particularly warm and welcoming to visitors, and you might find yourself welcomed into a home for a cup of steamy Moroccan mint tea (nicknamed le whiskey Berbere). You can also opt to spend a day with a Berber family, learning to bake bread, cook meals or create pottery from the red-brown clay.
Best time to visit the Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains are a year-round destination. Between April and October is the best time to embark on hikes, although some may find it too hot to comfortably complete long-distance routes.
The temperature dramatically decreases in winter, and the peaks can receive downfalls of snow. This can make hiking conditions treacherous, however the scenery looks particularly impressive.
Suggested itineraries featuring the Atlas Mountains
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in the Atlas Mountains, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Portugal and Morocco
Morocco and Spain
Map of the Atlas Mountains
Places & hotels on the map
Places in and around the Atlas Mountains
- Ourika Valley The Atlas Mountains
- Marrakesh 56 kilometers away
- Oued Mellah 75 kilometers away
- Ourzazate 99 kilometers away
- Taroudant 118 kilometers away
- The Southern Oases Valleys 127 kilometers away
- Skoura 131 kilometers away
- The Draa Valley 175 kilometers away
- Essaouira 181 kilometers away
- The Dades Valley 186 kilometers away
- The Sous Massa National Park 197 kilometers away
- Zagora 219 kilometers away
- The Anti Atlas 263 kilometers away
- Casablanca 275 kilometers away
- Rabat 338 kilometers away
- The Erg Chebbi 377 kilometers away
- Meknes & Volubilis 379 kilometers away
- Fez 428 kilometers away
Photos of the Atlas Mountains
Our expert guides to exploring the Atlas Mountains
Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting the Atlas Mountains, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate the Atlas Mountains at its best.
Home to North Africa's highest mountain and the stunning Ourika Valley, Morocco is the perfect choice for a walking or trekking vacation in North Africa. We can advise you on the best places to stay to make the most of these wonderful walking opportunities.
Accommodation choices for the Atlas Mountains
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit the Atlas Mountains. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
Just 45 minutes from Marrakesh, Kasbah Bab Ourika is well-situated at the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains. It is in a perfect location for hikes in the stunning Ourika Valley, or to simply relax around the luxurious pool.
Just an hour's drive from Marrakesh, Domaine Malika is ideally located in a picturesque valley surrounded by the majestic Atlas Mountains. Boutique in style, it's perfect for those seeking a chic break in the mountains.
Cradled within Morocco's High Atlas Mountains, yet just an hour's drive from Marrakesh, Kasbah Tamadot blends opulence and tradition, offering a mix of spacious rooms, suites and Berber-style tents.
Perched on a hill-top in the foot-hills of the High Atlas Mountains, Kasbah Angour's rooms are constructed from traditional Moroccan materials and each look out to a range of excellent vistas.
Located at the base of Jebel Toubkal, with breathtaking 360 degree views of the peaks and valleys, Kasbah Du Toubkal is the perfect base for exploring the Atlas Mountains and getting to grips with Berber culture.
Ideas for experiencing the Atlas Mountains
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting the Atlas Mountains, and which use the best local guides.
Arrive in the village of Tassa Ouirgane, situated near the Toubkal National Park at an altitude of 1200m. From here starts the hiking through forests of oaks and Juniper trees to Azadden valley.