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2. Berber Villages

Living in the Toubkal National Park, the indigenous Berber people have been in this area for centuries. They predate the arrival of the Arabs and Islam. The title Berber is interchangeable with Amazigh, and there are many Amazigh tribes throughout the High Atlas range. In each village, live a range from five to 100 families sustaining on farming, raising animals and participating in tourism. It’s also common to encounter villages without electricity, leaving local families to wash clothes in nearby streams and drink water collected from wells. You’ll be invited to experience traditional customs and learn about life here in the Atlas Mountains.

Berber Villages
One of the incredible Berber villages, where you have the opportunity to stay during a multi-day Moroccan trek through the Atlas Mountains.

We stay in the Berber villages as guests to dine in the local guesthouses, known as gites. Gites often have terraces featuring incredible views of the valley as a perfect compliment to any meal. Most of the homes consist of simple earth and stone buildings, and the villages consist of narrow winding streets. During our trips, guests will visit with people around Beber village. We go inside their houses to have some drinks and they tell us about the culture, as well as teach our guests about how people live their traditions, customs and everyday life.

The Berber villages trip is an extended five-day tour hiking in the Atlas Mountains. You’ll visit multiple villages and see a range of the stunning valleys this area has to offer.

Day One: Start in Marrakech before passing juniper, pine and oak trees on your way to Tinzert

The day will take five to six hours and will start from Marrakech. You will journey from there to Imi Oughlad where you will meet your guide, cook and mule. When you begin the trek, you will pass huge forests of juniper, pine and oak as you head toward the village of Tinzert. First, we have a short but steep climb in a forest of old and gnarled juniper trees. The path follows the valley up and over a pass before dropping gently down the other side to Tinzert where the valley opens out again. We’ll be passing terraced wheat fields and diverse, mineral-rich slopes. We arrive in Tinzert to spend our first night of our Atlas Mountains tour in local gites. You’ll also get a beautiful view of the surrounding Ouirgane Valley.

Atlas Mountains
A mule stops for a break and a snack next to a rushing river and some lush vegetation. You find just about everything in terms of terrain when hiking in the Atlas Mountains.

Day Two: Azzaden Valley is an unexpected delight

After spending the night in the village, your guide will take you along the Azzaden Valley. Azzaden is quieter and just as spectacular a counterpart to the well-trafficked Imlil and Ourika Valley, due to its beautiful gorges and villages. We head here in order to arrive at the Tizian villages where you will stay in a local house. The whole day is a bit easier, allowing from some down time, and should take around five hours.

Day Three: Leave Tizian to traverse to the arid Dkent Valley

As you leave the Azzaden Valley, we’ll travel through walnut forests on our way to the Dkent Valley. You’ll stop at Tizi Taghrhourt and view the incredible spectacle of the Azzaden Valley from 6528 feet (1990m). The terrain is more arid than in the valley bottom. The exposed rocks and soil are varied shades of reds, yellows and greys. Dropping down the other side, we wind our way down into the Dkent Valley. You’ll then travel to the large Tizgui village, where you can spend the night in a local guesthouse. This day should take approximately seven hours to complete.

Day Four: Spend the day with Berber people before relaxing at a hamam

To join in on the daily life of the Berber people, your day will start very early in the morning. This is when the Berber’s start to work the land, milk the cows and make bread, among the various other activities that make Berber life what it is. Today’s Atlas mountain trek will start by Oussol before picking up the trail that leads to the top of the amazing Azzenden Valley. Tizi Oussem is then your destination, where you can visit the local steam bath, known as a hamam, and spend the night in a local guesthouse. The day is perhaps seven hours from start to finish.

Each night of this multi-day trek, you will be treated to traditional Moroccan dishes in the homes of welcoming locals.

Day Five: Trek past waterfalls and view the full Atlas Mountain range

The last day is around five to seven hours of walking and takes you and your party via the largest waterfalls in the Toubkal National Park. After visiting the falls, you’ll join the path that takes you up the Ait Mizan Valley across the Tizi Mzzik pass, sitting at 8,202 feet (2500m). This route gives you the opportunity to view the villages of Imlil and the full Atlas Mountain range. The final leg of the journey will then be to meet your driver and head back to Marrakech.

About the author
Altus Mountain Hiking
Mountain & Desert Guide and co-owner of Trekking in Morocco

Mohamad still lives in the same village he was born: Imlil, Morocco — AKA “Little Chamonix.” Now the co-owner of Trekking in Morocco with his brother Brahim, he’s a fully certified mountain guide with over 20 years experience in trekking and the High Atlas mountain range and desert. Together, they have been leading adventurers through Morocco’s most interesting places, while also supporting the small communities that rely on tourism.

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