High Atlas Traverse

10 days super mountain biking in Morocco. Explore the High Atlas mountain and the amazing lunar-like landscapes of the desert mountains of the Jebel Sarhro.

  • Intro
  • Itinerary
  • Dates
  • Price and What's Included

The lush Atlas Mountains that run wouth west through Morocco is in stark contrast to the desert fringe in the south and east of the country. The ancient city of Marrakech, where we start this adventure, with its labyrinthine streets boasts some of the most intriguing souqs (markets) in Morocco.

Mountain biking in Morocco is a great option for getting around and this tour takes us through the spectacular Dades Gorge and down some outrageous descents in the High Atlas Mountains. We camp in the desert and the palmeraies (oasis) of the outlandish Jebel (mountain) Sarhro and explore the souqs of Marrakech.

High Atlas Traverse itinerary


View Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Marrakech
Arrive in Marrakech. Transfer to hotel, where once you have had a shower and time to relax a bit, the tour leader will brief you about the tour together with our local guide.

Day 2: In Marrakech
The first day is spent exploring the fascinating city of Marrakech. This ancient walled city has a souq surpassed by none in Morocco. Snake charmers, storytellers, wondrous food stalls and bustling streets make it a great way to start our adventure. In the evening we put the bikes together so we are ready to head out of town in the morning. We then we head to the Jmaa el Fnaa Square for our evening meal.

Day 3: Ride to Ait Benhaddou
We start early and head south into the High Atlas Mountains. The two-hour drive takes us out of the bustling city to the top of the spectacular Tizi-n-Tichka pass at 2100m. We begin our cycle on a small tarmac road descending the southern slopes of the High Atlas after the little village of Telouet. After a short lunch break we continue on tracks and dirt roads through the spectacular Asif Ounila valley towards the incredible Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou. The tracks are fast and fun with some great descents. We spend the night in a small gîte near a ruined kasbah used in the filming of the movie Gladiator. Cycling distance: 43km

Day 4: Ride towards the Jebel Sarhro
An early start gives us time to wander around the best-preserved kasbah in Morocco, Ait Benhaddou, so well preserved as it has been the scene for numerous big screen blockbusters, including Laurence of Arabia. We continue in the Land Rovers to Ouarzazate and on to Agdz; as we drive we move away from the high jagged mountains into more barren desert scenery and the Draa Valley. From here on in, the only reason we need to rejoin the Land Rovers is if you want to; this is your holiday after all! We start our ride after lunch outside Nekob, 140km north of the Sahara Desert. We cross ‘hamada,’ stony fringes of sun baked earth, it is hot, and can be windy. After 12km we drop off a spectacular cliff into hidden oasis. We continue towards the mountains and camp under the volcanic plugs at ‘Bab n Ali,’ the gateway to the Jebel Sarhro. Cycling distance: 25km

Day 5: Ride to the Dades Gorge
We rise early and break camp. Our day begins with an optional 16km climb to the top of the Tizi n Tazzazert pass at 2200m, with views of rugged black basalt outcrops and cavernous gorges. From the top we descend on swooping rocky tracks through wild and open scenery, past mines and small settlements, gradually dropping through villages, and finally rejoining the flat desert floor. There’s an optional 20km road ride after lunch across the harsh plain that lies between the Jebel Sarhro and the High Atlas to Boumalne du Dades. After lunch we are off again along a narrow twisting road through the spectacular Dades Gorge, admiring palm trees, kasbahs and weird rock formations. The night is spent in a small hotel at the foot of the gorge, surrounded by the spectacular red cliffs above. Cycling distance: 74km (plus optional 16km climb)

Day 6: Ride to Tilmi
Another fantastic and varied ride beginning with a stiff 1.8km ride to the top of the cliff we have been sleeping below, and then sweeping along smooth sealed roads through villages and high mountain scenery. Mint tea at a local cafe and a picnic lunch by a spring is followed by more undulating tracks through friendly villages and tiny farms. We camp near Tilmi nestled high in the Atlas Mountains in a remote yet spectacular setting. Cycling distance: 60km

Day 7: Ride to Agoudal
A huge 17km climb starts our seventh day. The view back over yesterday’s ride gradually unfolds; tiny irrigated fields, way below and barren brown peaks above. The gradient eases towards the end, and suddenly we crest the very top of our ride through the High Atlas Mountains, Tizi n Ouano at 2900m. The scenery becomes wilder and the track rougher as we cross the middle of the Atlas. We are higher than the permanent settlements, but sometimes have a chance meeting with nomads or shepherds. The descent is long and fun. There are only two notable ascents in the afternoon; we make time for a break at possibly the most barren tea stop in the world, in the mud walled village of Agoudal. Our camp tonight gives us a fantastic view of the night sky, but we’re high enough for a frosty morning! Cycling distance: 46km

Day 8: Ride down from the mountains
A leisurely and fairly flat ride takes us to Imilchil for elevenses, another remote market town of the Atlas. We picnic by the lake at Tislit, and then our last short climb takes us to the northern edge of the mountains where we descend along 10km of scary hairpins with steep drops. At the bottom the track has been mostly washed away so we cycle in and out of the riverbed, crossing and recrossing for about 15km. A tiny village with a welcome teashop is the sign that we have re-joined dry land, and we now find ourselves in trees, which we haven’t seen all week. Our camp near a forestry house has an icy stream, the last cold wash until next year’s trip… Our bodies are a little bruised and our bikes need a little maintenance but we have crossed the High Atlas Mountains and seen some awesome scenery along the way. Cycling distance: 78km

Day 9: Back to Marrakech
A short cycle through the trees takes us to a small metal bridge, where we reload the land rovers and return to Marrakech for well-earned cold beers and hot showers. We pack up the bikes then head out for dinner…and that bar. Cycling distance: 15+km

Day 10: Farewell
A final morning to do the last shopping and practice telling tall tales of the great ride we have just done and then we are off to the airport. Your tourleader will say goodbye there and see you next time!

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As it is hot in Marrakech during the summer months from mid-June to mid August, we avoid the scorching summer days by travelling in May and late August.We can expect daytime temperatures in Marrakech to be around 30 degrees centigrade. Once we are on the trail and we start to gain height, we can expect the temperatures to be rather lower, with daytime temperatures of approximately 20 to 25 degrees centigrade. At night, the temperatures at our highest camps will fall as low as 5 degrees centigrade. The weather is usually fine at the time of our scheduled departures.

However, weather in mountainous areas is notoriously difficult to predict, and rain or even short-lived storms can occur at any time of the year. During the winter we can’t run this trip as the high mountain roads close with snow.

Best time to go



Base price per person €930

Price is based on a minimum of 5 pax. Please contact us for smaller groups. Note price is in Euros.


We have a support jeep following us most of the time and even when we ride trails where the jeep can’t follow us it will meet up with us at short intervals. So it is possible to get a lift in the jeep if your legs are having a day off. It is good to carry a Camel bag for water and also to be able to carry camera, sunscreen and some windproof clothing as the weather can change quickly in the mountains. The nights are spend in a variety of accommodation from Hotels in Marrakech, old Kasbahs and camp a few nights. We provide everything except your bike and personal equipment and clothing.

What is included

  • Arrival and departure transfer Marrakech airport
  • 3 nights on half board at 3 star hotel in Marrakech
  • 1 night in Gîte (hikers accommodation) in Ait benhaddou
  • 1 night in Kasbah (fort) de la vallée in Dadès
  • 4 nights under Igloo tents
  • Full board once we leave Marrakech
  • Land Rover at our disposal whole MTB trip (7 days)
  • Western leader and guide throughout trip
  • All camping equipment except sleeping bags

What is not included

  • International flight to and from Marrakech
  • Morocco Visa fees
  • Travel insurance (We insist you have one)
  • Airport taxes
  • Sleeping bag for camping component
  • Sightseeing of Marrakech city on day 2 (optional)
  • Soft/alcoholic drinks
  • Lunches in Marrakech
  • Bar bills and laundry
  • Optional trips and sightseeing tours
  • Additional nights at the beginning or end of trip
  • Tips
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Mountain bike hire

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