High Atlas Mountains

Morocco

The Atlas Mountains near Marrakech, Morocco

Experience The high Atlas mountains

The Atlas Mountains in Morocco are located about 60 minutes drive south of Marrakech city. This is the duration of the drive to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. You then begin the incline up to reach the high Atlas Mountains. The total drive time from Marrakech city to the high Atlas Mountains is about 90 minutes duration. This makes the Mountains a great option for Things to do in Marrakech.

the atlas Mountains foothills

To reach the Foothills of the Atlas Mountains, you drive south of Marrakech, experiencing the change of the surroundings from the city to the rural countryside of the Marrakech area.

I’ll make a note here about The Atlas Mountains foothills. Taking the route south of Marrakech city, you approach the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and the road continues directly up into the Mountains. Setti Fatma in the Ourika Valley is also known as being located at the Foothills of the Atlas Mountains. However, the village of Setti Fatma is accessed from Marrakech along the Route d’Ourika, which is a different road. The two roads are quite a distance apart.

View of the Atlas Mountains Morocco

Ascending the Atlas mountains

As you continue your journey, you see the Atlas Mountains getting closer, as you approach them.

Driving up into the Mountains, you’ll find that the roads are narrow and winding, but the views of the surrounding valley below are awesomely exciting.

At this point, it’s really important for me to make a note to you that this really is not an ideal drive for those who don’t like heights, narrow, winding roads and views of large drops into valleys below directly at the roadside.

Having said that, if you are not concerned about this type of experience, then you will definitely be rewarded with some incredible sights.

The Atlas Mountains are located such that they separate the Atlantic Ocean from the Sahara Desert. The Atlas Mountains which you can see in Morocco are in fact a small part of the entire range – which spread for 2,500 Km across Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Morocco definitely has the advantage, with the Jbel Toubkal, which is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains. The Toubkal is a very popular destination for Atlas Mountains treks.

Asni Village

Travelling up to the high Atlas Mountains, you’ll pass along various small villages and settlements. The first well known village which you will arrive at is the Berber village of Asni.

The Atlas Mountains are predominantly populated by the Berbers of Morocco, who’s ancestors originated in Countries such as Libya, and settled in Morocco, and, later, moved to the Atlas Mountains and built the settlements.

Asni in the Atlas Mountains is one such Berber village, which is also home to the exclusive Hotel Kasbah Tamadot, which is part of the Richard Branson Hotel empire.

Kasbah Tamadot, Asni village Atlas Mountains

Asni, as well as the other parts of the high Atlas Mountains, enjoys a cooler temperature than Marrakech in the valley below. In the summer, you’ll generally find the temperature to be 3 to 4 degrees cooler. This makes the high Atlas Mountains a very welcome break for some in the hot Moroccan summer months.

During the winter, the mountains, due to their height are often covered in Snow and the temperature plummets. I need to make a note to you here that during the winter months, it is sometimes possible for the roads which climb up to the heights can become blocked with Snow, making the already winding and narrow roads icy, which are sometimes impassable.

Imlil Village

Around 20 minutes drive onwards, is the high Atlas Mountains village of Imlil.

Imlil is perhaps the most well-known village in the Morocco Atlas Mountains. Over the past 20 years, the village has grown considerably, with a range of Riads and boutique Hotels being build and opened to cope with the demand created by the rise in tourism to Morocco. Despite this, Imlil still remains a very attractive, quiet and peaceful village to visit.

Atlas Mountains Imlil Village  - A father and son take care of their Donkey

If trekking in Morocco is your thing, then you’ll find plenty on offer in Imlil as it is a very popular starting base for multiday Atlas Mountains treks. There is a substantial amount of official Morocco Mountain guides based in Imlil, as well as trekking supplies services. It’s possible to rent or buy most essential trekking supplies in Imlil.

One of the most popular high Atlas Mountains treks is the Toubkal trek. This trek is typically endured over a 3 day duration, which includes reaching the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains.

Ouirgane Village

Let’s go back to the Fork in the road at Asni, and take the other route, which after about a 20 minute drive leads us to the Village of Ouirgane. This village is deeper into the high Atlas Mountains and is equally as beautiful, though, is also less visited than it’s more well-known counterparts.

Things to take with you

Here are some items that we advise you to take with you when visiting the high Atlas Mountains.

  • Sunscreen in the summer months
  • Flat shoes
  • Hat (for those of us who don’t have much hair on top)
  • Sunglasses
  • Neck protection – to protect the back of your neck from the Sun
  • Cash – Whilst some Cafes and shops may accept cards, cash is king in these rural areas.

Atlas mountains day trip

There are many different Atlas Mountains day trips on offer, mainly starting from Jemaa el fna in Marrakech city. However, these trips are shared group trips, where you join a group of other tourists on the same minibus and are herded around all together. Whilst these trips can be very cheap in price, you have to follow the set itinerary of the group and there is no flexibility to enjoy the trip in your own way or to stop off at a location that you see as being interesting.

Our Atlas mountains day trip

Our own Atlas Mountains day trips are private excursions, where you do not share the vehicle with other people. In this way, you can travel privately with your own family or friends, without being disturbed by other people in the same vehicle.

There are a myriad of different itineraries for this type of day trip and you have the freedom to enjoy your own choices. However, the most enjoyed itinerary includes visiting both Asni & imlil.

As the journey from Marrakech city to Imlil is a drive of about 90 minutes, this type of trip from Marrakech is best enjoyed as a day trip of at least 7 hours duration. Looking at this a little closer, it’s best to schedule 3 hours for travelling to and from Imlil, which provides a stay in Imlil of about 4 hours.

Most people find this to be a sufficient length of time. On this trip you could allocate around 30 minutes to enjoy Asni and a further 3 and a half hours to enjoy Imlil.

Naturally, you could decide to have a shorter stay in Imlil if you need to get back to Marrakech sooner. This is ideal if you just want to experience the Mountains.

In the Village of Imlil you’ll find the village centre to explore with small shops and Café’s. Lunch, drinks and snacks are available to buy in the Café’s and it is here that you can truly experience some local Berber cuisine – far from the tourist Cafés of Marrakech.

Imlil Is a great place to explore and experience the beauty of the Moroccan countryside.

With this day trip, it is possible to include a guide to accompany you on a walk around the village or even a 2 hour hike around the surroundings. This is a great experience as you will see all of the trees, flowers and plants that this region has to offer.

The guides are resident in the Atlas Mountains, so, it is also a great opportunity to take some time to discover about the Berber lifestyle in the Mountains from a local resident.

Of course, if you prefer to enjoy exploring the village by yourself, this is also possible – you’ll simply meet your driver back at the vehicle at a pre-agreed time. From then, you can visit any other nearby location or begin your journey back to Marrakech.

Our Atlas Mountains day trips include executive quality vehicles for your travel, as well as pick up directly from your Hotel, Villa or apartment. Naturally, if you are staying inside Marrakech Medina, there are some Riads which are not directly accessible by Vehicle, so your driver would meet you at the nearest possible pick up location.

An excellent advantage of booking our day trip is that we are very flexible with the start time, to suit your own schedule.

High Atlas Mountains top tip

Our high Atlas Mountains day trip is a private trip, with a flexible start time. During the summer months, when the sun sets later, you might like to start the trip in the afternoon, continuing into the evening, arriving back into Marrakech before darkness.

Your driver, is your personal driver for the day. If you see somewhere en-route that you would like to stop at to take some photos, or you need a comfort break, just ask your driver and he will be happy to provide.

We also encourage independent sightseeing, so you can enjoy the experience yourself, rather than being accompanied by a guide telling you loads of facts all of the time. This way, you and your family or friends can enjoy the day in your own way. Though of course, if you would like a guide to join you in Imlil, we do offer this as an option.

The schedule in the Imlil area can be made your own.

The duration of the day trip is usually around 7 hours in total, from pick up – Though, you can decide to arrive back at your Hotel earlier if you wish.

Atlas mountains day trip summary

  • Private executive quality transport
  • Professional driver
  • Complimentary on-board Wifi
  • Fully air conditioned vehicle
  • Personal service from your driver
  • Pick up from and return to your Hotel
  • Start time flexibility
  • Possibility to optionally include a local guide
  • Possibility to optionally take a 2 hour hike with a guide.
  • Possibility to optionally include a Camel ride

View Atlas mountains day trip prices

Imlil and Asni day trip