6 eco-adventures in Morocco

Many visit Morocco for its chaotic cities, but this fascinating country also has plenty of wild activities in store for the eco-friendly adventurer

Team Wanderlust
25 May 2016

1. Go camping in the desert

Morocco is one of the best places in the world in which to experience the profound, deafening silence of the desert. With the Sahara just a few hours’ drive from Marrakech, endless, undulating sand dunes are easily accessible here.

Camp on Zagora desert, Morocco (Shutterstock)

Desert camps are dotted across these regions, offering one of the most immersive ways to experience life in this unique climate. Watch the magnificent sunsets and sunrises across the dunes, and marvel at the blankets of stars that densely decorated the night sky. Often run by Berber people – tribes that are descendants from early North African inhabitants – these camps provide a way to not only connect with the landscape but also the communities that have lived here for thousands of years.

2. Hike the Atlas Mountains

The Atlas Mountains span more than 1,200 miles across northwest Africa, through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, creating an endless playground for those who like to strap on a pair of hiking boots. Treks range from easy jaunts to challenging ascents, making this range suitable for hikers of all abilities.

Mountain landscape, Morocco (Shutterstock)

The mountain village of Imlil is an ideal place to base yourself if you’re looking for hiking in Morocco. This small settlement sits in the valleys at the feet of soaring peaks, including Mount Toubkal – the highest in the Atlas Mountains. This mighty summit is one of the most popular hikes in the region, but around here you can also walk through valleys and Berber villages. A number of the hiking companies you’ll find in Imlil work with the local communities to create jobs and support accommodation, providing an authentic and sustainable experience.

3. Spot wildlife across the country

Morocco’s wide range of habitats – from arid desert to lush greenery and rocky mountain plateau – plays host to a wide range of wildlife. A good place to start is Souss Massa National Park, where rivers and wetlands are inhabited by a large variety of bird species. Flamingos pick their way across the marshes here, and this is one of the very few places in the world where you can find the Bald Ibis, a critically endangered species.

Northern Bald Ibis (Shutterstock)

Head to the Middle Atlas Mountains near the Berber village of Azrou (not far from Fez) to spot groups of Barbary apes. These endangered creatures were misleadingly called ‘apes’ due to their lack of tail, but they’re actually part of the macaque family. They can be found roaming around in groups of up to 100 and are almost certainly spotted in Cèdre Gouraud, a cedar forest a few miles from the village.

4. Escape to a surf and yoga retreat

The unspoilt nature of Morocco’s coastline just begs for a relaxing and restoring trip. Surf and yoga camps are dotted along the shores near Agadir, creating ideal spaces for taking a digital detox and switching off for a while. Take healing yoga classes at sunrise and sunset, and spend the rest of your days riding the waves during surf lessons.

Legzira beach, Morocco (Shutterstock)

Many of these camps also have in-house Berber chefs that cook healthy, delicious local cuisine. Fuel yourself on hearty Moroccan meals (great vegetarian options are often readily available) and soak up the easy-going pace of life.

5. Explore Tazekka National Park

Located in the Middle Atlas Mountains, Tazekka National Park was originally created in 1950 to protect an area of cedar trees. Since then, the park has been extended to cover more parts of the region, making it one of the best examples of conservation in Morocco.

Middla Atlas Mountains, Morocco (Shutterstock)

Here you are immersed in nature. Hike the trails that weave through the park to stumble on hidden waterfalls, and stop by the Friouato Caves to discover a beautiful and mysterious underground world. Facilities and amenities in the park are limited and slightly under-developed – there are only a handful of parking areas and accommodation options – but that rustic side adds to Tazekka’s untouched charm.

6. Wander on horseback

Morocco is an incredible location for horseback riding as you can saddle up on beaches, across the mountain, and in deserts. Tours and treks run throughout the country so you can pick and choose between your preferred locations, or simply go on an epic adventure that covers the lot.

Moroccan men riding their horse on the road to Marrakech (Shutterstock)

Many companies use Barb or Arabian horses, which are well adapted to trekking, and if you’ve a need for speed they can take your tearing over the landscape. Gallop across the beaches at Essaouira or Agadir, wander over sand dunes in the south, and amble through fields studded with olive trees – all from that unique horseback viewpoint.

This article is supported by the Office National Marocain de Tourisme, but it is impartial and independent – just like all Wanderlust editorial

Main Image: Lush oasis landscape in the Moroccan desert (Shutterstock)

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