Cycling The Anti Atlas, Morocco

The start of our journey through southern Morocco…

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Bad timing placed us in the peak of the rainy season at the heart of east Africa, and led us to abandon our journey short of Rwanda and Uganda. We’ll happily save it for another time. We needed to dry out; and dry out we have. According to locals, most of the route we have taken, so far, through the Anti Atlas range in southern Morocco, hasn’t felt rain yet this year.

The Anti Atlas is a region of stark contrasts. High and aromatic wildflower meadows at its peaks are separated from the harsh expanse of the Sahara desert in the south via caravan routes that funnel through red cliff gorges with oases at their floor. It is a spectacular place. We decided to start pedaling from Agadir, a rather touristy coastal town, pushing across a dusty expanse to the foot of the mountains in search of piste (gravel and dirt) roads that would carry us south towards the Sahara.

Big climbs, old maps and a chance meeting with a mountain bike guide led us through some amazing and challenging corners of these mountains…

Also, first, here are a few photos from our short stint in Casablanca:

Casablanca Hassan II Mosque

Here are a few photos of the Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca…

Casablanca Hassan II Mosque

Casablanca Hassan II Mosque

Casablanca Hassan II Mosque

Casablanca Hassan II Mosque

Casablanca Hassan II Mosque

Casablanca Hassan II Mosque

Morocco Portrait
Morocco Portrait

Touristy water guy.

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco

Entering the Anti Atlas… a long climb.

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco

Glad to see desert plants again.

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco

Ancient terraced fields.

Anti Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Around every corner is a kasbah or agadir ruin.

Kasbah, Anti Atlas, Morocco

A large kasbah outside of Ait Baha.

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco

Bee Hives, Anti Atlas, Morocco

Berber bee hives.

Orange Peels, Anti Atlas, Morocco

Discarded orange peels used to attract bees and make orange honey.

Anti Atlas Mountains, Morocco

We kept seeing these rectangles painted on buildings; finally found out that they use the marked areas for voting.
Kasbah, Anti Atlas, Morocco
Anti Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Bright colored doors stand out among neutral stone and mud brick buildings.

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco

Wild camping in a gorge before our huge push through the big range.

Anti Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco

Gin whipping up pasta.

Vargo Titanium Stove - bike touring

Finally burned wood in the Vargo the following morning. Works well; boiled water in under 10 minutes.

Anti Atlas Mountains, Morocco

A hill-top fortress.

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco

Starting the ascent up the valley and into the heart of the Anti Atlas.

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco

Once at altitude the mountains are taken over by an incredibly aromatic array of wildflowers.

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco

A very dramatic landscape. Unfortunately, this road, according to Tracks for Africa and an old map we have, was supposed to be piste, but has been paved in the last couple of years.

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco

Passing women harvesting tea and wild herbs.

Anti Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Bicycle Touring Anti Atlas Morocco

Bicycle Touring Anti Atlas Morocco

Switchbacks up, switchbacks down.

Surly ECR - Bike Touring Morocco

I love the style and look of arabic; unfortunately, I can’t read it so who knows what the signs say that fall in the background of the obligatory bike photo.

Anti Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Mountain Bike Guide, Morocco

Perfect timing… we ran into Gabriel, a mountain biking guide from Germany, who pointed us towards some gravel and dirt routes…

Mountain Bike Guide, Morocco

He shared his highlighted maps that show his research from the last few weeks. I am slightly envious of his job, I must say.

Bicycle Touring Anti Atlas Morocco

And with that, we took off down a dirt track that would save us a day, and promise a steep descent into the Ameln Valley.

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco

Bicycle Touring Anti Atlas Morocco

Bike Touring Anti Atlas - Morocco



Unfortunately, the road came to an abrupt stop (literally) and we were temporarily kidnapped by a local family who insisted we stay for tea and couscous.

The Moroccan long pour.


Couscous with a family who warned us of the hiking trail that would drop into the valley, “It can’t be done with biciclet.”, they argued.


The beginning didn’t look so bad, quite nice actually.

Then it got tricky.


After an hour of getting beaten up by thorny bushes, and tackling rocky ledges, we hit pay dirt.


Many of the old roads here have since been paved. Gabriel mentioned this has been tricky for a mountain bike guiding company, they find a good route, then come back the following year and it’s been tarred. Great for Moroccans, bad for us.


Descending into the Ameln Valley.

Hard to believe we were on the other side of those mountains 2 days before.


The palmerie of Ameln.





A lot of GPS trial and error with signage in Arabic.



The Painted Rocks of Tafroute…


… done by a belgian artist Jean Verame in 1984.



At first we were planning to cycle right by, but upon further inspection, the area is neat to explore.


A few of the rocks have been slightly modified by locals.
  • The contrast of green and brown is phenomenal. We are about to ride from Alaska to Argentina and I hope there will be contrast like you are finding.

    How was the water situation where you were riding? Are you having to carry extra through Morocco, or are you finding sources pretty easily?

  • Amazing post – really, really envious of your trip!

  • Thanks! Alaska to argentina should give you plenty of contrast, and amazing perspective! Leaving in July? you should be embarking wih a pack of other folks doing the tip to tip if your timing is right; the comeraderie of the pan-american cyclists is great!

    Water has been a little tricky in a couple of places, but there are wells in the lower valleys around villages. I had to carry about 6 liters over an 80km hot stretch of nothing the other day.

    Cheers, and bon voyage!

  • Thanks Matthew!

  • What a lucky decision to push through that trail! Amazing stuff.

  • Thanks, it was extremely timely when we ran into the mountain bike guide… we were 3 meters away from the turnout and clueless of its existence…

  • Matt Hobley

    Brilliant stuff. I wished we’d have stayed in the Atlas rather than heading south. While our route was pretty straightforward out of Marrakech, deviating off the main road in the mountains brought the best riding.

  • Thanks Matt! Yeah we worked our way into the Sahara, which was interesting to say the least (more on that soon), but I wish we’d stayed in the mountains as well…

  • mohamed

    very god travel in atlas

  • Rachad Essouri

    The sign up, says “Respect please other’s property and thank you for that, keep your troops from eating the grass and no bees colonies too.”
    Anyway good trip :)

  • Piper Smith

    Wow, it looks like biking in morocco really amazing. Also the images are looking cool. I have never been to Morocco. So next year I have a plan for a morocco trip with my friend’s group. Apart from that recently we are talked with a morocco travel agency as “Trekinmorocco” for providing a touring guide to us. Thanks for share such nice post.

  • Mattijs Van Bruwaene

    Great stuff! Do you have tracks from this trip? I don’t seem to find matching tracks in your Morocco trip…

  • Thanks. From this portion, no. Unfortunately there was a lot of pavement in this as many of the tracks that were supposed to be unpaved, weren’t — they seem to be paving a lot of roads in Morocco. however, some of the track is here:

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