While many tourists are very familiar with Morocco’s imperial cities en walled medina’s, such as Marrakech, Fez, Rabat and Mekness, the country’s impressive mountain ranges warrant a visit from anyone who appreciates a scenic and natural landscape. Four impressive and distinct mountain ranges mark Morocco’s landscape: The Rif Mountains, Middle Atlas Mountains, High Atlas Mountains, and Anti Atlas Mountains.
Located in the northernmost part of Morocco, the Rif Mountain range runs parallel to the Mediterranean coast. Though it tends to receive fewer visitors than the country’s other ranges. De Rif Mountains are represented by 3 touristic regions: Cap Nord, the West side of the region Morocco Méditerranée, and the northern part (above Taza) of the region Morocco Center.
Chefchaouen is a popular gateway for travelers who plan to explore the Rif Mountains. For serious trekkers, Chefchaouen often serves as the starting point for a multi-day adventure through the mountains, with nights spent camping or staying in the small Berber villages located throughout the forests. These communities can be difficult to stumble upon independently, so contact a Morocco tour operator if you’d like to spend some time with the area’s Berbers.
Those who prefer to sleep in a hotel bed can opt to spend their nights in Chefchaouen and still get a taste of the mountain ranges via day trips to the nearby Talassemtane National Park, a goldmine of quiet hiking trails through oak, fir and cedar forests with serene views of hills and streams.
The highest peak of the range is ‘Tidirhine’, at 8,058 feet.
Middle Atlas Mountains
North of the High Atlas range and south of the Rif Mountains lie the Middle Atlas Mountains. One options to visit the Middle Atlas mountains is a day trip for people stay in Fez of Mekness. People who want to stay a few longer in the Middle Atlas mountains can opt for a visit from Tazzeka National Park or the Ifrane National Park.
The highest peak in this range is Jbel Bou Naceur at just over 10,000 feet. Decorated with limestone cliffs, cedar forests and deep valleys, these mountains also offer satisfying treks for hikers of varying abilities.
High Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains stretch from the Atlantic through Morocco, splitting in three parallel tracks that form the High Atlas (home to ‘Jbel Toubkal’ and the ‘Mgoun Massif’ of ‘Ait Bougmez’), the Anti-Atlas (home to ‘Jbel Sirwa’ and ‘Jbel Sahro’), and the Middle Atlas (home to the cedar forested regions of Ifrane and Azrou). With more than 400 summits approaching 10,000 feet in elevation, and several over 13,000 feet, the Atlas Mountains offer a seemingly endless array of scenic views.
People who want to stay a few longer in the High Atlas mountains can opt for a visit from the Mgoun National Park. Visits to the High Atlas Mountains can range from a day trip from Marrakesh to a multi-week trek across the range.
As with the Rif Mountains, travelers can spend their nights camping under the stars or enjoying the hospitality available in the scattered Berber villages. Even those who prefer the comforts of hotels can venture into the mountains and encounter these accommodations in certain areas. The village of Imlil, a popular base near Mount Toubkal, offers plenty of resources for mountain tourists, including a large population of guides. If stopping by Imlil, set aside some time to meander through the nearby groves of apple, cherry, peach, and walnut trees.
The highest peak of the range is ‘Mount Toubkal’, at 13,665 feet which is also the highest mountain in northern Africa
Anti Atlas Mountains
Also known as the Little Atlas Mountains, this range dips down into southern Morocco, running close to the Atlantic coast and bordering the Sahara Desert. Like the Sahara, the climate among these mountains is dry, the land is barren and the heat in the summer months can reach sweltering temperatures. The area once experienced intense volcanic activity; one of the popular destinations in the Anti Atlas Mountains is Jebel Siroua, an ancient volcano.
Tafraoute is a popular starting point for Anti Atlas treks. There are fewer developed villages in the Anti Atlas Mountains compared to Morocco’s other mountain ranges, so trekkers should plan well and arrive prepared. Less experienced hikers should consider hiring guides, especially for multi-day treks.