Join tour in Marrakech. Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting Complimentary airport transfers are provided for clients arriving on this day.
Day 2: Marrakech – Demnate - Imi n Ifri - Tilsekht (1565m).
After breakfast in Marrakech, pick up and drive to Demnate at the foot of the Atlas Mountains and the starting point of our bike challenge. Surrounded by traditional Berber villages and mountain landscapes, Demnate is the oldest city in the south and was once a vital link between Marrakech and the southern half of Morocco. Just past this impressive city, we will start our cycling trip following the main road for a few kilometres, discovering on our way the large natural arch of Imi Nifri. Lunch stop soon after this. After, we turning off onto a dirt road and here we start officially our atlas adventure. The Central High Atlas Mountains rise up before we begin a steady 12km climb on rough roads to the first overnight camp at Tilsekthe, an ascent of some 760m. These spectacular mountains were once described by the Roman scholar Pliny as the ‘most fabulous in all Africa’. The stronghold of the staunchly traditional Berber people for generations, they extend for some 2,500 kms across northern Africa, separating the Atlantic and the Mediterranean from the vast barren deserts of the Sahara to the south. We will be expected to help set up the camp on our arrival whilst a sumptuous feast is prepared for us.
2 hrs drive / 4 hrs / 21 km cycling / Ascent 760m / Descent 270m / Meals: B, L, D / overnight camp
Day 3: Tilsekht (1565m) - Sidi Boulkhalf - Tarbat n Tirsal - Tizi n Tirghist (2626m).
Today and after breaking camp we begin the climb up to our first mountain pass, following the same road that we finished yesterday. A steady ascent that takes us along a well established dirt track to the summit. Stunning views await us at the top. Cresting the rise we then enjoy an exhilarating downhill that takes us through a series of tiny villages, isolated against the backdrop of the spectacular mountain panoramas. The trail then becomes a little more challenging, as we follow a series of undulations across rocky terrain and through a small gorge. Once past the gorge we begin the ascent on the rocky path towards the Tizi n’Tirghist (2626m), the high pass that takes us on towards the beautiful verdant landscapes of the Ait Bou Goumez Valley. Descending towards the second night camp, we now enter a world of lush farmland and Berber settlements, lying hidden amongst the craggy mountains of the High Atlas. Once again after a rest we will be expected to help set up the tents at tonight’s camp, there may also be the opportunity to visit some 5000 year old stone carvings near to the campsite.
7 hrs / 30 km cycling / Ascent 1350m / Descent 600m / Meals: B, L, D / overnight camp
Day 4: Tizi n Tirghist (2626m) - Abachkou - Ait Boulli - Ait Bouguemez (1850m)
Today’s itinerary takes us through one of Morocco’s most stunningly beautiful areas, the picturesque Ait Bouguemez Valley. Poetically nicknamed the ‘Happy Valley’ by early French visitors, the valley is blanketed in fields of barley and wild flowers and dotted with Berber villages and fruit orchards. The day begins with the glorious sun rise over the mountains and a long 14 km downhill from the pass, after which we begin a steep climb towards the road leading into the valley, today’s climb is easier due to the road surface. We will stop in one of the many meadows or orchards for our lunch break today. After lunch we will be on dirt tracks and roads there may even be a chance for a cold drink at Tabante, a small village on the trail. The ascent today takes us up some 830m, passing a number of mud-brick houses and ancient walnut trees as we ride in the foothills of the dramatic Mgoun Massif. Nestling amongst some of the highest mountains in High Atlas, the ‘Happy Valley’ was so named because of the friendliness of its local people, and this evening we will hopefully have a chance to experience some of this home-grown hospitality. We will be staying in a local Auberge, or village house, within the valley – simple but clean accommodation that we will be sharing with some of the other members in the group.
7 hrs / 45 km cycling / Ascent 830m / Descent 1300m / Meals: B, L, D / overnight local Gite (guesthouse)
Day 5: Ait Bouguemez (1850m) - Tizi n Tirghist - Tizi n Ilissi (2530m) - Zaouit Ahanssal (1650m)
Today provides us with the longest and toughest ride of the challenge but one of the week’s most scenic days. Starting out along the valley floor we have another opportunity to enjoy the visual spectacle of this beautiful valley, before tackling the 13km ascent up to the Tizi n’Tirghist pass once again. The views from up here are magnificent, with the dark craggy form of the Mgoun Massif contrasting starkly with the startling greens of the valley below. From here we then freewheel down some 300m in altitude, taking in the mountain vistas that surround us, before beginning another ascent up to the Tizi n’Ilissi (2,530m). This is the last ascent of the day and from here we negotiate the long 1,000m downhill slope that eventually leads into the Zaouit Ahanssal valley. Overnight in a comfortable local Gite.
8 hrs / 68 km cycling / Ascent 1260m / Descent 1500m / Meals: B, L, D / overnight local Gite (guesthouse)
Day 6: Zaouit Ahanssal (1650m) - La Cathedrale (1150m)
The final day of cycling begins with us following the course of the Ahanssal Valley, passing by the farms and houses of a number of Berber villages before we begin the climb out of the valley. The dirt road then takes us across two passes (the highest of which is around 2000m) and through forests of pine, before depositing us at our local Gite at the foot of the Cathedrale Mountain. The Berbers who occupy these mountains were living in this region long before the Arabs arrived here in the 7th century and their language, customs and culture are still markedly different from those of their Arab neighbors. As we pass through the landscape today we may come across examples of the fortified houses that are typical of the region. The end of our final day’s riding sees us relaxing in our comfortable Gite beside the waters of the Ahanssal River, the imposing cliffs of the Cathedrale rising up before us, presenting the perfect setting to end this off-road adventure.
7 hrs / 47 km cycling / Ascent 800m / Descent 1100m / Meals: B, L, D / overnight local Gite (guesthouse)
Day 7: La Cathedrale - Bin el Ouidane Lake - Ouzoud Waterfalls - Marrakech
Returning to Marrakech by road today, we travel by way of Lake Bin el Ouidane, Morocco’s largest reservoir and a vital source of water for both the agricultural and electrical industries in the eastern part of the country. Laying some 150 kms east of Marrakech, the lake is renowned for its huge carp, attracting fishermen from all over to its expansive shores. After a chance to view the lake, we then continue through Azilal, to reach the highest waterfalls in Morocco and here we stretch our legs to explore the beauty of the area with its spectacular landscapes. Finally arriving back in Marrakech late this afternoon. And enjoy a celebratory meal and overnight in a hotel in Marrakech.
5 hrs drive / 1 hrs walk / Meals: B, L / Hotel or Riad
Day 8 : The end of the Atlas adventure
Transfer to the Marrakech airport. Flight back home.