The Atlas of Morocco: majestic mountains
The Atlas of Morocco: majestic mountains
The Moroccan Atlas is, in reality, a mountainous system that runs through the entire northwest of Africa, from Tunisia and passing through Algeria, over 2,400 kilometers. Its highest peak is Toubkal, with 4,167 meters, already in Moroccan territory. The population of the Atlas is mostly Berber, both in this country and in Algeria.
The Atlas separates the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean from the Sahara desert and, in fact, is one of the factors that cause the dryness of this desert. It is divided into three main massifs: the Saharan Atlas, the Tellian Atlas, and the Moroccan or Moroccan Atlas. The latter, in turn, is subdivided into several mountain ranges:
- The Middle Atlas (maximum elevation of 3,356 meters, with the Jbel Bou Naceur)
- The High Atlas (maximum elevation of 4,167 meters, with the Toubkal)
- The Small Atlas or Anti-Atlas (maximum height of 2,712 meters, with the Amalun`Mansur)
Marrakech: starting point towards the Atlas of Morocco
From Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains, with their imposing range and snow-capped peaks, seem like an unreal scenery. However, it is enough to travel 20 km to start unforgettable excursions and discover the grandeur of the landscapes, always new, that these mountains of Morocco hide. Leaving from the southeast of Marrakech, we pass through cozy Berber villages: Aghmat, and Dar Caïd Ouriki… Then follow a road flanked by terraced gardens, along the Ourika oued, to Arhbalou, the best place to choose what you want to see among so much variety.
The excursion to the High Atlas, in Morocco, offers one of the most spectacular landscapes in all of Morocco. In it, some ‘travel companions’ are the palm trees on the side of the road, the limestone ravines that stretch for kilometers, the hills full of greenery that almost touch the horizon, the deep ravines cut by freshwater rivers… Here you can also watch game birds and further on, on the Tichka plateau, you can relax in one of the many hotels in the area.
Another option is to continue towards Oukaimeden (2,600 meters high), the famous winter sports resort, just 74 kilometers from Marrakech. Or, admire Setti Fatma and its centuries-old walnut trees, to bathe in the revitalizing waters of its seven waterfalls. Or (why not?) continue to Annameure, a village of the Aït Oucheg tribe, to rent mules there and climb up to Djebel Yagour, a Moroccan prehistoric sanctuary that prides itself on its 2,000 cave paintings.
To the south, 47 kilometers from Marrakech, along the Taroudannt road, in the typical little village of Asni, merchandise barter is practiced on Saturdays, the day of the souk. Continuing towards Ouirgane, the landscapes evoke North American canyons: impressive gorges lead us to Imlil, a picturesque mountain village. Excursions to the Toubkal National Park, the top of the entire Atlas of Morocco and North Africa in general, depart from here. You can reach the summit (4,165 meters) or up to 3,800 meters high, where the Tazaghaght plateau extends, a desert of stones so high that the clouds can be dominated by it.
To the east of Marrakech are the Ouzoud waterfalls, among the most spectacular in the Moroccan Atlas, where the waterfalls from more than 100 meters high. The oued Méhasseur, over which the natural bridge of Imi-n-Ifri (‘gate of the precipice’ in Berber) passes, cascades between enormous rocks, ending in the lake of the Aït-Aadel dam, in a landscape of stark red hills.
The third and last mountain range, the ‘little’ Anti Atlas, has always been the most unnoticed mountain in Morocco for tourism, but they have been gaining popularity in recent years. Although it is a bit off the beaten track, it actually offers fantastic locations, with excellent climbing sites and nooks full of peace and quiet. The pink color of the walls of Mount Tata combines perfectly with the beautiful waters that run from the mountains, an ideal place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city.