Video: A Trip to Morocco's High Atlas Mountains

Feb 4, 2019
by CharvatBros  


Morocco is actually a kinda special destination. Of course, many people have heard about it, but only a small percentage of them are able to imagine at least a bit of what it really looks like.




When winter hits our homes in central Europe many riders start to think how to survive it. If you want to ride outside and not be freezing along the way you have to travel. That’s for sure. Personally, I like to do things differently than others and I always look for new ways. More than a decade ago, as one of the first Czechs, I have started to travel to the area of San Remo and Finale Ligure to stay in shape during winter months. Now, when the temperature goes below zero, my feed on my Facebook changes to a report site just out of this area. Why not? It's affordable and there are just so many world-class trails, and the weather is usually pretty good for riding all year round.

I've been there about 30 times already, but I just like that feeling of exploring something new. That’s why I have been traveling a lot in the winter months during recent years. Especially I was caught by South East Asia. This winter was no different. I traveled to Indonesia again. I’m far from seeing everything, and to tell the truth, I just really enjoy my time there. Unfortunately, due to the bad luck of a fracture of my girlfriend's leg, we had to return home after a pretty short time and I started to think about how I would make it through the freezing months. At that point, I got an offer to explore another country I've had for a long time in my bucket list - Morocco. Cheap flights before Christmas assured me, so I called my friend Stanley Sehnal right away… and in a few days we were sitting on the plane.


Where did we land, bro?
Every time I go somewhere, I try to find out some information to be able to react to what can happen. If you are for example going to be in dialogue with the local people, it is good to know at least where you are, what do they eat, etc. This time, however, it was different. I got an invitation from local guys and they told me they were from Marrakech. After arriving, I was shocked by the fact that we drove straight to the highest mountains, slept almost 2,000 m above sea level, and the highest mountain of North Africa, Toubkal – 4,162m, was right behind our house.

Morning views are the best in Morocco s High Atlas.

Morocco is a special destination. Of course, many people have heard about it, but only a small percentage of them are able to imagine at least a bit of what it really looks like. It is also because it has a lot of different faces. From seaside towns across the Sahara desert to really hardcore alpine terrain.

We spent half of our stay in a small village of Aroumd, just above the more famous village of Imlil. It is used as a base for those, who want to summit the already mentioned Toubkal. The second half we slept each time in a different valley. We climbed through passed a large part of the mountain range of High Atlas.

We did not come to sunbathe!
Many people may think that it is pretty hot all the time in Morocco. But this is not the case, at least not in December when we visited the mountains. If you would like to visit Morocco with your bike, it is recommended from April to November. We were supposedly lucky in December. The temperature was about 5 °C at night (no heating in the houses). During the day it climbed to around 25 °C, but when we were in the shade, it was pretty clear that summer was already gone.

Trails ... Yes, people still walk a lot.


Our daily bread was almost exclusively the mountain range of High Atlas. I was really surprised how many faces Morocco can have in a single day. We just climbed the pass and suddenly we found ourselves in another climatic zone. We rode from ice to desert terrain. The paths are used by the locals for hundreds of ages. Still, most people walk here to stay alive or walk with their donkeys for supplies tens of kilometers every day. Loose and rocky terrain often creates obstacles that are not easy to ride. Occasionally, the trails have a smooth surface and a "flow" and we were once again amazed at their diversity. Out of 14 days, we rode 12, and it was the maximum that we managed physically. It was not easy, especially from the start. The altitude and the strong sun were just exhausting.


Donkeys are just everywhere. I've never saw so many in my whole life.

If you like adventure, I do not just mean the one on a bike, this is exactly for you. In Morocco, you will experience something "different" even when you go to the store to buy some water. The combination of untouched nature, beautiful views, great trails, and Moroccan culture is simply a mix that you should experience.


Overview
This country has a lot to offer. If you are just a bit "bored" by too much “groomed” Europe (or whatever place you live) and you want to see, how people lived many decades or hundreds of years ago - it is surely the choice for you. Travelling opens our minds and Morocco is definitely one of those countries that is unbelievably close to how much it can open it. Great trails, people and weather - that's why I’ll be back one day, for sure.

Cheers,

Matej Charvat
Stats: Age: 33 • Height: 6' • Weight: 173lb • Riding for: Banshee Bikes
Twenty years of racing mountain bikes including World cups, mainly downhill means a lot of addiction to riding. I'm doing what I love, exploring the world with my bike, meeting new friends and hopefully motivating somebody not to live their lives behind the desk. Except other projects, I started to produce some creative content in recent years and I let my second me do the cinematography and photography thing, which was always my hobby. Check my Instagram or YouTube Channel for more cool stuff from my trips.



26 Comments

  • + 18
 In response to your question about travelling and feeling scared - It makes a big difference if you are a man or a woman, you hear so often of bad things happening to women. I (male) wouldn't consider so many places to be 'scary' to visit however my girlfriend also watched this and commented how much worse it is for women and how there are so many places she wouldn't be able to go on her own or at least would feel very nervous about going there as a woman.
  • + 3
 Also - Crazy that you happened to be right where the incident with the two girls were.
  • + 6
 @CharvatBros ...Matej - cool article. We appreciate you taking the time to translate this article, as English is not your first language.
Never considered Morocco for an MTB trip - always gone to Alps/Finale, but will definitely consider it after reading this.
Keep the articles coming, dude...
  • + 3
 Morocco is indeed an amazing place, been there 3 times but without the bike. Almost made it to Toubkal back 3 years ago when was living in Malaga but needed to go home. Morocco is indeed a place to visit, with high alpine terrain and endless trails. Awesome adventure!
  • + 3
 Having been to Morocco and into the Atlas Mountains - without my bike - I am incredibly jealous of this trip! It's been a couple years since I was there but Morocco is just such a lovely place! The people are all incredibly friendly and there is so much to see.

I was lucky to get to go out there for "work" filming a conference. I'd definitely like to go back with my bike!
  • + 2
 Good Job Mates, good to see Czech guys making content for pinkbike. Morroco is here once in a while and definitely on my bucket list to check it in the future with bike... like every country where people hiking mountains a lot, so is there numerous trails everywhere Smile
  • + 1
 I've been all the way down to lonely Oasis south of Agadir possibly near Zag? Tsar el souk? No idea on the spelling. it was many many years ago when I was a kid camping with my parents in a 1971 Dodge Tradesman van with California license plates (long story)! What a great time we had. We felt like we were in the real Sahara and I still have a glass bottle of sand I brought back. Must've been at least a month. Morocco rules! The topaz and amethyst crystals the local mountain men sell in the Atlas mountains are spectacular, too.
  • + 1
 Yes looks like an adventure for sure!, not sure that want too ride such rough trails, more in to "trials flow trails" & still trying to smooth out bumps and plenty of rough trails close by that could ride
But great article all the same!
  • + 1
 Let's just hope that the donkey taking the bikes was not the one on the picture in the left. The state of the poor animal the pressure sores and wounds are visible from the distance. As much as I would love an adventure like this I could never support animal cruelty for the sake of having fun (or otherwise)... even if done in ignorance - although experience tells me that the animals owner know very well when the animals are suffering.
  • + 0
 I had a fantastic riding trip to Morocco in 2016. There were me and 3 other girls in our group of 10 and we had precisely zero hassle. No problem whatsoever. One of our Guides was British and the other was a local Berber as were our support team. We were superbly looked after and were blown away by the quality of the riding and the stunning scenery. Hated Marrrakech though and would never go back there again.. the mountains and the mountain people were just great. If anyone is considering a trip, check out Freeride Morocco, highly recommend the company.
  • + 1
 Rode the High Atlas for 10 days a few years ago just as a duo based in Imlil. Great place to ride, by all means hike to the top of Toubkal but leave your bike at the refuge, we found out the hard way.
  • + 2
 Awesome! My Dad was hiking in the Atlas mountains a few years ago and had a mtn biker pass him on the way back down and he's been raving to me since about how I need to go.
  • - 1
 The world is a scary place dude. Bad people are everywhere - just look at the news. Better to sit in front of Hannity and enjoy a Bud Lite. You'll be safe there. My wife will be leaving tomorrow to ride to the tip of South America. Solo, though she will undoubtedly group up with folks along the way. Lots of people have tried to discourage her, not of those people have ever done a similar trip. Not a single person who has actually done this trip has told her to be afraid. The folks who have done the trip have universally raved about the people and told her she will have the time of her life. Travel is the greatest way in the world to alleviate fear of other cultures.
  • - 2
 Oops, this was for @Beez177. Must learn to use interface properly...
  • + 5
 Your little dig as to say I'm an uncultured Republican is laughable. Budlite? Hannity?

So your just because you travel to third world countries, you're some how culturally superior?

Good luck to your wife, hope she has a great trip, but get off your high horse.
  • + 1
 The subtitles are going too fast for me, I can`t follow the pictures in the same time!!!!!
  • + 2
 That’s a Big No and Huge Pass
  • + 2
 but...how was the hash?
  • + 1
 Best in the world!! But I am all set with bread wrapped in toilet paper and dunking in sardine juice.
  • + 1
 Excellent video. Really enjoyed it. Thank you!
  • + 1
 I skied in Morocco last winter, I would love to go back with bikes!
  • - 1
 You should be alright as long as you carry your Kalashnikov and blend in like everybody else.
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