Camel treks through the Sahara are available through many tour operators. // © 2015 Mark Chesnut
Feature image (above): National Geographic Expeditions’ Morocco photo tour visits the Sahara. // © 2015 National Geographic Expeditions
Morocco entices the senses in many ways, with the hectic sounds of bustling medinas, the rich aroma of spices used in local cuisine and the stunning landscapes that range from mountains to desert to beach. This northern African nation is also a great place to awaken one’s sense of excitement. Morocco’s diverse geography and well-developed infrastructure make it easy to find adventurous activities to suit a variety of tastes, ages and experience levels.
Many of the most extreme activities take place in the Atlas Mountains. Clients looking for true adventure can find the most options through smaller, specialized tour operators. Marrakech-based Climb Morocco, for example, offers a range of rock-climbing itineraries, including a daytrip from Marrakech that visits either the Ain Belmesk miniature gorge or the Zuhelika climbing area.
The company also partners with The Mountain People, a community of professional guides, mountaineering instructors, mountain leaders and support staff. The Mountain People provides more extreme experiences — including winter mountaineering, ice climbing, adventure trekking and alpine climbing — in the High Atlas Mountains on some of Morocco’s highest summits, including the 13,671-foot Toubkal.
The mountain range is also the setting for another activity many travelers might not realize is possible in Morocco: skiing. January and February are the best times to visit Oukaimeden, the nation’s premier ski destination.
At an elevation of 8,694 feet, Oukaimeden offers seven ski runs and the highest ski lift in Africa. Sweden-based tour operator Pathfinder Travels offers multiday ski tours led by a certified mountain guide. On a smaller scale (but often easily added to more general tour itineraries) is Mischliffen, a mountain town that sits at an altitude of 6,890 feet.
During warm-weather months, the High Atlas can also be explored by bicycle. Freeride Morocco is among companies offering multiday mountain-bike trips through spectacular scenery, with a support vehicle that carries participants’ luggage to each destination along the route.
Clients looking for a less physically challenging way to enjoy Morocco’s scenery can still have memorable experiences. Grup Xaluca, which owns four hotels in Morocco, operates a luxury tent camp in the Sahara that provides camel-back excursions into the desert.
However, rides can be as brief as an hour, and guests still enjoy creature comforts such as private bathrooms and showers back in their tents. Ya’lla Tours USA is among U.S.-based tour operators that include camel excursions as part of itineraries that visit several of Morocco’s most popular tourism destinations.
And for adventurers who want to bring back the perfect visual souvenirs, National Geographic Expeditions offers the Morocco Photo Expedition. The 11-day journey is led by a professional National Geographic photographer who helps participants capture the nation’s natural and cultural beauty.