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Atlas Mountains

Overview

The Atlas Mountains are some of the largest mountain ranges in Africa and the only one in North Africa. They rise to over 4000m and extend for 700km in length and 300-400m in width. In places, they are steep and difficult to access except on horseback. These trails traverse several routes and allow…

Highlights

  • Enjoy sportive canters across the desert
  • Adventurous riding on fit & forward Barb-Arab horses
  • Ride with experienced local guides
  • Sleep out under the stars during the trail
  • Smell the beautiful wild roses in the famous valley

Essential Facts

  • 3 itineraries available
  • Max 10 riders per group
  • Average of 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 90kg / 198 lbs / 14st 2lbs

Description

The Atlas Mountains are some of the largest mountain ranges in Africa and the only one in North Africa. They rise to over 4000m and extend for 700km in length and 300-400m in width. In places, they are steep and difficult to access except on horseback. These trails traverse several routes and allow you to discover the beauty and character of this country.

These rides operate through the spring/summer months when the cooler mountain altitudes make riding pleasant, and riding in the desert further south is impossible (see our Sahara rides for winter options).

From mid-April to mid-May, the Valley of the Roses is filled with beautiful wild roses whose scent fills the air and is popular the world over for perfumes.

In late May and September, journey to the Siroua Massif wedged between the High Atlas and Anti Atlas, where beautiful green lawns alternate with dark volcanic rocks - here Saffron crops bring wealth to the region.

In late June, July and August, the trails take you to higher altitudes, into the High Atlas and the foot of Mt Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa at 4167m. These are the most alpine landscapes in Morocco with highlands and forgotten valleys to discover.

Horses & Riding

Tack

English-style leather saddles are used for all the horses, along with practical saddle bags for your small items (camera etc). bridles are simple leather ones with either a snaffle or pelham bit. Each horse is also ridden in a martingale which can be attached to the front of your saddle to prevent slipping on climbs.

You will be asked to tack and untack your own horse at the beginning and end of each day. Help is on hand if required, but you should be fairly comfortable doing this yourself.

Horses

The horses are predominantly Barbs or Arab-barb crosses. They are mainly stallions although some have been gelded. The horses are forward-going, fit and eager to please, but their behaviour, especially when handled on the ground, may differ from what you are used to at home or on other trails. Your guides will be able to show you the correct way to handle the horses and provide help if you require it.

Riding

There are 3 itineraries:

  • High Atlas (Summer) Trail is a trail ride
  • The Saffron Trail is a trail ride
  • Valley of the Roses is a trail ride

Ages

None within reason - young riders are able to join this trail accompanied by a parent or guardian, provided they are fit, experienced riders who are confident handling a forward going horse (there are no ponies).

Health

You need to be physically fit and riding fit. If you are not riding regularly then you must get back in the saddle before joining the trails. Some of these rides are also at altitude, so you should be prepared for that.

Weight

90kg / 198 lbs / 14st 2lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

A cook travels with you and is responsible for preparing all the meals whilst camping.

Dinners will be typical and traditional Moroccan fare featuring plenty of vegetables, chicken, beef, and lamb in the form of tagine, soups, stews and couscous. Lunch is usually lighter, with fresh salad, pasta, rice or couscous and a selection of protein such as cheese or tinned fish. Breakfast will vary but usually consists of a selection of bread, preserves, cakes, fresh fruit, eggs, tea, coffee and juice.

Traditional Moroccan tea will be served at breakfast, lunch and at the end of the riding day together with a selection of sweet and salted snacks. Drinking water is provided in large 5-litre bottles, which can be dispensed into your own drinking bottle to avoid single-use plastic bottles. You can also take water-purifying tablets to clean water taken from streams you pass.

Additional drinks are available at hotels and are payable locally.

Accommodation

These are predominantly camping trails, although the first and last nights are always in 3* hotels.

On the trail you share two man tents which have foam mattresses included. There will usually be a dining tent too, as well as smaller tents for washing and toilets. You will need to bring your own sleeping bag and may prefer to bring your own lightweight inflatable camping mat as well.

You are expected to help set up camp, assisting with tasks such as erecting and then packing away your tent, setting up the dining tent, assisting with preparing the meals and caring for the horses.

Itineraries

High Atlas (Summer) Trail Tented accommodation.

The Saffron Trail Tented accommodation.

Valley of the Roses Tented accommodation.

Other Activities

These riding trails are not suitable for purely non-riding guests. The riding days are long so there are also few opportunities to fit in other activities. There may be some free time in the evenings to walk, listen to traditional music after dinner or swim in the pool if you are on the guesthouse ride (and there is one available).

For those wishing to extend their stay in Morocco, it is well worth taking some time to explore Marrakech or Ouarzazate. Ouarzazate especially is famed as the gateway to the desert, its Berber and nomadic culture as well as its film and television studios which have featured as a location for titles such as Gladiator, Ben Hur, The Mummy films, Game of Thrones, Cleopatra, Jewel of the Nile and many others.

Travel

Some of the rides include transfers from Marrakech airport and others use Ouarzazate or Fez - please check the individual itineraries for the nearest arrival airport.

Transfers from the closest airport are included, but if you arrive at a different airport then you will need to pay for a private transfer to the start of the ride. Transfers are quoted each way for the vehicle and then split between however many people share it.

For the High Atlas and Saffron trails, transfers from Marrakech are included. We recommend you land in Marrakech by 16:00 on arrival day and your flight should leave after 12:00 pm on departure day.

For the Valley of the Roses, Ouarzazate is he closest airport and again flights should land by 16:00 on arrival day and leave after 12:00 pm on departure day. Those taking the transfer from Marrakech will need to land in by 15:30 on arrival day and departing flights should leave at 16:00 or later - this is to allow for the longer transfer time.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

You'll be transferred from Marrakech to the foothills of the Atlas mountains, a journey of c. 30 minutes. Here you'll stay at the eco-lodge Terres d'Amanar where the horses are based. There are great views of the mountains, and at night you can view the twinkling lights of Marrakech in the distance. Dinner as a group.

Day 2 - Tahanaout - Azib Tatult

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

After breakfast you head down to the stables and meet the team and horses. After a short ride in the arena to check that everyone is happy, you set off in a westerly direction towards the foothills of the Kik plateau. There are some beautiful tracks which invite you to increase the pace. Follow the red crests to your camp which is near the Beduoin village of Tatult

Day 3 - Azib Tatult - Tassa Ouirgane Saline

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

After your first camp breakfast you set off along a narrow path to approach the N'Kik plateau, which is a limestone outcrop dominated by the chain of High Atlas peaks, some of which reach more than 4000m in height. You'll have extraordinary views of Mt Toubkal to the south and the valleys which descend from it, including Amezmiz and Takerkoust lake. Villages cling to the mountainsides and follow the lines of the valleys, blending into the landscape. Picnic lunch after the pass of Tizi N'ousaud and then follow a trail through a forest of thuya and green oaks. Camp near the village of Tassa Ouirgane Saline.

Day 4 - Tassa Ouirgane Saline - Tizi Zougarine

Riding: 5 hours

Today you ride through the Tassa Ouirgane, a basin of rich water within the Atlas. There are beautiful olive groves and crops which benefit from this ideal climate with sun, water and freshness created by the altitude. This region is home to some of the most beautiful Berber villages. Picnic at the edge of the river at Azerfssane and then ride through the Azzadne valley along mountain paths to reach the Berber village of Tiziane where you overnight in a cottage.

Day 5 - Tizi Zougarine - Ounskra

Riding: 6 hours

Start the day by ascending the Tizi N'Oudide pass at 2100m and then drop down to the village of Matate in the valley of Ghighaya. Picnic at the edge of the river at Aguerssiwale, and then after lunch cross the saddle of the Aguerssiwale Pass at 1500m. Ride through the valley of D'Imnane and enjoy the high mountain atmosphere. Overnight in an inn in the village of Ounskra.

Day 6 - Ounskra - Tiselit

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today you ride over the highest pass of the trail - the Tizi n'Addi pass at 2910m. You will have to help your horse over some sections but will be rewarded with splendid panoramic views of all the High Atlas and Toubkal (4167m) - the roof of Morocco! As if by miracle there is a wide and beautiful path which invites you to open your horses paces to reach the agdals (pastures) of Oukamaiden which are grazed during the summer months only. Picnic on these pastures after climbing to Tizi N'Ouka pass (2800m) to access the west side. In the afternoon you descend on a beautiful track overlooking the plain of Haouz to reach your camp near Tiselit.

Day 7 - Tiselit - Tahanaout

Riding: 4 hours

Continue descending to the lower valleys through a forest of oaks and junipers, and into Asni, the capital of the region. Saturday is the day of the souk and you will meet many mules and donkeys! Stop for a picnic in the shade of the Aleppo pines at the foot of Jebel Choucht. After lunch there are some fabulous tracks to canter and gallop along before finally returning to the stables at Terres d'Amanar.

Day 8 - Departure

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport.

* Please note that this itinerary may run in reverse.

Accommodation

First and last night in a comfortable eco-lodge. One night in a mountain cottage and the rest of the nights are spent camping in tents. Camps have a central dining tent and a washing/toilet tent too. You will need a sleeping bag.

Experience Experienced

You need to be an experienced and capable rider who has full control at all paces and with good balance. This ride will be at high altitudes with some steep climbs, you should not be prone to dizziness or vertigo, or have a fear of heights.

Minimum group size 3
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

June 16, 2024 - June 23, 2024  (* Low Season)

June 23, 2024 - June 30, 2024  (* Low Season)

June 30, 2024 - July 7, 2024  (* Low Season)

July 7, 2024 - July 14, 2024

July 14, 2024 - July 21, 2024

July 21, 2024 - July 28, 2024

July 28, 2024 - Aug. 4, 2024

Aug. 4, 2024 - Aug. 11, 2024

Aug. 11, 2024 - Aug. 18, 2024

Aug. 18, 2024 - Aug. 25, 2024

Aug. 25, 2024 - Sept. 1, 2024

Sept. 1, 2024 - Sept. 8, 2024

Sept. 8, 2024 - Sept. 15, 2024

Sept. 15, 2024 - Sept. 22, 2024

Pricing

2024
Low Season; Sharing
£995 $1240 €1160
2024
Standard Season; Sharing
£1045 $1305 €1225
Included 7 nights accommodation in shared rooms/tents, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, drinking water, transfers from Marrakech airport, 6 days riding.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, drinks, sleeping bag, tips and other personal expenses.

Extras

2024 - Single Supplement £103 $128 €120
Paid to Far and Ride
Cost applicable for all nights. Subject to availability and refunded if a sharer is found.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

You'll be transferred from the airport to your hotel situated in the Gueliz district of Marrakech. The rest of the day is free for you to explore the area and dinner is to your own account this evening.

Day 2 - Marrakech - Tamllakoute

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

At 7am you'll be collected from your hotel and transferred by road to Ait Marssid in the massif of Siroua, a journey of c. 4 hours. On arrival at Oued Anzal you'll meet your guide and have lunch before being introduced to your horse. Your first afternoon ride takes you around the edges of Anzal Oueds until reaching the village of Tamllakoute where you set up your first camp.

Day 3 - Tamllakoute - Amezri

Riding: 5 hours

Follow a narrow track which offers opportunities for faster riding until reaching the small village of Tinzaline. Continue across rocky terrain into the mountains to the remote village of Tizgzawine. After a picnic lunch you continue towards the reliefs of Merzoug before reaching the plateau of Amezri with fabulous views of the mountains all around.

Day 4 - Amezri - Talat n'Mdist

Riding: 5 hours

Todays ride takes you to the peaks of Siroua, crossing the village of Ait Tigga and overlooking the beautiful valley of Ait Semgane and its saffron crop terraces. Climb a small pass to enjoy the view of many Berber villages through the valley and stop for lunch at the top of Tisswatine. In the afternoon you continue to the high pass of Tizi n'Anzommer at 2732m where the panorama extends over the massif. Descend on a shepherds path to reach your camp at the bottom of Mdist valley.

Day 5 - Talat n'Mdist - Azazougzane

Riding: 5 hours

Your trail continues along a track which crosses a mountainous desert landscape but is rich in medicinal plants. The Siroua is well-travelled by Berbers who collect these plants to sell in the souks all over Morocco! Follow a beautiful path to a river with a lovely view of the Ighighi Gorge and after treating your horses to some water you head to Jebel Tazoulte for lunch. After lunch head along a track up into the sheep pastures of Azib Azazougzane where you find your campsite.

Day 6 - Azazougzane - Anmid

Riding: 5 hours

Ride through the sheepfolds on these green meadows amidst an exceptional rocky setting. Picnic amongst these pastures and then ride up to Tizi n'Ait Qalla for panoramic views of the large village of Anmid. Your camp is at the bottom of the village.

Day 7 - Anmid - Amassine - Marrakech

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

Your final camp breakfast and then head out in the direction of Agrilaoune. Head up a long track overlooking Berber villages hanging on the steep mountainsides. You end your trail with a last gallop before reaching the minibus for the transfer back to Marrakech (c. 4 hrs). Spend the night in the same hotel as at the start - dinner is to your own account tonight.

Day 8 - Departure

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport.

* Please note that on some weeks this itinerary may run in reverse.

Accommodation

Hotels for the first and last night in Marrakech but camping on all trail nights. Camps have a central dining tent and a washing/toilet tent too. You will need a sleeping bag.

Experience Experienced

You should be competent in all paces across open terrain, rising to the trot and cantering in a forward seat. You must be able to control your horse with a light hand whilst riding in a group/open order. At the start of the week, canters are taken single file, but the pace is varied and includes lots of trots and canters.

Minimum group size 3
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

May 19, 2024 - May 26, 2024

May 26, 2024 - June 2, 2024

Sept. 29, 2024 - Oct. 6, 2024

Pricing

2024
Rider; Sharing
£1015 $1265 €1185
Included 7 nights accommodation, all meals (except dinners in Marrakech), drinking water with meals on the trail, transfers from Marrakech airport and 6 days riding.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, meals in Marrakech, drinks, sleeping bag, tips and other personal expenses.

Extras

2024 - Single Supplement £103 $128 €120
Paid to Far and Ride
Cost applicable for all nights. Subject to availability and refunded if a sharer is found.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

You'll be transferred from the airport to your hotel in Ouarzazate. Dinner is included in your hotel in the evening but the day is free for you to explore the town.

Day 2 - Ouarzazate - Skoura - Aghbalou

Riding: 4 hours

An early transfer from your hotel to Skoura, a journey of c. 45mins. Upon arrival, you'll meet your guides and horses before setting out to start your trail. Cross the palm plantations of Skoura and head across the desert plateaus of Ait Said Ummansour to reach your camp at the foot of the Atlas mountains.

Day 3 - Aghbalou - Aguerd

Riding: 5 hours

Ride across the plateaus of Tamassent to reach Toundout, the last big village before the Atlas. There's superb views of the valleys full of almond trees. In the afternoon there are plenty of canters across a plateau to the beautiful village of Tiflit, then ride up through gorges to reach your camp near the village of Aguerd.

Day 4 - Aguerd - Taoujgalt

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Climb along the wadi Nait Tounert, passing many villages with their terraced crops. In the early afternoon you cross another plateau and a pass to reach the valley of Azaghar-N-Aiguer. Follow a narrow path to your camp which is at 1900m.

Day 5 - Taoujgalt - Agouti

Riding: 5 hours

Ride through the valley of Assif El Qati which is renowned for its magnificent Ksours (castles) with traditional Berber architecture. The views are stunning, with green gardens against the red walls of the cliffs and the troglodyte houses of Khot. Camp near Agouti.

Day 6 - Agouti - Boutaghrar

Riding: 6 - 7 hours

Today you follow the valley of El Qati which still contains many well preserved traditional Berber villages. Wild roses are abundant at this time of year and the soft pink flowers contrast against the green of the cultured fields and the ochre of the rocks. This region is world renowned and the essences from the roses are sent all over the world to be included in the composition of many perfumes. (The Rose Festival is always held during the first week of May.) Camp near the village of Boutaghrar.

Day 7 - Boutaghrar - Timstiquite - Ouarzazate

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

Final morning in camp before riding out past the cool waters of M'goun river and descending the Valley of Roses by following small mule tracks to the village of Timstiquite. Here you have lunch and leave your horses before transferring back to Ouarzazate.  Dinner and overnight at your hotel.

Day 8 - Departure

Riding: No riding.

You are transferred to the airport for your flight home.

* Please note that on some weeks this itinerary may run in reverse.

Accommodation

First and last nights in a 3* hotel in Ouarzazate with double or triple rooms. For the rest of the nights you will be camping in two-man tents, with a dining tent and a washing/toilet tent. You'll need to bring a sleeping bag.

Experience Experienced

You should be competent in all paces across open terrain, rising to the trot and cantering in a forward seat. You must be able to control your horse with a light hand whilst riding in a group/open order. At the start of the week, canters are taken single file, but the pace is varied and includes lots of trots and canters.

Minimum group size 3
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

April 14, 2024 - April 21, 2024  (* High Season)

April 21, 2024 - April 28, 2024  (* High Season)

April 28, 2024 - May 5, 2024  (* High Season)

May 5, 2024 - May 12, 2024  (* High Season)

May 12, 2024 - May 19, 2024

Pricing

2024
High Season; Sharing
£940 $1170 €1100
2024
Standard Season; Sharing
£910 $1130 €1060
Included 7 nights accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, drinking water, transfers from Ouarzazate airport, 6 days riding.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, drinks, sleeping bag, tips and other personal expenses.

Extras

2024 - Marrakech Airport Transfer €140
Paid locally
Price is per vehicle, each way, and will be split between all passengers requiring transfers from Marrakech. Transfer time is roughly 4 hours each way to the start/end point of the ride. You need to land in Marrakech by 15:30 on arrival day and departing flights should leave at 16:00 or later to allow time for travel.
2024 - Single Supplement £103 $128 €120
Paid to Far and Ride
Cost applicable for all nights. Subject to availability and refunded if a sharer found.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.