Snow-topped for half the year, the High Atlas rise out of the plains south of Marrakech. West to east they stretch across Morocco from the Atlantic coast just north of Agadir until they fade into the desert on the Algerian border. In many ways they are the dominant feature of Moroccan geography, yet the High Atlas are very different from the Moroccan lowlands, socially as well as topographically.
In winter there is scope for skiing, in spring apple and cherry blossom fills the valleys with colour, and in summer the cooler air is a draw for escapees from the oppressive cities. All year round there are good walking opportunities, from short strolls to waterfalls, to serious treks to mountain summits.
In easy day-trip distance of Marrakech, the Toubkal National Park, named after Jbel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa, has long been a draw for tourists. The region also has some good excursions, including the much-visited Setti Fatma, Ourika and the ski resort of Oukaïmeden. The striking, restored mosque of Tin Mal is high on the spectacular road to the Tizi-n-Test pass. Heading south is another striking high pass, the Tizi-n-Tichka, and the village of Telouet with its brooding Glaoui fortress. You can travel on south across the Atlas by road or, in a 4WD vehicle, take the rough mountain tracks from Telouet down to Tamdacht and the famed kasbah of Aït Ben Haddou, just north of Ouarzazate.
Further northeast, in the Azilal High Atlas are the Cascades d'Ouzoud, Morocco's highest waterfalls, and some beautifully remote high valleys, such as Aït Bougmez. Imilchil is the most obvious base for exploring the even more isolated Eastern High Atlas, where there are some great trekking opportunities.
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