The adobe buildings of Ait Ben Haddou, a restored casbah in Morocco

The Dades Valley

Morocco's ancient casbah towns were fortress-citadels built by local lords for defensive purposes, with high walls, usually without windows. They were often stopping places for traders and caravans crossing the mountains and deserts of Morocco.

Photo by Brian McGilloway

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Morocco: The High Atlas Trek

High Atlas Mountains, Berber Villages, Marrakesh, Fez, & Rabat

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $4195  
Length: 15 days
Arrive: Casablanca, Morocco
Depart: Marrakesh, Morocco
Lodging: 8 nights first-class and best-available hotels, 1 night Berber house, 5 nights expedition-style camping
Meals: All meals included except 2 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 6 hiking days, 4-7 hours a day, moderate to steep trails, some "river trekking," altitudes of 7,500-10,250 feet (optional hike to 13,343'), mules carry gear
4

Highlights

  • Camping and hiking in the spectacular High Atlas, "river trekking" through narrow, sheer-walled gorges
  • Timeless pastoral villages, dramatic canyons accessible only on foot
  • Optional ascent of Mt. M'Goun (13,343') for breathtaking High Atlas views
  • Distinctive culture of the friendly Berbers
  • Medieval medina of Fez, bustling bazaars of Marrakesh


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

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

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 little changed 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.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4
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.

Days 5-13
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.

Days 14-15
Marrakesh

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)

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 4, moderate to strenuous, according to our trip grading system. It combines easy touring and overland exploration with a moderate 6-day trek. On the trek, we hike at altitudes of 6,000 to 10,000 feet and camp at altitudes between 7,000 and 8,000 feet. The trek involves a good bit of up-and-down hiking (between 1,000- and 3,000-foot gain or loss in elevation per day). For the most part, you can hike at your own speed; the group will spread out along the trail during the day during our 4-7 hours of hiking. The trails are mostly rock, sometimes carved out of hillsides, but some are well-worn from village use. There are some short, steep climbs, and some rough going in dry riverbeds. Our hiking also includes “river trekking,” wading across rivers that are 2-3 feet deep. There is an optional ascent of M’Goun (13,343’) on Day 9. We recommend that you make a special effort to get in top physical shape for the trip. Daily walking or regular hiking, jogging, and stair-climbing, are excellent preparatory exercises.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2015
May 27-Jun 10, 2015  Mark Gordon

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$4195 (12-15 members)
$4395 (9-11 members)
$4695 (6-8 members)
Single supplement: $520
Forced single supplement: $260
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Toubkal Summit Extension
   from: $1795

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations
  • All meals included except 2 dinners
  • Bottled water included throughout
  • Trekking staff
  • Group camping and cooking equipment including dining, sleeping and toilet tents, sleeping pads. You provide your own sleeping bag, rated to 20F, or you can rent a sleeping bag (includes sleeping sheet) from us for the trek.

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare to Casablanca and from Marrakesh, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors, cost of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Sheraton Casablanca Hotel

Sheraton Casablanca Hotel

Day 1 (1 night), Casablanca, Morocco

A comfortable place to unwind after the long flight from the US, the Sheraton is an international-style hotel with well-kept rooms, a friendly bar ...
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Le Diwan Rabat

Le Diwan Rabat

Day 2 (1 night), Rabat, Morocco

Located in Rabat’s embassy district, this hotel is within walking distance of the atmospheric kasbah, medina, and Royal Palace. Here the ...
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Les Merinides

Les Merinides

Days 3 to 4 (2 nights), Fez, Morocco

The delight of this hotel is its view over the city of Fez, which you can enjoy from the terrace bar, listening to the call to prayer echo through ...
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Hotel Chems

Hotel Chems

Day 5 (1 night), Benni Mallal, Morocco

A comfortable, modern hotel with a countryside setting in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, the Chem is surrounded by olive groves and ...
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High Atlas Camps

Days 6 to 11 (6 nights), High Atlas, Morocco

We make hiking and camping in the High Atlas Mountains as comfortable as possible. On the trail, you are accompanied by our experienced Berber guides and all your gear is carried for you (leaving you free to hike with just a daypack to hold your camera, water bottle, jacket, etc.). Our camp amenities include a dining tent with a dining table, chairs with backs and arm rests, camp meals prepared by our highly trained staff, and a toilet tent. Our camp crew takes care of all camp chores and provides picnic lunches each day at a scenic spot. Accommodations are in sturdy mountain-style tents with sleeping pads. On one night before we start the trek, we stay in shared rooms at a small Berber guesthouse that accommodates hikers.

Hotel Xaluca Dades

Hotel Xaluca Dades

Day 12 (1 night), Dades Gorge, Morocco

This 110-room hotel is situated between the Todra and Dades Gorges at an altitude of 5,290 feet. Spacious guest rooms feature a unique African ...
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Hotel Es Saadi

Hotel Es Saadi

Days 13 to 14 (2 nights), Marrakesh, Morocco

With a convenient location in the new section of the city, the Es Saadi is a 15-minute walk from the bustling medina. A five-story hotel built in ...
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Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions option:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is an American who fell in love with Morocco after serving in the country as a Peace Corps volunteer. He has lived in Marrakesh since 1982 and has led numerous expeditions and journeys for us throughout West and North Africa. He loves the “mythic dry sea” of the Sahara and also has a particular affection for the High Atlas mountains and the Berber people who live there. Mark speaks fluent French and is conversant in Berber and North African Arabic, and is intimately familiar with the local customs and culture. And, he is known by so many Moroccans on the street, you would think he had run for mayor in every town we visit! With his wide knowledge and passion for the nature, culture, and history of this mysterious corner of the world, Mark will share with you his enthusiastic insider’s view of Morocco. In between guiding stints in Morocco, Mark enjoys traveling to Spain and has walked the El Camino de Santiago.

Upcoming Trips:

Morocco: Camels to Casbahs, March 21-April 4, 2015
Morocco: The High Atlas Trek, May 27-June 10, 2015

Recent Photo Blog Posts

Client Testimonials:


Mark is an excellent guide. He freely shared his extensive knowledge of the history, geography, culture, food, language, and so forth. It showed that he loved the country and had learned an incredible amount about it in his 30 years there. Diana P., Arlington VA Mark was an absolute pleasure! He has the attributes of a perfect leader, interested in everyone, knowledgeable, straightforward, fabulous sense of humor, indefatigable. We loved him. G. Grossman I’ve done 20 or more trips with WT and other companies and Mark Gordon is right at the top of the list of Trip Leaders. Affable, knowledgeable, entertaining, a great combo. John H., Evergreen CO The experience was everything I had hoped for. I had complete confidence in Mark Gordon’s ability and judgement. The camping portion was excellent and the crew was top-notch. Larry M., Anchorage AK
Camels to Casbahs
Morocco would be fascinating under any circumstances, but Mark made the trip very special. Andy and Billie W., Oakland CA
Camels to Casbahs
Because Mark has lived in Morocco for 23 years, he has a deep understanding of the cultures. The trip ran extremely smoothly. My 3rd WT trip and it was great. Diane G., Glencoe IL
Camels to Casbahs
Mark Gordon was wonderful. I thought he really made the trip. I can’t imagine doing this trip with another leader. Lauren A., Venice, CA Can’t say enough good things about Mark Gordon. Flexible and inventive, charming, funny, and a great story teller with a deep appreciation of the Moroccan culture. A fantastic Trip Leader and a great trip! Cindy B., MD I can’t imagine a trip to Morocco without Mark Gordon. His knowledge of the country and sensitivity to its culture is extraordinary. He must know everyone in Morocco and they were all happy to see him. Virginia W., Danville, CA Mark Gordon is a great leader. He managed to make it all seem easy, and obviously enjoyed the trip, which made it all the more relaxing and fun for us. Also, as a former teacher, he has an excellent ability to pass on information without it seeming like a lecture. Laura B., Seattle WA
Morocco: Camels to Casbah
Mark is a very special person and he made the trip. His ability to explain all aspects of the culture brought Morocco to life. Everywhere we went, from hamlets to cities, Mark was greeted as family by the locals. Furthermore, he was always in a good mood. Don’t let him get away! Marcel F., Santa Barbara, CA
Camels to Casbahs
Mark's knowledge, listening skills, and care for guests were remarkable. He was attentive, helpful, and patient. Elaine A., Carlsbad, CA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark is knowledgeable, personable, a good leader, and fun! There is no better introduction to Morocco than with Mark as your host! Leah S., Albany, CA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark has a remarkable grasp of the country, its culture, its economy, and its language. He made everything easy, interesting, and enjoyable. Gene M., Bedford, NY
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark's love and knowledge of his adopted home is obvious and contagious. He is engaging, a wonderful storyteller, and a lot of fun. Ellen J., New Orleans, LA
Morocco: The High Atlas Trek
Mark is a fabulous trip leader, guide, and host of his adopted, beloved Morocco. He is knowledgable, friendly, helpful, repectful to all, has a great sense of humor, and he really made it the adventure that it was. Jan J., Gilford, NH
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
One of the best trip leaders I have ever had! So knowledgeable and funny. An excellent storyteller that really made the history and facts come to life. Steve H., Atlanta, GA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark is a terrific ambassador for Morocco. He has so much knowledge, enthusiasm, and willingness to share. Kristi H., Orinda, CA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark is the jedi master...a lot of fun to be with and clearly very experienced. Rob R., Savannah, GA
Pilgrim's Way
Mark's rapport with the locals added an extra dimension to this trip. His love for, and knowledge of Morocco added much to our experience. Lee N., Surrey, BC
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark has an incredible knowledge of the country, its peoples and politics, economics and social issues of today (as well as Morocco's complex history). His thoroughness and calm rapport with everyone he dealt with provided our group with a feeling of security at the same time as we experienced many new and different adventures each day. Susan L., Cameron Park, CA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark was the best trip leader I have seen in over 20 years of organized travel. Rich C., Alamo, CA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Clone Mark and his knowledge. He was one of the best guides we've had as we've traveled the world. He has fun stories and he knows everyone, it seems! Kay G., Lincoln, DE
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:

Morocco

Toubkal Summit Extension

Climb the Highest Mountain in North Africa

Hiking / Trekking
5 days  -  Level 5

Client Comments

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 I especially liked the combination of the exposure to the culture, both in the cities and in the mountains, and the trekking experience. David F., Quincy, MA The trip itinerary was exceptional. No other company could match it. And wonderful hotels.  I loved Mark’s command of several languages—French, Arabic, and Berber dialects. Jocelyn S., Arvada, CO
An excellent trip combining cultural sightseeing with mountain trekking that was made all the more beautiful when we added the Mt. Toubak extentsion. Mark P., Middletown, CT The Atlas trek was much more beautiful and memorable than I could have imagined. Seeing and learning about the Amazir, their azibs, transhumance, as well as the isolated valleys was fascinating. Natalie L., Warwick, Bermuda