EMBARK ON A BREATHTAKING RIDING ADVENTURE IN THE HIGH ATLAS MOUNTAINS
Discover the horses, deserts, and nomads that make this country unique, setting out on horseback into the depths of the Sahara aboard a stunning Arabian stallion.
This ride is far off the beaten track, starting at the foot of Jebal Toubkal which towers above you at over 4000m above sea level. Start your adventure with a night at an eco-lodge which offers incredible panoramic views of the desert scenery and mountains beyond, giving you a glimpse of what awaits you on this true horseback adventure.
The stables are situated at the lodge and here you will be introduced to your trusty steed who will take you on the adventure-of-a-lifetime. The herd is made up of Barb and crossbred Barb/Arabians, mostly stallions. As with any trail ride, there is a mix of paces. You will soak-up your surroundings with some slower riding as you traverse the steep slopes and mountain ridges. However, the fertile valleys reveal wide tracks which are perfect for fast canters and occasional epic gallops! The riding is for those who are confident in the saddle, able to control their mount in open landscapes and ride at a fast pace. Canters on trail usually start in line before spreading out later in the week once your mounts have settled into the ride.
The trail takes you along the red ridges of the mountainside to the alpine forests of the Kik Plateau. In the spring, you might still get a glimpse of snow on the highest peaks and the water runoff creates valleys of alpine blossoms and rich plant life, a stark contrast to the red desert earth. Here you will discover Morocco’s hidden villages, perched on the edge of the mountainside and offering a glimpse into a pastoral culture that has not changed much over the last 100 years. The trails are often steep and rocky, requiring you to dismount and lead your horse over the narrow tricky paths. At this high altitude, a ride here is not recommended for anyone with a fear of heights – but if you can conquer your fears, you will be rewarded with incredible views!
This is not a luxury ride, but for the intrepid riders, it offers a true escape into the remote areas of this mountain paradise. 5 nights on trail will be spent camping in some of the most remote places in the world. Each night you will help set up your two-person dome tent and lay out your bedding. Relish in a warm bucket shower while the camp cooks prepare a traditional feast over the fire. A typical dinner would begin with hot and cold salads, followed by a hot tagine served with couscous or flat breads, all with a delicious smokey flavour. Fall asleep delightfully tired after a long day in the saddle and wake up to the sound of you horse nuzzling your tent, waiting to be saddled up for the adventure ahead.
- Fast, fun and challenging riding on fit Arabian and Barb stallions
- Experience the contrasting landscapes of the Moroccan High Atlas: Green valleys, the arid Kik plateau, red mountains, snow-capped peaks and deep riverine forests
- Become immersed in the heart of Berber culture, riding through traditional stone villages perched on the mountainside surrounded by terraced farmland and sleeping in bivouac tents
- Ride along beautiful mountain passes with splendid panoramic views of the High Atlas before cantering across the open plateau
READ MORE REVIEWS
”I just finished an incredible ride in the Atlas Mountains out of Marrekesh. Seeing Morocco on horseback is the only way to be able to absorb the culture and beauty of this country, in my opinion. I always feel fortunate that I have the skills to see the world this way. We rode through villages with no roads for cars, rode steep ascents and descents, and waved to the village kids when riding through. There were a few fast canters, but not the point for this ride. Mohamed and crew were wonderful, charming, hospitable, helpful, so fun and funny. The food was fresh and healthy and delicious. I can’t say enough about the horses. Fit, smart, sure footed, and responsive. Beautiful too. On to my next adventure in Botswana, then onto South Africa for a third ride all back to back, booked through the helpful crew of African Horse Safaris. Amazing so far!GretchenHigh Atlas Trail, Morocco
The following is the proposed itinerary but please note that changes are possible due to weather and local conditions. On occasions the itinerary may run in reverse or you may be in the saddle for longer durations than stated below.
You must be willing and able to groom, saddle and bridle your own horse. It is important that you are a competent rider, capable and in control at all paces. You must be able to post to the trot and do a two-point canter. The terrain is varied to include steep ascents/descents and there may be holes to avoid. Riders need to have a good level of general fitness and not have a fear of heights or suffer from vertigo as some of the trails can be tricky. You need to be able to mount and dismount your horse whilst on rocky paths to assist your horse during hard climbs and tricky descents.
You will be met at the airport in Marrakesh. If you arrive early in the day then you will be met by a driver and normally taken to downtown Marrakesh where you can have lunch and explore (your bags will be kept in the vehicle) before joining others who have arrived on later flights. You will then be transported to the lodge.
The road takes you into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, and to the gates of the Toubkal National Park. Your first night will be spent at the eco-lodge, Terres d’Amanar, where the stables are based. You can stay in the traditional lodge or tented accommodation, combining natural materials and comfort. The lodge offers exceptional panoramic views over the villages and the mountain peaks. Spend your first evening by the fireside, admiring the stars and the lights of Marrakech which sparkle in the distance before dinner with your fellow adventurers.
After a hearty breakfast taking in the mountain views, you will walk down to the stables. Here you will meet the rest of the camp team and your steed. You will have a short introductory ride to get to know your horse and check compatibility.
Set off westwards towards the foothills of the Kik plateau. The tracks are wide and allow some faster riding so you get to experience all your horse’s paces. You’ll ride along the ridges of the red mountains before setting up camp near the Berber village of Catulte.
About 4 – 5 hours in the saddle.
It’s an early start to your first full day in the saddle. After your camp breakfast, set-off along a narrow path to approach the Kik plateau. The plateau is a limestone outcrop dominated by the chain of High Atlas peaks, some of which reach over 4000m above sea level. You’ll have extraordinary views of Mt Toubkal to the south and the green valleys below, including the glistening Amezmiz and Takerkoust lake.
Riding through this area, you’ll come across traditional villages clinging to the mountainsides. Here you will see people farming and living in a way that has remained unchanged for centuries. Enjoy a picnic lunch after riding through the Tizi N’ousaud Pass. Follow a trail through the pine, oak and juniper forests to set-up camp near the village of Tinzerte, around 1300m above sea level.
About 5 – 6 hours in the saddle.
Today you ride through the Tassa Ouirgane, a valley of rich soil and sparkling water within the Mountains. Ride through olive groves and traditional crops which benefit from this ideal climate created by the higher altitude. Continue through the Wadi Azaden, one of the most picturesque valleys of the Toubkal massif. The region is home to some of the most beautiful Berber villages in the High Atlas.
Enjoy a picnic lunch at the edge of the Wadi Azerfssane and then ride along the Azzadne valley mountain paths to reach the Berber village of Tiziane. Here you will overnight in a traditional cottage or set up camp.
About 5 – 6 horse in the saddle.
Start the day by ascending the Tizi N’Oudide pass at 2100m and then drop down to the village of Matate in the valley of Ghighaya. Picnic at the edge of the Wadi Aguerssiwal, and then after lunch cross the saddle of the Aguerssiwal Pass at 1500m. The riding can be tough, but the tree covered mountains and view make it worthwhile.
Ride through the valley of Imnane and enjoy the high mountain atmosphere and endless views. Your camp is at the base of the Toubkal massif at Tacheddirt, the highest Berber village in the Atlas Mountains at around 2350m above sea level. The mountain peaks of Aksoual rise up above the camp creating an impressive backdrop.
About 6 – 7 hours in the saddle.
It’s an early start today and you’ll need a good breakfast to get you though the long day ahead. Today you ride over the highest pass of the trail, riding between the walls of Angour and Oukamaidento, crossing the Tizi n’Addi Pass at 2910m above sea level. This may involve a hike and you will have to help your horse over some of the tricky sections. You will be rewarded with splendid panoramic views of all the High Atlas and Toubkal – the roof of Morocco!
After the very tricky narrow path, the track thankfully opens up allowing you to pick up the pace to reach the pastures of Oukamaiden. Here you will enjoy a well-deserve picnic lunch in the pastures while your horse grazes. Then there is a final climb up Tizi N’Oukaimeden pass to access the western side and then descend along a beautiful track overlooking the plains of Haouz to reach your camp near Ifghane.
About 6 – 7 hours in the saddle, and about 1-hour walking.
Continue descending to the lower valleys and into Asni, the capital of the region. Saturday is the Souk (market) day and you will meet many mules and donkeys along the way laden with all kinds of treasures. Follow a path through a forest of junipers and oaks to reach your picnic spot in the shade of the Aleppo pines at the foot of Jebel Choucht. After lunch there are some brilliant tracks for a last long canter before finally returning to the stables at Terres d’Amanar. Enjoy a swim before your last meal with your fellow adventurers.
About 5 – 6 hours in the saddle.
After a last hearty breakfast and some last free-time at the lodge, you will be transferred to the airport. If time allows, you might have a few hours to explore Marrakesh en-route.
Terres d’Amanar is located in the Hight Atlas Mountain, at 3,938 feet high near the natural reserve and 30 kilometers from Marrakech. The eco-lodge has comfortable rooms and traditional tents that are simple but functional and in-keeping with the environment. The restaurant offers berbères specialties cooked from local and seasonal produces and the lodge is decorated with local crafts and materials from the surrounding villages. Enjoy the hotel swimming pool, large fireplace, library and gardens.
The remaining nights will be spent in tented camps which are moved on each day. A support vehicle meets you each day for lunch and then goes ahead to set-up camp. When camping you stay in two-person dome tents with a porch area for baggage. Comfy mattresses are supplied, but you will need to bring your own bedding. Normally everyone helps with the setting up of the tents. There is a large mess tent for eating and relaxing in the evenings. There is also a separate shower tent and you are provided with a large bucket of hot water for showering.
FOOD AND DRINK
All meals are included and will be traditional Moroccan dishes. Lunch is usually cold whilst dinner is a hot meal. A typical dinner would begin with hot and cold salads, followed by a hot tagine which may be served with couscous or flat bread. Water is provided but other drinks are payable locally. Please bring metal water bottles and not plastic.
Alcohol is not provided and not easily purchased during the trail, nor is it always sold at the smaller riads or guesthouses. There are some shops where you can buy alcohol in Marrakesh but the choice is very limited and can be expensive. You can bring your own alcohol from home or buy from duty-free if you wish.
The Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains are North Africa’s highest, known by local Berbers as ‘Idraren Draren’ (Mountains of Mountains), and an adventure paradise. The three ranges create a striking, sometimes harsh barrier between the arid Sahara Desert and Morocco’s cooler coastline. The middle of these ranges, the High Atlas Mountains, begins close to the Atlantic Ocean and run in a jagged line northeast through the country. The range includes Jebal Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa at 4167m above sea level. Here you will find some of the region’s most authentic pockets of Berber culture, who live from agriculture and pastoralism in the valleys as they have for centuries.
HOW WE CARE FOR OUR HORSES
Our horseback adventures are hand-picked for their quality and care of their horses. Here’s how the horses are kept in tip-top shape for your safaris. Our horses are on top of the hierarchy and receive very special care:
- The horses are mainly Barb and Arab Stallions which are well trained, fit, forward going and well-behaved on the trail
- The tack is good quality English-style or trail saddles that are fitted to each horse and cleaned daily
- The stables are airy and designed in a traditional way with the horses in mind. On the trail the horses sleep out in paddocks or on a picket line near the tents
- Water and food are brought by vehicle and the horses get 2-3 hard meals, plus plenty of roughage to eat during lunch stops and throughout the night
- Riders groom and tack up their own horses on the trail but there is always an experienced guide to assist where needed
- The Morocco herd is moved throughout the year to different trail locations. This allows them to follow the cooler weather and avoid desert summers or cold mountain winters