A trek through the spectacular High Atlas Mountains is not just one of the most scenic hikes in the world—it’s also an immersion into the culture of the Berber people, Morocco’s original inhabitants. Few roads penetrate this craggy mountain stronghold, where the agrarian way of life has changed very little in a hundred years. As we trek, we see Berber women in brightly colored dresses tending fields amid picturesque mud-brick villages, and higher up, we meet nomadic shepherds in summer pastures. We often visit homes to share a cup of mint tea with these friendly, open, mountain people. The trek is strenuous, but scenic grandeur abounds, from towering limestone peaks to sheer red-rock canyons. Our journey also explores Fez, a fairytale city whose medina still looks much as it did a thousand years ago, and we relax post-trek in the garden city of Marrakesh, where fabled bazaars beckon with their henna and kohl sellers, trance healers, and tarot card readers.
A well balanced trip with a blend of culture and mountain trekking and exactly what I was looking for. Mark Gordon’s knowledge and passion for the High Atlas mountains and Berber culture was exceptional.
— Terry W., New York, NY
Casablanca / Rabat / Fez
We enjoy Casablanca and Rabat, then head for the glories of ancient Fez, nestled in a high valley and resplendent with minarets and domes. Fez' medina dazzles the eye and the senses: it's a completely preserved and thriving medieval Arab city.
The Atlas Mountains
We drive across the Middle Atlas into the High Atlas, overnighting in a Berber home on Day 6. The next day we start our 6-day trek, walking through picturesque Berber villages into high pastures, crossing a 10,240-foot pass with views of snowy Mt. M'Goun, North Africa's second highest peak (with an optional summit hike), and encountering herders tending their camels and sheep in beautiful canyons. This dramatic red-rock country is stunning, and one day's hike takes us through a gorge whose 4,000-foot-high walls are only 10 feet apart in places! On occasion, the young people of Tiranamine village come to our last night's camp to share their music and dance.
The 13,000-foot peaks of the High Atlas make a magnificent backdrop for fabled Marrakesh, an immensely beautiful and charismatic city. This vibrant city has been a metropolis for the tribes of the High Atlas since the 11th century. We discover Marrakesh on foot and by horse-drawn carriage, and depart on Day 15 (or join our Mt. Toubkal Extension)