Hike in the Atlas Mountains – a Wonderful Day Trip in the Nature
A long stay in Marrakesh can be overwhelming. The city filled with colours, smells, sounds and buzzy atmosphere that lasts days and nights. Luckily just outside of the city gates lies a completely different world. Full of natural wonders, kind people and easy paced life. Just 2 hours drive will take you to the breathtaking scenery of Atlas mountains, the highest mountain chain in North Africa. Take a day trip from Marrakesh and a enjoy beautiful hike in the heart of the Moroccan Atlas mountains.
How to organise your day trip
This trip is totally doable by yourself. But to reach the best treks, you will need guidance. So we recommend doing it as a tour- preferably private. It will be just you and your guide telling you stories about the region, its people and lead you through the most scenical paths.
We decided to book a tour via viator and we were very happy with our choice.
Not only everything was neatly organised, the whole trip went also very smoothly and thanks to our guide Ibrahim, we discovered the hidden gems of this part of the country. We had lots of fun, hiking to 2 incredible waterfalls and felt safe at all times.
A Few Stops on the Way
The tour started at 9 am when we were picked up from our riad.
The first stop was just 20 min ride away and it was the unfortunate part of our adventure day…
The Camel Ride
We knew that this day trip included a camel ride and were really excited about it as we have already done it in Jordan. We had amazing memories from it – camels were well taken care of. They only had one ride a day, and their owner treated them with kindness and respect.
You can read more about our incredible journey in the Jordanian desert Wadi Rum.
However here we have to admit that those rides are just tourist traps. Nothing more. It’s nor pleasant, nor fun. We found out too late and it’s our bad. We tried to do something about it, trying to convince the owners to loosen up the ropes of the camels already during the ride and forced Ibrahim after to translate my request. Talking to the people on the camp, we tried to make them give the animals more rope, literally. But they assured us that the camels were taken care of and were used to this… And there was nothing else we could do.
We made this mistake and regret it. I encourage each of you to learn from our mistake and not to increase those animals suffering. We know that there aren’t wild camels any more. But those in service of the people can still be used without being overworked and hurt.
The Argan Oil Feminine Cooperative
Later on we have continued our drive toward the argan oil production centre, run only by women. This cooperative is giving local women jobs that provide secure income. In Morocco, women still do not have the same rights and are not treated equal to men. But in those cooperatives, they can earn some money and spend time in a safe environment. Also, any purchase made in one of those centres goes entirely in supporting women independency and their project. Argan oil is widely used in Morocco for all kind of purposes- in cooking or as beauty products with many health benefits.
Depending on what tour you chose, you will probably end up in a different feminine cooperative. There are a few on the way and different tours ended up in different centres. But along the way, you will already enjoy the beauty of the Moroccan landscape, and of the unique and traditional Berber’s villages.
The Local Market
Later on, the tour took us to a local market, happening just once a week- on Saturdays. Variety of products can be found- from shoes, clothing, cleaning and beauty products to vegetables, cheese, spices… And live chickens and not-so-live goats heads… ☠️
We always remind ourselves on trips like that, that we are only guests in those countries. We are here to observe and learn about their culture and life, but we are not here to judge. Even if we disapprove on some behaviours or practises.
Onto the Atlas valleys
Continuing our day trip toward the Atlas Mountains, we finally left the main road and started approaching our hike location: the 3 valleys.
The Asni Valley was the first stop. The natural beauty of the landscape and incredible views of snowy picks of Atlas Mountain were simply breathtaking. Strong summer sun bathed the valley and reflected the snow on the picks of Atlas Mountains, visible in the distance. The whole play of shades and colours was magical. It seemed like time had stopped and it was just us, lost in the moment in this strange, but welcoming country.
We were not the only ones that fell in love with this landscape. Sir Richard Branson purchased a land at this exact spot and built a luxurious retreat.
Our guide dropped us off at the berber village Imlil from where we started our 2h hike. The walk was very easy and doable by anybody. It leads through a small hill toward a stunning rock formations covered with yellow flowers. We passed few donkeys and praying locals and made our way to the stunning Imlil Valley and 2 waterfalls. It was a moment to relax and take pictures.
Later on our hike continued through the mountains and we were able to enjoy more of the astonishing views.
Lunch was served at a local Berber village and it was a delicious moroccan salad and one of the best chicken taijine we ever had (vegetarian option upon request).
After eating we have waited for our guide and driver to finish their prayer and headed back to Marrakesh. We were tired but filled with adrenaline and emotions after a wonderful day in the mountain side.
Duration & Cost
9h total, from 9AM to apx 6PM
50 EUR per person, all included (private car, pick up, lunch, guide, tour, camel ride)
Is it worth it?
Absolutely! The hike in the Atlas Mountains was a great activity and whole day trip was relaxing, fun and easy – a perfect getaway from the hustle of Marrakesh.
There are two other great day trips you can take from Marrakesh: Agafay Desert & Ait Ben Haddou.