Six of the best adventure activities in Morocco, from rock climbing to mountain biking

A playground for thrill-seeking travellers, Morocco has it all: desert, coast, mountains and even snow. Whether it’s a challenging hike or a splash on the Atlantic waves, here are six adventures to test your mettle.

Climbers who are keen to feel the rocky embrace of Morocco's Todra Gorge have dozens of official routes to choose from.

Photograph by Getty Images
By Emma Gregg
Published 12 Mar 2022, 06:00 GMT

1. Rock climbing in the Todra Gorge

The Todra Gorge is a narrow limestone canyon, carved from the Atlas Mountains by prehistoric floodwaters, its walls as high as 1,312ft in places. This is one of Morocco’s natural wonders, with a steady stream of tourists driving into it from Tinghir to wonder at its sheer immensity. Climbers who are keen to feel its rocky embrace have dozens of official, fully bolted routes to choose from, including challenging sport climbs and more technical multi-pitch routes, suitable for experienced partners. Outfitters such as Aventures Verticales Maroc can provide equipment, instruction and guides.

2. Winter sports in Oukaïmeden

Home to the ski lift with the highest terminus in Africa  — a lofty 10,738ft above sea level — the winter sports resort of Oukaïmeden has plenty of niche appeal. To add to the intrigue, it’s less than 50 miles from Marrakech, making day trips from the desert to the snow entirely feasible. The journey into the High Atlas is all part of the adventure: the road climbs thousands of feet in under two hours. While the lower ski slopes probably won’t impress anyone who’s progressed beyond novice-level, the more challenging upper runs are considerably more attractive. For the best skiing conditions, arrive in January or February. 

3. Surfing in Taghazout

Taghazout, Morocco’s low-profile surfing capital, has swish accommodation but rustic roots. Lying some 15 miles north of Agadir’s jaunty beach parasols and promenade, it’s still a fishing village at heart, albeit with a string of new five-star resort hotels. Key to its appeal is a clutch of surf breaks with melodramatic names: Killer Point, near a spot where orcas are sometimes seen; Boilers, a powerful right-hander named after a shipwreck; and Dracula’s, where long peelers crash onto rocks as sharp as a vampire’s teeth. Local companies Surf Maroc and Surf Berbere offer accommodation, gear, training and yoga.

4. Mountain biking from the High Atlas to the Sahara

With reliable weather and a vast network of mountain and desert paths, southern Morocco is an adventure playground for cyclists. Whether you’re an all-terrain e-biker or an old-school mountain biker, there are itineraries to suit everyone, including thrilling routes along twisting mule tracks and through boulder-strewn landscapes that are too remote to reach on foot. For a satisfying long-distance pedal with all the logistics sorted, join a fully supported group ride. Saddle Skedaddle, for example, offers a nine-day Atlas to Desert trip between Telouet’s magnificent kasbah and the fringes of the Sahara, cycling between 16 and 36 miles per day.

5. Kitesurfing and windsurfing in Essaouira

With a three-mile beach swept by steady alizés (trade winds), Essaouira will blow you away. The winds gust between April and November, peaking in July and August, taking the edge off the fierce summer heat. Several centres, including Ion Club and Explora, offer lessons for beginners in the mornings, when the sea is at its calmest. For old hands, there’s no rush — enjoy a long breakfast, then head out at noon, just as conditions are picking up. Whitewashed Essaouira is also a beguiling place to potter around and has a refreshingly relaxed medina.  

6. Hiking to the summit of Jebel Toubkal

At 13,671ft, North Africa’s highest peak is an achievable goal for anyone with above-average fitness and altitude tolerance. It’s a strenuous hike, rather than a technical climb; nonetheless, having a local guide or porter is strongly encouraged. The most popular starting point, Imlil (5,741ft), is 42 miles south of Marrakech. From here, it’s a five to seven-hour trek along stony paths to the Toubkal Refuge (10,521ft), where climbers rest overnight before a first-light final ascent at dawn, often with snow underfoot. On a clear morning, the views stretch all the way from the Atlantic to the Sahara.

Published in the April 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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