Singletrack MTB in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains
Over years of trekking, skiing and dirt road MTB tours in Morocco we have seen many wonderful mule paths that we really wanted to ride on our trail bikes. A couple of years back we settled the matter and created a centre-based singletrack program near Marrakech. Adrenaline, great beauty and a voyage of cultural discovery are waiting for you in the Atlas Mountains.
Morocco’s indigenous people, the Berbers, still use many of the ancient paths to transport themselves and their pack animals, the mules, around the Atlas Mountains, and these trails form the foundation of our new tour. Mules are a very much a live part of the infrastructure in the mountains and on this trip you’ll see locals who make a conscious choice not to use modern dirt roads but stick to the old routes instead. This helps keep narrow, vertiginous and tricky biking trails accessible, and allows for an unbeatable flow and fun-to-pain ratio.
The passion for riding singletracks has grown strong with us over the years and we have long been keen to develop a more refined concept in Morocco. We have now created a weekly programme for those looking for a more technically challenging tour that doesn’t lose track of it’s adventurous routes. We have also chosen to move away from the standard accommodation regime of basic, rustic mountain huts (or gites), and base ourselves at a very comfortable hotel (with pool and wifi) right in the middle of several of the best trail heads. This means not only do we get the best biking and wilderness experience , but we also have a fun “apres-bike” and a bit of luxury along the way.
The paths we ride are at parts smooth and flowing, through undulating terrain, gardens and villages. However, occasionally there are pretty steep and rocky sections that in places are loose and technically difficult. We also immerse ourselves in a mountain environment, which means that some places are exposed and pose a fall hazard. You should therefore be used to riding intermediate / advanced red and black trails and not suffer too severe fear of heights to enjoy this journey.
We choose to travel in October – November and in March – April, when Northern European weather tends to be wet, muddy, dark and cold. Here we can expect perfect dry trails and a pleasant climate where the sun and heat is not an enemy.
Morocco is an exciting country itself, the cultural framing makes the journey guaranteed to be a colourful and interesting break from the mundane everyday life at home. The trip sends in Marrakech- a city that overwhelms us with its bustling street life, architecture and bustling commerce without being too pushy or stressful. In fact, in many ways Marrakech resembles more a big Saharan village than it does a thriving metropolis. Here we stay comfortably in a relaxed, family-owned riad (luxury traditional guesthouse), about ten minutes walk from the world famous Djemma el Fna Square.
In the mountains we have our base nearby the small lakeside town of Wirgane surrounded by mountains and world class biking trails. We stay at a charming hotel with a lovely view and garden area. We also enjoy access to a very nice pool and some kind of wi-fi. We have good contact with their kitchen and they are flexible to our wishes. If we would like to have a cold beer after the day’s exercises, it is not impossible.
Some days we go up with the minibus in the morning or we will be picked up in the afternoon and other days we start directly from the accommodation in the morning or arrive there in the afternoon. Each day we will have a support jeep that meets up at certain strategic points- partly for safety and partly to function as a mobile workshop. The chef also goes with the jeep so you can count on substantial and impressive lunches- food is certainly a highlight of this tour!
The trip will be led by Nicke Sundstrom that know all the trails without GPS and are well familiar with the local team and area. This is world-class trail biking of the highest standard, run with a professional, experienced and dedicated team.
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|Starts||Ends||Starting point||Price||Guide||Places available|
|Trip length||8 days|
|Group size||Min 6, max 8 persons|
Included in the trip
- All local transfers by 4×4 support vehicle
- Mule transfer on Day 6.
- English speaking MTB guide- travels from Europe
- One nights luxury “riad” B & B, Marrakech
- Five nights half board hotel, Wirgane
- All lunches Day 2- 7
- Service truck with mobile workshop
- Chef and driver
The trip is sold excluding airfare, we meet up with a driver at Marrakech airport or city center.
Questions and booking
Do you have questions regarding this trip? Do you want to send us a notification of interest or make a booking?
Contact us on +46 31-707 00 80 or or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Day 1. MARRAKECH – WIRGANE
At the airport we are met by a driver and then we have 1.5 hour transfer to our base for the week, Ksar Shama. Along the way we pass some of the areas that we will cycle through during the week and can look up towards the most alpine areas of the Atlas Mountains. Once at the lodge, we settle in, eat dinner and have a briefing for the coming days’ adventure. Then it’s time to assemble the bikes and get ready for tomorrow’s cycling.
Day 2. ”STONE ROSES + LOVE LINES,+ SWEET & SALT TRAIL”
Today we have a big and challenging day ahead of us. We eat breakfast around 07.45, load the bikes on the racks and then drive for about 1 hour up towards some villages above Asni. We then have a long descent to look forward to. Initially we traverse a slope and there are some exposed parts but not so technically difficult and the path is reasonably wide. We then have some tricky downhill with tight turns in loose, rocky ground before we come out onto wider ridges on smooth and fast paths. We arrive at a tarmac road, cross it, descend through a village and then pedal up about 100 meters in height. After that we have a long section with flowy path, like a natural bike park, very nice all the way down to the lowlands just below the village of Asni. Once down on flat ground, our support car and team is waiting with lunch. We eat lunch in the shade of some Aleppo trees and take a breather.
After lunch we pedal a few kilometers uphill on asphalt, cycle through the market in Asni, turn onto a dirt road that begins to climb upwards. At the end it gets really steep! The road turns into a path and it is so steep that we need to push the bikes. In total, it is about 250 meters in height up to a pass.
After the pass, it starts to gently slope downhill with elements of really technical cycling, then it flattens out and we have a few kilometers of XC-type cycling. Then it’s technical cycling in limestone chaos before we race it downhill again through a village in full enduro style until we reach a road. We push this back on small paths here and there and arrive at an area with salt mines. We scout out the mines and cycle a short distance on the road until we reach the last path which pretty much leads all the way to the hotel. A huge big cycling day is over.
Afterbike/bike and body care, dinner and then good night!
Day 3. ”HOLLYWOOD CANYON + EVIL THORN TRAIL”
Today we have a technically easier day ahead of us and we will cycle north towards the plains surrounding Marrakech. However, it is the day we have the most uphill cycling. We cycle directly from the hotel after breakfast, following a small asphalt road to the north. We turn off onto a dirt road to the west and arrive at a large dam plant. Next to this we take off on a path and start to climb upwards. If you are really strong, you can cycle large parts, otherwise it is fine to lead the cycle. We come up to a crest with a spectacular view, then it mostly goes downhill along the river gorge on a reasonably wide path, sometimes a little “airy”. We come down to a village, make our way through it and then go west, sometimes up, sometimes down, to the village of Imi Talat, where lunch and a support car await.
After lunch we pedal upwards and then a fast flowy path awaits on a ridge up to the village of Aghbalou. Lots of cactus and other sharp things around, so it’s good to keep an eye on the path. Above the village there is an asphalt road where the cars wait. Then go back to the hotel, approx. 35 min drive or alternatively pedal back on asphalt and gravel (approx. 1.5 h).
Day 4. ”OPEN FREE RIDE + GREEN RUSH FOREVER TRAIL”
Now we have one of the week’s most spectacular jeep rides to look forward to. We leave the hotel around 08.45 and drive along an asphalt road that leads past the dam at Wirgane. A few kilometers after the dam, we turn onto a small serpentine road (gravel) and wind our way to the village of Assif Azigazari. We unload the bikes in the village and start pedaling upwards on a small dirt road (which has more of a trail character). We cycle upwards as far as we can… Then we can more or less free ride back to the village. Just below the village we eat lunch.
After lunch, we cycle back a bit on the road we came on in the morning, we turn off at a crest, then a long descent awaits (8 km) on a fast path along the mountain sides. The end of the trail is steeper and more rocky with some nice switchbacks overlooking the blue water of the dam.
We finally slip into a restaurant/bar for a coffee or something more refreshing and charge up for the last stage of the day. Directly from the restaurant, we turn off onto a path and wind our way through small villages and plantations until we reach a gravel road that we follow for a bit before it’s time to tackle the last leg of the day. This goes through a red landscape that makes the imagination shine. Lovely flowy paths up and down that once again take us all the way to the hotel. Another big day with a lot of downhill riding is over.
Day 5. Rest and maintance day
We give a little extra care to the bikes, which have had a hard treat the first days. If anyone wants to cycle, there are nice paths in the immediate area around the hotel. Including the ones we finished the last few days with. But experience says this rest/soft day will do wonders for coming days. They are big ones.
Day 6. MULE day. TIZGUI – TOUGDALTPASSET – TIZI OUSSEM
A really big adventure awaits today. We get up in the morning, have an early breakfast and then load the jeeps and head for the small village of Tizgui. The serpentine road up the mountain is an adventure in itself and not for those who suffer from a fear of heights. Once in the village, we strap the bikes onto the mules’ carrying system and have approx. 2 hours of hiking ahead of us. The scenery is absolutely outstanding and the hike uphill is not too demanding. We eat a picnic lunch in the pass (if wind and weather permit), put on the rims, thank the mules with the driver and load up for a really long ride.
Now we have approx. 1000 meters of drop in front of us. At first the path is quite smooth and winds in large arcs through open terrain. Here you can easily find speed. Then the valley narrows, it steepens and we cross a ravine on a number of occasions. Tight switchbacks and exposed cycling are interspersed with long, fast traverses. In the end, we descend the greenery above the village of Tizi Oussem and trick our way through cultivated fields and beautiful walnut trees. We get to push a bit up into the village before we roll down the asphalt road where the jeeps meet up. A really big day on the bike is over.
Day 7. “King Kong chrushes trail + Panoramic hangover” – Marrakech
We pack up, have breakfast and head up to Asni. We will now travel a short distance along the road we traveled on the first day. We stop in a small village up on a high plateau and charge for King Kong crushes. A great enduro ride that contains everything. We start with a slightly relaxed cycling along fields, very soon we enter a limestone rock garden with many drops and ramps. At the beginning it is quite flat, but then it steepens with tight switchbacks in combination with large rocks that are both fixed and mobile.
Then it flattens out, becomes straighter, faster but not without challenges. After several kilometers of full concentration, we come down to a flatter area and round off with really smooth cruising before rolling into Asni’s everyday life. We might have a coffee in the square before loading the bikes and going back to the same starting point. Then we take the same start as King Kong, but soon the path branches off and we have another long descent that ends in the path, Love lines, we drove in the morning on day 2. We have lunch and then roll back to Marrakech.
We wash and service and pack the bikes in our local bike room. Here we can also leave the bike bags overnight. After a much needed after bike, shower follows some free shopping, then we go out again/celebrate a great week!
Day 8: Marrakech – Onward travel
After breakfast you might enjoy further sightseeing on your own depending on our flight times. The transfer from our Riad to the airport is easy, so it doesn’t matter at what time your flight leaves- either way the transfers are inclduded. With sore bodies and happy minds we say goodbye to the Moroccan trails for this time, but know we’ll be back- for sure!
Good to know
To safely enjoy this trip you should be an experienced trail rider and prepared for properly steep cycling on narrow paths with some minor drops, large stones, stream beds and some exposed. Many harder sections can easily be walked, so we don’t wish to discourage careful, adventurous intermediate level riders. “Better safe than sorry” is a valid slogan in this context.
There are no long distances but the days are still quite demanding so you should have a decent physical condition. However, strong riders who spend too long in the pub will also feel at home, and in this context technical skills are more important than being able to ride far and fast.
We recommend using a full suspension trail, all mountain or enduro bike with a decent amount of travel.
If you bring your bike from home so you will need at some flights have it packed in a so-called hard case. Remember to bring spare parts specific to your bike such as rear mech hanger, brake pads etc. We divide spare parts and tools between us that we can share.
During the tour we will stay in a double room at all hotels. You can get single rooms at the hotel for an extra fee (not in the hostel). In Marrakech, we stay in a nice riad (small hotels), where breakfast is included but evening meals in Marrakech is not.
You can expect daytime temperatures warmest 20-35 ° C, but normally around 25° C. We will pass some high passes and so it is important to be prepared for cycling in both warm and chilly weather. Before the trip, you will receive more written information about packing and facts about Morocco.