Where to Travel in Morocco

Incredibly rich in history, culture and breathtaking landscapes, Morocco is one of the most exotic destinations that still offer its visitors authentic and memorable experiences. From the sight of a spectacular mountain panorama and the fragrance of the imperial cities to a refreshing dip in the Atlantic coast, to the majestic endless sand dunes of the Sahara desert, Morocco is a wonderful place to travel all year round. No matter which part you visit, Morocco will stamp its imprint on your soul like no other place on earth. Situated only three hours away from Europe, the kingdom of Morocco is a great holiday destination where adventure awaits every type of traveller.

The Southern Morocco and Sahara Desert - Best Travel Destination

The land of sunlight, blue skies and brightly stars at night, and breathtaking scenery of the Sahara desert with awesome sand dunes and quaint oases of date-palm trees, its name conjures the powerful image of Morocco. The Southern Morocco offers an ideal winter destination when escaping cold weather and the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The great south offers a wide diversity of attractions and highlights Morocco has to offer. A visit to southern Morocco is a blend of culturally and naturally rewarding journeys. When on safari, you may experience everything from snow capped mountains to picturesque palm groves and wilderness sand dunes.

Kasbahs of Talouet and Ksar Ait Ben Haddou

Situated along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech, these mud-built fortresses are must-see sights en-route to the Sahara desert. The Kasbah of Glaoui – best-known in English-speaking countries as the Lord of the Atlas – was built during the 17th century. Inside this stunning and crumbling Kasbah visitors can wander through the large state rooms, with dusty pink plaster, painted cedar ceilings and colourful zellij tilework. Home of the Glaoui family who had risen to power of Moroccan south and the western High Atlas in the late 1800s, and who worked with the French in the early 1900s.

Thirty five kilometres away from Talouet is the fortified village of Aït Ben Haddou, this beautiful village is listed by the UNESCO as world heritage site since 1987. Built around the 12th century, Aït Ben Haddou is the most famous ksar that offers a striking example of southern Morocco architecture. Formed by an ensemble group of mud-built dwellings and surrounded by high defensive walls, Ait Ben Haddou has provided an exotic filming location and served as the backdrop for several famous films such as Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, Kingdom of Heaven and many other films. No tour of Southern Morocco is complete without visiting the fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou.

The Valley of Roses

Nestled between the foothills of the High Atlas and Jebel Saghrou Mountain range, the Valley of Roses offers a great diversity of delightfully grandiose natural beauty and presents an opportunity to experience firsthand the inspiring culture of the region. Home to some of the Morocco’s finest mountain scenery, this beautiful lush green valley is truly one of the best preserved valleys in Morocco. During the month of May, the three-day festival of Roses celebrates the annual harvest with exuberant displays of Berber singing, dancing and sword-fighting, along with the coronation of a Rose Queen in a packed open-air stadium. When visiting the town of El Kelaat Mgoun in May, you can observe the impressive process that produces just one litre of rose water from seven tonnes of flowers. Throughout the year, you can visit one of the distilleries and purchase rose water and other derived products. The valley of Roses boasts an astonishingly picturesque valley in southern Morocco which is blessed with fascinating range of rich contrasting sceneries.

The Dades Valley

Situated seventy miles south-east of Ouarzazte, the Dades Valley better-known as the valley of a thousand Kasbahs is one the most beautiful valleys in Southern Morocco. Formed by bizarre rock formations, bright green valleys and rugged mountain peaks where wind, water and geological mayhem have taken millions years of natural erosion to shape some of the Morocco’s most spectacular landscapes. The Dades valley is about half way between Marrakech and Erg Chebbi sand dunes, so makes a great place to stop off on your journey into the Sahara desert. Before reaching the town of Boumalen du Dadès, you can visit the spectacular Dades gorge and its impressive natural formation of rocks known by locals as the known as the Monkey footprints. Here you can take some time and enjoy a short walk along many scenic trails to explore the Dades valley and its charming Berber villages. The waters of the Dades river provide life for a variety of almond, fig, walnut and birch trees on the valley floor offering spectacular contrasts and breathtaking views to the earthen-coloured rocky formations that surrounded the Dades valley.

The Todra Gorge

The Todra gorge or known also as Todgha gorge is the most spectacular canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains. The Todra and the Dades Rivers have carved out through the walls of the High Atlas a narrow canyon called Todra gorge. This 1000 ft gorge is hemmed in on all sides by vertical limestone cliffs and is called Morocco’s Grand Canyon. This breathtaking gorge is a definite must-see sight and the real highlight when travelling to from Marrakech to Merzouga. En-route to the gorges we can discover the verdant oasis of Tinghir, rich with various fruit trees and thousands of date-palm trees surrounded by beautiful mud-built villages and crumbling kasbahs. Stretching about 20 miles long, the oasis of Tinghir is wedged between two mountain ranges, where wind and river erosion have shaped stunning desert landscapes of limestone and clay.

The Draa Valley

One of the most incredible palmeries in South Morocco, the Draa valley is a lush belt of date-palm oases surrounded by dray and rocky landscape, and stretching over 112 miles from Agdez to Mhamid village on the edge of the Sahara desert. The Draa valley is scattered with the fabulous mud architecture of fortified ksour and hundreds of well-preserved kasbahs where the Berbers have been living for centuries. The Draa valley is known also for the Haritine, this name mostly used outside the Draa region to refer to the dark skinned people of Draa which make up the largest portion of its inhabitants who are black descendants from the region of Mali, Niger and old Sudan. Formed by the confluence of the Dadès, Mgoun and Imini Rivers, the Draa was Morocco’s longest river, over 680 miles and it flows from the High Atlas mountains south-east ward to Tagounite and from Tagounite mostly westwards to the Atlantic Ocean somewhat north of Tan-Tan. In nowadays, most of the year the last part of the Draa river after Tagounite falls dry from April to November. The waters of the Draa are used to irrigate palm-groves and small horticulture of orchards and fields along the river providing life for a variety of fruit trees, vegetables, main crops, henna and date-palm trees. The valley of Draa is also famous as the date basket of Morocco and more than 18 varieties of dates grow in this fertile valley.

The pre-history of the Draa valley goes back thousands of years and the many rock-engravings and rock-paintings discovered in the areas around Tazarine, Zagora, Foum Zguid and Tan-Tan proved that the area of the Draa valley has been inhabited since Paleolithic times and maybe more than three hundred thousand years as evidenced by the find of the Venus of Tan-Tan, an alleged artifact of quartzite rock found in Morocco and dating back to the Middle Acheulean period. Situated along the former caravan route, the Draa valley was an important transit point on the trans-Saharan caravan trading routes, as well as an important trading centre for Jewish, Berber, Arab and Christian civilizations. Incredibly rich in history, culture and breathtaking scenery, the Draa valley is becoming one of the top tourist attractions in Morocco. When driving through the Draa valley, there many charming towns and villages to visit including Agdez, Tamnougalt, Tamgroute and Zagora, well-known for its Toumbouctou 52 jours sign, which supposedly tells visitors how long it would take to reach Timbuktu in Mali, by camel.

The Valley of Ziz

Formed by the Ziz River and snaking down through the dramatic Ziz gorges as it flows south to the Sahara, the valley of Ziz is a long verdant oasis of dense expanses of date-palm trees wedged between ancient striated cliffs, which date back to the Jurassic period. This fertile corridor that stretches into the distance as far as the eye can see is home to many date palmeries, orchards and irrigated fields as well as a surprising number of old but well-preserved fortified villages. Starting just south of the Middle Atlas town of Rich, the tremendous Oued Ziz brings to life the southern valley of the Ziz and the Tafilalt oasis before disappearing in the vastness sand dunes of Erg Chebbi.

When travelling through the Ziz valley, the best way to catch real glimpses into the daily life inside the palmeries is to turn off the main road and explore many oasis villages where the traditional methods of farming using primitive tools and the use of firewood for cooking are still used by locals today. Time slows down inside the palm-grove villages and everything seems more laid back than in Morocco’s main cities. Around the Ziz valley and Tafilalt oasis we can discover numerous historical sites and charming towns such as Erfoud and Rissani. Erfoud well-known as Sahara’s Door is famous for its beautiful fossils such as trilobites and goniatites and here we can see tables, fountains, sculptures and basins made of fossil stones. The town of Erfoud has a flourishing marble industry.

A short distance from Erfoud is the town of Rissani, a former major caravan centre. In Rissani we can see the ruins of the ancient Sijilmassa, a medieval Moroccan city that was one of the most important trading entrepôt at the northern edge of the Sahara desert in Morocco. According to many records left behind Sijilmassa existed since 757 AD and the fabled town was important to trade to and from the salt mines of Taoudenni and Taghaza in Mali. The trans-Saharan trade route continued into Niger and Ghana. The Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta stayed in Sijilmasa on his journey to visit the Mali Empire around 1352-1353 and he wrote: I reached the city of Sijilmasa, a very beautiful city. It has abundant dates of good quality. Leo Africanus, mentioned Sijilmassa when he travelled to Morocco in the early 16th century, went to the Tafilalt oasis and found Sijilmassa destroyed. Near Rissani we can see the mausoleum of Moulay Ali Cherif, founder of the reigning Alaouite dynasty of Morocco.

Merzouga and Erg Chebbi Sand Dunes

Set on the edge of the Sahara desert, Merzouga and Erg Chebbi are Morocco’s most beautiful windblown sand dunes that reach 500 feet in height and span an area of 25 kilometers from north to south. The best way to discover these stunning dunes is to set off on an unforgettable camel ride that crosses the rolling dunes of Erg Chebbi where you can admire the finest views over a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand dunes that’s formed into picturesque undulating crests and mountains of sand. Erg Chebbi remains for ever an area of spectacular high dunes that are amongst some of Morocco’s most spectacular natural landscapes. At night one can admire a purely sky full with stars and night out in the open air with moments of real pleasure to discover constellations under brightly stars of the magical Sahara desert. Witnessing a breathtaking sunset and sunrise over the endless sand dunes and spending the night in one of the luxury desert camps with private facilities will give you an up-close and personal experience you will never forget.

Zagora, Tamegroute, Mhamid and Chegaga Sand dunes

One of the absolute highlights of a desert trip to Southern Morocco is visiting the charming towns of Zagora, Tamgroute and seeing the vast Saharan sand dunes of erg Chegaga and camping under the bright stars in a desert tented camp. The journey from Marrakech down to Erg Chegaga sand dunes will take you through a large diversity of ever-changing landscapes. En-route to the Sahara desert you can visit Ouarzazate along the way and then follow the Draa valley and the many oases and crumbling Kasbahs before reaching Zagora on the edge of the Sahara desert. In Zagora, we can make a short break to explore this charming desert town and see its famous Toumbouctou 52 jours sign, which supposedly tells visitors how long it would take to reach Timbuktu in Mali, on foot or by camel.

Outside Zagora, the holy village of Tamegroute is well worth a visit also. This village is known for its unique green-glaze pottery and Sufi Zawiya. Tamegroute has a theological college dating from the 11th century and a distinguished library with its thousands of manuscripts that still on display in the Zawiya today and attract many tourists from Morocco and abroad. The books collected include texts on medicine, astrology, mathematics and sciences, as well as Quranic learning and a collection of illuminated Korans with beautiful calligraphy written on gazelle skins. Leaving the holy village of Tamegroute, we can continue onto Mhamid El Ghizlane the last little town in the Draa valley located about 30 kilometers from the Algerian border.

M’hamid is the main gateway to the largest and wildest desert in Morocco with endless sand dunes that stretching hundreds of miles into the distance as far as the eye can see. Situated 50 kilometres south east of the rural town of M’hamid, Erg Chigaga is only accessible by 4×4, camel or on foot. Another great way to see the Sahara desert of Chegaga is venturing out in a quad bike or on a mountain bike. The easy way to get into the Erg Chegaga dunes in a short time is to travel on a 4×4 vehicle for about one and a half hour’s off-road drive that crosses the rough desert pistes to reach Morocco’s most dramatic desert scenery, an endless sea of shifting wind-swept sand dunes that’s formed into picturesque undulating crests and large Ergs. A short camel ride or walk is long enough to give you the opportunity to genuinely experience the majesty of the Sahara desert and discover its endless waves of sand dunes and breathtaking scenery.

Agadir, Tafraoute and the Surrounding Areas

Built on the shore of the Atlantic coast, Agadir is known as one of the best beach cities in Morocco. The name of Agadir is derived from the Berber word meaning the fortified granary or building. The inhabitants of Agadir are mostly of Berber origin and speak Tashelhit, one of the main Amazigh dialects in Morocco. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1960 and has been completely rebuilt under the late reign of Mohamed V. Agadir’s economy relies heavily on fisheries, agriculture, tourism and the production of Argan oil. This beachside city is one of the largest seaside resorts in Morocco, where tourists from over the world and many residents are attracted by its mild year-round climate. For travellers looking for a traditional Moroccan experience, Agadir is not the place we can find it but it is the perfect winter getaway and will pleasantly surprise travellers in search of Western beach resorts promising blue skies, longer days and sunshine during the winter months. Agadir is the ideal destination for every traveller looking to trade cold winter for warm ocean temperatures and sunshine.

Agadir and its surrounding areas is a colourful and diverse country offering keen travellers everything from health retreats, beautiful beaches, outdoor activities and historical sites. Outside the city of Agadir there numerous places to see and visit including la vallée des oiseaux, otherwise known as Bird Valley, which has a wide range of birds, as well as some llamas, goats and other wildlife. To the north of Agadir there are some of the most beautiful wild beaches in Morocco, near Taghazout village to Cap Ghir. These areas are also known for excellent surfing. We can also explore the untouched paradise valley and the Immouzer des Ida-Outanane waterfalls situated a couple of hours from Agadir. South of the city we can visit the Massa Lagoon and enjoy a short trek around the watery edge on designated paths. This lagoon is considered the best reserve in the country and one of Morocco’s most important bird habitats, as hundreds of species reside there and travel to the location during the cooler parts of the year.

Travelling south of Agadir through the Souss plain and over the Anti-Atlas Mountains we will explore the beautiful valley of Ammlen and the lovely town of Tafraout well-known for its painted blue rocks. Nestled in a valley among the Anti-Atlas Mountains, Tafraout oasis is one of the Morocco’s most precious treasures. You will have to drive some 100 miles from Agadir on scenic winding roads to get there and once you arrive, you will realise Tafraoute is worth the effort. Set against a backdrop of incredibly shaped volcanic rock formations and surrounded by red-granite dramatic mountains, this hard-to-reach town is one of Morocco’s most relaxing destinations and the ideal base to explore the Anti-Atlas region. Outside Tafraoute we can discover the Amlen valley well-known for both its Almond and Argan trees. The Almond Blossom Festival is celebrated annually in the second week of February and this is a great time of year to experience the Berber culture and the beauty of the region when the almond trees are blossoming. Keen travellers who enjoy travelling off-the-beaten-treck will find the Ameln valley an absolute pleasure to explore. Here many beautiful Berber villages are built on the lower slopes of the Jebel Lekest 2359 metres, where experienced and casual walkers can stroll along the valley from village to village and spend days wandering round the 26 villages of the Ameln valley, admiring the brightly painted houses and mosques.

Tiznit, Mirleft, Sidi Ifni and Plage-Blanche

Tiznit is one the most famous cities south of Agadir, well known for its silver jewellery and renowned as one of the best places in Morocco to find locally made Berber jewelleries. Located 15 km from the Atlantic coast, this beautiful town was founded by the Sultan Hassan I who settled in the area in 1881 to exert his control over dissident Berber tribes of the Souss. Tiznit is surrounded by amazing red-ochre mud-built walls. With its long history of expert silversmiths, a sightseeing tour of Tiznit will take you through the Medina’s alleyways with blue-doored shops, windows full of silverware and surrounded by amazing red-ochre mud-built walls. You will get an insight into the unique culture of this town, experience local life and visit the must-see attractions Tiznit has to offer, including the jewellery souk and some silver workshops that catch your eye and take time to look around and bargain to get the best prices. Each year, thousands of local visitors and tourists alike come here to explore Tiznit’s solid silver jewellery market, designed and crafted by Berber local artisans.

A short distance from Tiznit we can explore the unspoilt fishing villages of Mirlfet and the Berber town of Sidi Ifni inhabited by the Ait Baamran tribe. Mirleft is a small Berber town located where the Anti-Atlas Mountains meets the Atlantic Ocean. Her we can discover many beautiful sandy beaches Mirlfet has to offer such as Legzira, Sidi El Ouafi, Tamahroucht and Imin Turga. This quiet fishing village is known for its stretching sandy beaches and high waves and considered as a paradise for surfers. In 1476 the present-day Sidi Ifni was occupied by Spain, which named its settlement there Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequeña and remained in Spanish hands until 1524 when it was captured by Saadian rulers. Following the Spanish-Moroccan war, Morocco ceded Sidi Ifni and the territory of Ifni to Spain as a part of the Treaty of Tangiers in 1860 and since Morocco obtained its independence in 1956, he claimed the territory in various occasions and Spain relinquished Sidi Ifni to Morocco in as late as 1969. Sidi Ifni hosted a large Spanish population and today visitors to Sidi Ifni can see crumbling Spanish-built fortifications, signposts and funky European art-deco architecture next to traditional Moroccan homes. Like most of Morocco’s coastal towns south of Agadir, Sidi Ifni has a mild climate year-round and the summer months is the ideal time for swimming, surfing and kite boarding when the water is warmer and the wind picks up. Sidi Ifni still has plenty of activities, sights and scents to beckon any traveller wanting to visit one of Morocco’s remote seaside towns with lots of charm, character and history.

Further south is Plage-Blanche or the white beach is a name given to this 40-km long beach by the Spanish navigators. Completely different to anywhere else in Morocco, this vast swathe of white sand with very few signs of human habitation is an isolated beach in the midst of an ecological park, ideal for getting away from everything and spotting some Moroccan wildlife. When you reach the Plage-Blanche you are rewarded with amazing sea views and a profound sense of isolation offering you a real escape to one of Morocco’s less-visited places where the peace is only broken by the sound of the waves on the shore and the occasional flamingos flying overhead. This is Morocco in the wild, with no hotels, no restaurants, no camel rides, just you and your thoughts on a vast stretch of undulating white sand tucked between the mighty Atlantic Ocean and the enormous Sahara desert. In the vicinity of the Plage Blanche we can explore also the beautiful towns of Guelmim and Tan-Tan.

The High Atlas Mountains

Stretching over 460 miles long, from the Atlantic coast to the Algerian borders the High Atlas is North Africa’s greatest mountain range with more 12 peaks exceeding 13000 feet and some 300 summits exceeding 3000 metres above sea level. Mount Toubkal locally known as Jebel Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa culminating at 13671 feet. With many of the most stunning and culturally-interesting places in Morocco being inaccessible by car, walking and trekking or biking are often the best ways to experience what many feel is the true Morocco. The population of the Atlas Mountains are mainly Berbers and they are the indigenous inhabitants of Morocco.

From spring to late autumn, the High Atlas is a real paradise for avid hikers and first-time walkers alike. The scenery is wonderfully changing and includes dramatic mountain ranges, green and lush valleys, traditional Berber villages, high pastures with mysterious Neolithic rock-carvings, spectacular gorges and canyons, towering peaks, pristine lakes, year-round rivers, waterfalls and the resilient people of High Atlas, who are just as authentic as the landscape. Whilst trekking, biking and rock climbing are the main activities in the High Atlas from March to November, the highest ranges are regularly covered in snow from October to May, meaning that skiers, winter climbing and ski-trekkers will not be disappointed. These mountains hide some of Morocco’s most remote villages, inhabited only by Berber shepherds and farmers. Visiting the Berber villages of High Atlas will show you what life has been like in Morocco for centuries and the people in High Atlas are welcoming, allowing you to take part in their culture and current everyday life. Wherever you go in the Atlas Mountains, something magnificent, interesting, enjoyable and refreshing awaits you.

Mount Toubkal and the Surrounding Valleys

Being the highest peak in North Africa, Toubkal known by local Berbers as Jebel Toubkal is the goal of many adventurous hikers and mountain climbers who would like to take in the view from the Roof of North Africa and get their head above the clouds. The summit of Toubkal at 4167 metres, offers breathtaking views at 360° in all directions, to the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Siroua, to the Marrakech plains and the row of sharp granite peaks that surround this highest mountain. While most of hikers wanting to climb the highest peak in Morocco take 4 to 6 walking days to fully acclimatise before climbing Toubkal, the very fit trekkers can reach the summit in three or 2 full trekking days. The ascent of Toubkal is rated moderate to challenging with an average of 10-12 miles, including 5 to 8 hours of hiking per day. For winter climbers, the ascent of Mount Toubkal becomes more technical and harder.

The Valley of Imlil

Imlil valley is best-known for its surrounding high mountains, charming Berber villages and year-round rivers creating a network of fertile green valleys and wisely cultivated terraced fields. Imlil is a good departure point for many short walks and long treks around the toubkal national park. Just a couple of hours from Marrakech, Imlil village is the base for trusted mountain guides and muleteers who work in the areas surrounding Jebel Toubkal. This small Berber village has several good places to stay, a scattering of local restaurants and lots of souvenir shops selling carpets, Argan oil, fossils and jewellery. Thousands visitors from far and wide come here in spring and early summer to scale Mount Toubkal or to trek in the foothills around. A walking holiday to Imlil and its surrounding villages and steep-sided valleys will offer you a deep insight into the daily life of the hardy and friendly Berber people, whose culture, traditions and way of life has changed little over centuries.

The Ourika Valley

Ourika is the most famous valley in the High Atlas Mountains. This beautiful ever-green oasis bounded high peaks rising to over 3000 metres above sea level is the popular getaway for travellers wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and for first-time visitors who would like to discover the Atlas Mountains, see authentic mud-built villages, encounter the Berbers and learn about their culture and way of life. Each year, thousands of local visitors and tourists alike come here to explore this stunning valley. A day trip to Ourika valley will give nature lovers the best chance to explore many charming villages, visit the small waterfalls at Setti Fadma, share a cup of mint tea and have lunch with a Berber family. There also lots of souvenir shops selling beautiful carpets, pottery, Argan oil, fossils and jewellery at keen prices. 45 minutes’ drive from Ourika, we can discover Oukaimden, Morocco’s most famous ski resort as well as the remote valley of Oussartek that remains the less-visited valley in the massif of Toubkal.

Ait Mizane, Imnane and Azzaden Valleys

For the High Atlas finest scenery with fewer tourists, Ait Mizane, Imnane and Azzaden valleys offer the best getaway for visitors who would like to explore some of the dramatic landscapes and breathtaking views away from the well-trodden routes. In these stunning less-visited valleys you can explore many hillside Berber hamlets and catch deep glimpses into the inspiring culture and traditions of the Berber people living in the peaceful valleys of the High Atlas. Departing Marrakech on a full-day trip, you can hop inside an air-conditioned vehicle for a 2-hour scenic drive into the High Atlas. Once reaching the stunning mountains of High Atlas, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a short walk or just continue admiring the ever-changing scenery through you car window with plenty of stops to take pictures if you prefer not to walk. Here you can explore a great diversity of natural beauty, venture into the lush valley carved into the Atlas’ foothills, soak up epic mountain landscapes, pass emerald-green terraces, fruit orchards, and along the way, visit one of traditional Berber houses to sip mint tea with the locals and learn about the original inhabitants of Morocco.

Berber Villages of High Atlas

A visit to the Berber villages of the High Atlas will take you back in time for hundreds of years offering you the best chance to experience first-hand the Berber culture, encounter the friendly Berber people and learn about their traditional customs and way of life. Best-known as the indigenous inhabitants of North Africa, the Berbers make up more than half of Morocco’s population, but only recently have their language and culture been recognised in 2011, when his majesty Mohammed VI announced that Berber would be recognised as an official language of Morocco. Interestingly, it is the fascinating culture, traditions, history and way of life – music, crafts and tribal customs of the Berbers – that most tourists visiting Morocco come to see, and in many ways responsible and sustainable tourism can help to encourage the revival of this incredibly rich and ancient culture.

The daily life in the Berber villages of High Atlas continues today as it has been for hundreds of years ago giving those who are passing through a glimpse into cultural history and current every-day life of the friendly Berbers. Morocco has been the home of the Berbers and their written history began about 1100 BC when the Phoenicians from sailed to Morocco and founded trading posts along the North African shores. When the Arabs arrived in Morocco in the 7th century, they found a country inhabited by the fiercely tribal Berbers who have lived in Africa since the second millennium BC. Prior to the Arab invasion in the 7th century, Berber people were either: Christians, Jews or Animists. Culture and local customs which constitute the lifestyle of each Berber community have been passed on from generation to generation in order for the people to continue living like their ancestor. The Berber culture and traditions in Morocco are very tribal, and differ from region to region in their spoken dialects, dress, cuisine, art, music, dancing style and other cultural components.

Mount M’goun and the Surrounding Valleys

M’goun also known locally as Ighil Mgoun at 4068 metres is the second highest peak in Morocco beyond the toubkal massif. Geologically very different from the Toubkal mountain, M’goun is largely an eroded sandstone and limestone massif morphologically dominated by high plateaux reaching an altitude of 2900 metres. Here, the contrasting landscapes are similar to Colorado in the United States, deep gorges and box canyons, and peaks sometimes splintered by erosion. Several peaks in this area exceed 3000 metres, with Jebel Mgoun at 4068 metres above sea level being the 4th highest peak of the High Atlas. The landscape is less harsh than other areas of High Atlas, with a bit more vegetation and many prosperous fertile valleys and year-round rivers. Located in the central part of the High Atlas, Jebel Mgoun is remoter and lesser-visited than the Toubkal areas.

Situated 4 hours’ drive from Marrakech, the Ait Bougmez valley is the ideal starting point for trekkers wanting to scale the Mgoun summit. The landscape is widely divers and adventurous hikers can experience a real sense of wilderness. Home to some of the Morocco’s finest mountain scenery, this remote and rarely visited part of the High Atlas offers a great diversity of delightfully scenic and dramatic wild landscapes. Here, you can hike through many excellent walking trails, along snow- fed rivers, gorgeous box canyons, and wide lush valleys, barren slopes of scree and over high passes offering breathtaking panoramas. The treks to Mt M’goun cover paths from north to south and everything between. While walking away from the well-trodden paths you will have the best opportunity to discover isolated stunning mountains, charming Berber villages and encounter the nomadic shepherds with their flocks of sheep, goats and camels, moving to high pastures during the summer months.

The Ait Bougmez Valley

The valley of Ait Bougmez nicknamed the Happy valley by its inhabitants, is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful valleys in central high Atlas. This lush remote valley attracts visitors in search of a mountain escape – off the beaten path – that combines natural beauty and inspiring rural culture. The inhabitants of Ait Bougmez have managed to preserve their arduous traditional way of life that closely follows the seasons. Based on agriculture and animal husbandry, the farming land is intensely cultivated in precise geometric patterns that form intricate mosaics on the fertile valley floor. Clusters of mud-brick and fortified houses are scattered here and there. The Ait Bougmez valley has hosted thousands of trekkers for years and the many Berber-style gites and family-run guesthouses sprinkled along the valley have offered all the comforts of home, with en-suite rooms. For nature lovers looking for easy-paced and relaxed walking holidays, the happy valley of Ait Bougmez is the best place to go. Ait Bougmez will guarantee you a memorable vacation and authentic experiences, whilst providing a real taste of Berber culture.

The Red Valley of Tassaout

Within Morocco’s High Atlas is a hidden valley known as Tassaout. This beautiful valley is largely unexplored and remains one of Morocco’s best-kept secrets. The Tassaout River rises at the foot of the Tarkaddit plateau and its abundant waters roll deep in a lush green valley where nature is fierce, making access difficult for the picturesque and rustic villages of rammed red-earth houses and shepherds huts. It was not until 2014 that the Tassaoute region got its first road that could remain open all year-round. Sometimes the road could be closed for months from December to March due to the harsh snowy winters. For hikers in search of new places and rarely visited areas, the charming valley of Tassaout is one of the best places to go for a trekking holiday. Apart from the scenic natural beauty of the Tassaout valley, visitors can discover many striking reddish earthen fortified dwellings built as family homes, barns and fortified granaries. The local architecture features multiple floors and large flat roofs, which are used for drying grain and walnuts, or for sleeping outdoor during hot summer nights.

Best-known as the most beautiful village in the entire high Atlas, Megdaz is the birthplace of Mririda-n-Aït Attik, a female Berber poet born in the early of the 20th century. Mririda was an illiterate woman with an incredible ability to compose traditional oral poetry in the Berber language. Her poems were put to paper and translated into French by René Euloge, who was a civil servant in the 1930s. Euloge arrived to Demnate in 1923 where he worked as a teacher and gradually immersed himself in the culture of Berber tribes of the Atlas Mountains. Euloge published poems of Mririda as Les Chants de la Tassaout or the Songs of de Tessaout.

M’goun Gorge or Taghia

Situated in the central High Atlas, Mgoun gorge is the most spectacular canyon Morocco has to offer. This area is characterised by impressive natural formation of rocks and dramatic gorges known by locals known as Taghian-Mgoun where wind, water and geological mayhem have taken millions years of natural erosion to shape some of the Morocco’s most breathtaking landscapes. Zig-zagging mule trails link villages in the valley of Ouzighimte and follow the Mgoun River snaking down through narrow high-walled mountain gorges to the wide-open valleys of Mgoun and Dades. Mgoun canyon and its surrounding areas boast earth-toned colours and a variety of stunningly rock formations that bring to mind picturesque scenery of America’s great west. The Mgoun year-round river flows southwards towards Skoura and Ouarzazate creating a network of fertile green valleys. Attracted by water and farmland, the nomadic Berbers have settled here for thousands years and built beautiful villages along the verdant valley of Mgoun.

Zaouiat Ahensal and Taghia Gorge - Yosemite of North Africa

Located 4 and a half hours’ drive from Marrakech, Zaouiat Ahensal is a remote and less-known valley hidden away in the High Atlas. Taghia is the most famous place in the area and the best climbing spot to go a rock climbing adventure trip. The Taghia gorge provides the tallest climbing walls in Morocco with multi-pitch bolted routes up to 800 metres long and many others are around 600 metres. Taghia is a small Berber village in the valley of Zaouiat Ahençal, and the village consists of a few dozen buildings surrounded by overhanging red limestone walls and peaks up to 3000 metres high. However Taghia village is remote with no tarmac road for access and it requires a 4×4 vehicle to gain access to the valley which truly an adventurous experience. The best time to visit the Taghia gorge is from early April to the end of October but it can get hot during the summer months of July and August. In the last few years, Taghia gorge has become the ideal climbing location for a number of well known and professional rock climbers coming from far and wide. Taghia is also ideal for non-climbers who want to explore some of the most spectacular areas of the High Atlas, and while rock climbers are busy on the limestone walls, non-climbers can enjoy spectacular hiking around Taghia gorge and the surrounding valleys. Visiting the Taghia will offer all visitors an opportunity to experience some unforgettable and challenging climbing as well as get a deep glimpse into the traditional way of life and fascinating culture of the inhabitants of High Atlas.

The Anti-Atlas Mountains

Stretching over 460 miles long, from the Atlantic coast to the Algerian borders the High Atlas is North Africa’s greatest mountain range with more 12 peaks exceeding 13000 feet and some 300 summits exceeding 3000 metres above sea level. Mount Toubkal locally known as Jebel Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa culminating at 13671 feet. With many of the most stunning and culturally-interesting places in Morocco being inaccessible by car, walking and trekking or biking are often the best ways to experience what many feel is the true Morocco. The population of the Atlas Mountains are mainly Berbers and they are the indigenous inhabitants of Morocco.

Jebel Saghrou - Sarho

Saghro well-known also as Jbel Saghrou is a dramatic volcanic mountain range in southern Morocco, situated between the High Atlas Mountains and the Sahara desert. Almou n-Mansour is the highest peak of the range at 2712 metres above sea level. Considered since the mists of time to be home of the nomadic Berber tribe of Ait Atta, Jebel Saghrou boasts an astonishingly picturesque mountain landscape in southern Morocco which is blessed with a wonderful climate. This wild volcanic range is a truly paradise destination to go hiking for a winter sunshine trek. Many walking trails will take you into the heart of this semi-desert range, amongst rocky peaks and through occasional green oases where you can admire the finest views over the volcanic Mountains of Saghrou surrounded by lunar landscapes of jagged peaks, rocky plateaux of volcanic pillars and deep canyons, charming oases of date-palms, fig and almonds trees. Jebel Saghro offers an ideal escape from the cold winters into a warm climate and completely undiscovered dramatic scenery. Saghro is sparsely inhabited by the Berbers and the only notable towns are N’kob and Tazzarine. Hundreds of nomadic families who still practicing the transhumance spend the winter months with their livestock in middle of this harsh mountain range.

Jebel Siroua or Sirwa

Lying between the High Atlas and Sahara desert, Jbel Sirwa is an old stratovolcano and isolated range to the south of Jebel Toubkal. Reaching a height of 10,839 ft above sea level, Jebel Sirwa is the highest peak of the Anti-Atlas. In the heart of this remote corner of Morocco, the indigenous Berbers still maintain a traditional way of life based on agriculture and grazing their flocks of sheep and goats, farming almonds, barely and saffron. Here Berber women hand-craft the most beautiful Moroccan carpets in their houses. The Berber inhabitants of Jebel Sirwa cultivate saffron in the lower lands of this range and October to November is the harvest season and you might like to join in and find out how time consuming it is to gather this valuable delicate spice. From December to late March snow usually covers the summit of Jebel Siroua and the best time to go for a trekking holiday in this hidden corner of Morocco is from late March to late May and from late September to early November. A trekking or biking holiday in this remote area of Morocco will take you through a large diversity of natural beauty and awe-inspiring lunar scenery with a wide range of volcanic features, including numerous craters and lava plugs, high ridges and deep valleys. Jebel Sirwa will guarantee keen hikers and avid mountain bikers some of the most inspiring landscapes the Anti-Atlas Mountains have to offer.

Taznakhte are the main towns at the foot of Jebel Sirwa, home to the Ait Ouaouzguit Berber tribe, famed for their impressive hand-woven rugs in a wide variety of sizes, designs and colours to suit any home decor. Nestling in the Anti-Atlas on the main road from Taroudant east to Ouarzazate, Taznakhte is a small town of hand-made Berber carpets and the most beautiful rugs of the region of Ouarzazate are woven in this little town and the surrounding Berber villages. Since 2014, Taznakht celebrates its Festival of Ouzawguit Carpet and this festival aimed to promote local products, providing professional training to local women in marketing and offer an opportunity for women’s cooperatives to commercialise their handcrafted rugs. Not far from Taznakht en-route to Agadir is the town of Taliouine is widely famous for the cultivation of Saffron called red gold. Taliouine becomes one of the main exporters of this world’s most expensive flower worldwide and each year during the month of November, the town celebrates Anmugar Amadal-n-Zafran, meaning the International Festival of Saffron – Saffron flowers between October and November. Numerous local shops, cooperatives and boutiques sell Saffron along the route between Taznakhte and Taroudant and if you are visiting the area at this of the year you can see locals picking the flowers at dawn around the hills and villages near Taliouine.