Going to the Atlas Mountains is truly a remarkable adventure. The Atlas mountains are about 1 ½ to hours from the city of Marrakech. The Atlas mountains are a huge difference from the city life of Marrakesh. It’s a great way to get a different side of how the Berber people live in the mountains. It is drastically different from Marrakech. It’s much calmer, less busy, and a lot less hectic than Marrakech. So taking this tour to the Mountains in Morocco was a welcome change.
This day trip to the Atlas Mountains was one of the highlights of my visit to Morocco. It is also one of the most popular day trips that people take from Marrakech.
Maybe you want to visit the Atlas Mountains to climb Mt. Toubkal. Which, Mt. Toubkal is the highest mountain peak in North Africa, standing at 4,167 m.
Another reason you may want to take a day trip to the High Atlas Mountains is to get away from the hectic streets of Marrakesh for a more relaxed atmosphere.
No matter your reason for traveling to the High Atlas Mountains, it is an incredible place to see.
Here I will share the full itinerary of our Day trip to the Atlas Mountains.
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Booking the Day Trip with Tripadvisor
It was rather difficult trying to figure out what excursion I wanted to choose for a tour of the Atlas Mountains. Being that there are so many options. However, I decided to go with Art de Cuivre company because of the amazing reviews I saw on Tripadvisor. Plus, Art de Cuivre offered a variety of versions of itineraries for the High Atlas Mountains.
I ultimately chose this one because I thought we would get the best of everything. The tour is called the Atlas Mountains and Three Valleys & Waterfalls – Camel Ride Day Trip from Marrakech.
So with this tour, we get a little taste of everything, from riding camels in the Agafaye desert to hiking in the Atlas Mountains. Also, getting a chance to visit Berber villages, see a gorgeous waterfall, and visit a Women’s Argan Oil Cooperative.
I booked this activity about a month before we visited Morocco. I wanted to make sure that it didn’t fill up before I could reserve my spot.
If you would like to book this tour, click here.
Once you are on the site for the Atlas Mountains day trip, you will select your date. Then choose if you would like a private tour for $70.82 for each person, or select the group tour for $33.05 each. We booked the group tour because it’s cheaper and sometimes it’s fun connecting with other travelers and meeting new people. After that, you can just download your ticket to your phone. If you have an iPhone, you can add it to your wallet. Easy Peasy….
Why book with Tripadvisor
I love using Tripadvisor because you can see reviews (good or bad) from real people sharing their authentic experiences. You can also see all of the beautiful photos that other travelers uploaded, including mine. Also, the people that’s been on the excursion give great tips. Like, make sure you wear good trainers (shoes). And bring bottled water to stay hydrated. LOL.
Full-Day Itinerary of the Atlas Mountains
The morning of the tour
So once I booked the tour, I gave them our Riad accommodation address. They will pick you up from your Riad and drop you off. The morning of our tour, the company emailed me letting me know the time of pickup, which was 0900. However, our Riad was not on a driveable street, so it’s hard to get to. So we got our host to call our the company. Our host then walked us to the main road to meet our tour guide. It was much easier for our host to talk to them in their language.
We got inside a big passenger van, and it was very comfortable. I was glad that it had a working A/C because it’s pretty hot in Marrakech. However, once we were further in the mountains, the driver let the windows down since there was a nice breeze.
Driver and tour guide
Our driver and tour guide showed us around. Our driver didn’t talk much so I didn’t catch his name, but our tour guide Issmail was fantastic. He spoke perfect English, but with an accent of course. And on our way, driving to the Atlas mountains, he spent about 20 minutes outlining our day and giving us the history of Berber culture and the villages.
Within minutes of leaving Marrakech, we could see the change of the scenery outside. We soon left behind the busy streets of Marrakech in the rearview mirror. The scenery changed drastically to a more calm, serene, and country-style of life. It definitely got much quieter on our drive there. And we left the busy cityscape for more open roads, huge deserts, and fields of greenery.
Agafay Desert Viewpoint
About 20 minutes later, we were at our first Stop. It was was at an incredible viewpoint in the Agafay Desert. Here, you will get amazing panoramic views of the rolling hills and dunes of the desert. The driver just pulled up on the side of the road for this quick stop.
We stayed there for about 10 minutes while taking in the scenery. Make sure you have your camera ready. Take advantage because you can get some incredible photos. Our guide even offered to take pictures of all of us. On this trip, I brought my Sony a7 III with me and my remarkable Sony G Lens.
Learn by my mistake, because it took me a lil’ minute to get my camera in good focus. So get that camera ready the night before.
Riding Camels in Agafay Desert
Our next stop was at a ranch in the Agafay desert to ride camels. My daughter and I previously rode camels the day prior, so we opted out. However, my husband and the rest of the group rode camels. They put on traditional Berber clothing and headscarf. And these camels looked so cute and healthy. They seem to be well taken care of on the ranch. They were beautiful dark brown camels. My daughter and I stayed under the patio and admired the Desert as they rode off in the hot sun.
Then our tour guide asked us to ride HORSES!! We were like, whoah, never done that before. So we got hyped about riding on some horses.
So calmly we said, “sure we will take this opportunity to ride horses”.
Now, this was my first time riding a horse. EVER. So, since we were amateurs, one of the workers, Berber man, guided my daughter and me around on the horse through the desert. And man was it was HOTTTT. I mean it would be since we were in the middle of the desert. LOL.
Anyway, I’m happy that we got on the horses because we saw spectacular views of the desert, which we wouldn’t have seen by sitting on that patio. It was a fun experience and the desert terrain was stunning.
The camels and horse ride lasted about 20-30 minutes. Afterward, everyone washed up just in time for some tea. We took a break and drank some tea under the patio. It was a very laid-back start to the day. Then we loaded back up in the van towards the next stop.
Moulay Brahim Village
Our next stop was a relatively quick one, about 5 minutes. Again the driver pulled over on the side of the road. It was safe I promise. We then stood at an incredible viewpoint of the Berber village Moulay Brahim. Moulay Brahim is near the Asni Valley. Here you will get a chance to see the traditional Berber Villages in the distance and the beautiful mosque standing high above the town.
Kasbah Tamadot in Atlas Mountains
Next, the driver pulled over to see Kasbah Tamadot in Asni.
Kasbah Tamadot is a luxurious spa hotel owned by Sir Richard Branson. Who is Richard Branson? He’s the founder of the Virgin Group (Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, etc.). TBH. I didn’t know who he was either until I googled him…LOL
Our guide informed us that this resort is a place where celebrities like to stay. Shoot, I would love to stay in this luxurious hotel while being surrounded by mountains too. If I ever get a chance to revisit Morocco, I will definitely reserve a room here.
Anyway, the reviews for this place online are outstanding and the pictures I saw are breathtaking.
The 28 rooms are beautifully decorated individually in a unique decor. There are various types of rooms to choose from suites, family rooms, or a room with a mountain view.
It seems like this hotel is full of amenities too. They have a luxurious spa. There are several different massage treatments offered here. They have all of the amenities of a resort, including a gym, sauna, hot tub, plunge pool, etc.
Additionally, there is a restaurant on the grounds and guests have said the food is impeccable.
To top it off, they have minibars and a poolside bar. It has a beautiful outdoor pool overlooking the Atlas Mountains.
If you have a more extended stay in Morocco, then staying here may be worth your wild. It’s secluded and an escape from city life.
If you would like to book this tour, click here.
Time to get our grub on
Our lunch was in Ait Souka Village at a Berber restaurant. We made it here about 10 minutes past 12. But I also think he said it was a guesthouse as well, but IDK. It just looked like a small restaurant to me that had about 3 floors. We went to the terrace to sit down to eat. There we had stunning views of the valley and the mountains. Luckily it was a beautiful sunny day. The scenic view of Mt. Toubkal was breathtaking.
Now, let’s get back to the food. So, Morocco is notorious for its robust spices. There are so many delicious foods to try in Morocco. During lunch, we had a traditional Berber meal. First, they brought out fresh tomato salads as the starter.
Next up was a yummy Chicken Tagine dish with tomatoes, potatoes, and other veggies. It came out piping hot and was scrumptious. The meal also came with traditional Berber bread AKA Knobz and a large bottle of water.
The food is delicious. The chicken stew was juicy and tender. All of the spices in the dish were super good.
If that didn’t make us full enough, they brought out a fruit basket with bananas and apples. But we couldn’t eat anymore. So, bring your appetite.
The cost of the lunch was 65 Diram (their dollar) each or 6 Euros. It was totally worth it.
It’s time to hike through the Atlas Mountains
Hiking Imlil Valley
After lunch, we set off for our hike through Imlil Valley. Imlil valley is a small village at the foothills of the tallest peak Mt. Toubkal. Imlil Valley sits at 1500 meters. Travelers and hikers usually start their hike in Imlil to ascend Mt. Toubkal.
We first got to see the irrigation of water supply for agriculture. It’s like an open stream of water you’ll see flowing throughout the village. You’ll probably hear it before you notice it’s there.
Along this hike, you will see a lot of greenery. You’ll see big beautiful trees in the valley. Some are Walnut trees that are grown and sold in abundance here. They also grow apples and cherries in the Atlas Mountains.
The hike is rocky terrain and dirt, with some narrow paths to get through. For the most part, we had to walk one behind the other.
The hike is fairly easy. However, you would have to have a decent level of fitness to get through the climb. I think this hike is one of the easier climbs compared to the other routes that people hike. You also need to be careful walking down the mountain village as the dirt and rocks can be very slippery.
During our hike, we passed by many Businesses. There were Berber men selling merchandise like carpets. Others were trying to sell spices and jewelry. The spices, bracelets, etc. would just be sitting on some rocks with someone next to the products.
Walking and Admiring
During the walk, you will get a chance to see how the Berber people live. The houses are very modest looking. You’ll see the homes that are in the mountains with tiny doors. Some houses are sitting on top of the rocks with stairs made of the rocks leading up to them.
We saw Berber women and kids watching us throughout our hike. You’ll see clothes hanging out to dry on lines throughout. I had an awkward moment where I saw this one Berber lady just staring at me. I had modest on clothes with a Kimono, so I didn’t understand the look. Not until minutes later when I realized my blouse buttons had popped open, exposing my bra. I was like like oh, maybe that’s why she was staring. Who knows?
History of the High Atlas Mountains living from a local
Our tour guide, Issmail, lives in Imlil. He talked to us about the Berber mountain life. He added that more than 50 years ago they had a very hard life in the High Atlas Mountains. They had no electricity, no water, no TV, or no gas.
The Berber women could only cook by fire. Berber women had to go out and get wood every day or so for cooking.
The women would also have to wash clothes in the river. He also talked about how he grew up without electricity, and his mom would light 2 to 3 candles to sit down and eat.
They also had to take a mule to the well to get drinking water for the home. In the mountains, the people rely on mules for carrying large loads of products, food, etc. They use mules for transportation throughout the village and to their business too.
Additionally, the men rode a mule to Marrakesh from the mountains carrying goods back and forth. It would take upwards of 4 days for that travel.
Vibing at the waterfall in the High Atlas Mountains
About 40 minutes into our hike, we started approaching the waterfalls. To get to the waterfalls, we had to climb downhill through a narrow path between huge mountain rocks. We then had to walk across a few tiny man-made bridges that one person had to cross at a time. This climb was exhilarating, especially knowing that we would see this glorious waterfall at the end.
Plus, climbing through nature, mountains and rocks is impressive. Just looking at a different side of life of how people live in the mountains was humbling.
Plus, you will love the scenery. The mountains’ landscapes were stunning. This was my first time climbing through any mountains. I was astonished by the beauty of it all.
Then there’s the waterfall. I could tell that this waterfall was a big attraction because there were many people there. Everyone was taking in the view. The waterfall is in a secluded corner where you have to climb down some rocks to get to it. The waterfall is small, but the waters were ravishing down to a small pool of water. It is still a sight to see. Seeing a waterfall up close is a dream.
You’ll probably encounter some people climbing on the rocks to get closer to the waterfall. Some will be in the water as well. You will feel the coolness and the mist of the waterfall raining down. You’ll also hear the sounds of the waterfall like a roaring river flowing.
Additionally, there is a cafe there that serves fresh-squeezed orange juice. It looked so tasty, but I didn’t get a chance to try any. There were also little tables set up around the waterfalls, and people were eating. At the time, I saw a group of Berber women and kids gathered around singing. I mean, it was just a whole tranquil vibe. Like they had no cares in the world, just out enjoying life.
Finishing up the hike in the Atlas Mountains
After that glorious waterfall adventure, we continued on our journey, walking in a different path back towards the van.
We made it further down the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Then passed by a few markets. There were some men working and tending to their mules. We also passed by some more modernized red mud color houses in Imlil.
Our hike was finished at about 2:50 P.M hopping in the van to head back to Marrakesh. Everyone was pretty beat, and some people were taking quick cat naps. I was even drifting off myself. But seeing the beautiful landscapes of the mountains and then the desert kept me awake most of the ride.
If you would like to book this tour, click here.
Argan Oil Co-operative
About an hour later, we made it to the Women’s Argan Oil Cooperative. Here was our last stop of the tour. Here we were greeted by the Berber women with Morrocan Mint tea. They also gave us some Berber bread with three types of dip. One of the dips was Amlou. It’s a nut butter containing almonds, honey, and argan oil. The other dips were honey and argan oil, then just Argan Oil by itself. The Bread was perfect to have with the dips.
Then after we finished our tea break, we entered the Co-operative. The building was charming and more modern than most of the other stores I’ve seen. The store has all types of argan oil products, like creams and lotions.
The lady first explained to us how they make Argan oil. They gave us a demonstration of women turning this dial to extract the liquid. It’s pretty fascinating to see that these women are doing this by hand versus seeing machines doing it.
Afterward, you have a choice if you would like to purchase any of the products. Don’t worry. You don’t have to buy anything. They do not haggle you at all like they do in the Souks of Marrakesh.
We then drove some more back to Marrakesh about 35 minutes later. They dropped us off at our street near the Riad. It was about 6 PM once we got back. That concluded the tour.
A few takeaways from the Atlas Mountains Day Trip
This day was pretty eventful and adventurous. The tour had so many activities of things to see and experience in one day.
We only had 4 days in Morocco, so we got the best tour to get a taste of everything packed in 1 day. This day trip was great, especially for the price. It was well worth the price and the time we spent with our guide visiting the Agafay desert, Berber villages and trekking the mountains.
If you have more time to visit Morocco, you should stay in the Atlas Mountains for another day or two, especially if you are an avid hiker and would like to climb up Mt. Toubkal.
Other avid travelers and locals recommend visitors to get a guide to visit the Atlas Mountains.
Here are other options for Day trips and even Multi-Day tours here.
Click on any one of these links to get more info.
Please let me know in the comments if you plan to visit Morocco. I would love to hear about your experience in the High Atlas Mountains.
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