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: $3995  
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.

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

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

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)

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

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

2016
Jul 30-Aug 13, 2016  Mark Gordon

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$3995 (10-15 members)
$4395 (5-9 members)
Single supplement: $420
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Toubkal Summit Extension
   from: $1495

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $600
90 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Up to 91 days prior to departure: No charge!
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

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.).

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation to the arrival and from the departure cities listed below. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2016 Departures

Arrival:
Casablanca, Morocco
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:
Casablanca, Morocco (airport code CMN)
Suggested arrival time: by 5:00 pm
Departure:
Marrakesh, Morocco
Date: Day 15

Suggested Airport for Departure:
Marrakesh, Morocco (airport code RAK)
Suggested departure time: anytime

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.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Ali Ait Ichou

Departure Dates:

Ali Ait Ichou was born in the heart of Morocco’s High Atlas and spent his childhood  up in the high mountains of Berber country. Coming down to the modern side of  the Moroccan kingdom, he attended high school and university in Marrakesh, majoring in English at the University of ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Mark Gordon

Departure Dates: July 30-August 13, 2016

Having lived in Marrakesh, Morocco, since 1982, Mark Gordon has led numerous expeditions and journeys for us throughout West and North Africa, and we’re excited to have him lead our expedition to Oman in 2016. Originally from America, Mark fell in love with Morocco after serving in the ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

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