- The High Atlas mountain range
- The extraordinary view from the top of the towering ‘Test Pass’
- Exploring the surreal blue rocks of Tafraoute
- The incredible 100km ride from Tafraoute towards the coast
- Enjoying a cold beer on one of Morocco’s finest terraces at Immouzer
- The sights, smells and sounds of the Marrakech souk
- Starting and finishing in this years ‘Capital of Culture’ Marrakech
The tour took us through a fantastic range of mesmerisingly beautiful climbs, descents and open space. The distance and difficulty were lung-expanding and very rewarding.
You will arrive at Marrakech Airport and once you have collected your baggage/bikes you will be met by one of our Skedaddle guides, who will transport you to our 3* hotel accommodation in the centre of Marrakech. Flights arrive throughout the day, so once we‘re all checked in we get together for a short briefing on the trip ahead before heading out for an authentic Moroccan meal in a local restaurant. (If we have time we’ll assemble our bikes before the evening meal, but if not we’ll have time tomorrow morning prior to our first bike ride).
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
- Ascent: 1,050 Metres Approx.
Today we have a leisurely start, giving us some time to fine tune our bikes before setting off across the Haouz plain and into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. To avoid the monotony of the flat plain we load up our bikes and take a minibus to transfer the 25km to Tahanoute, a local administrative centre set in olive groves and fruit orchards.
From here we have a day of climbing ahead of us. We start the day at 900m above sea level and finish at 1,850m, riding along a road that climbs gradually from the plains into the heart of the Toubkal National Park. The first part of the climb takes us along a winding mountain road perched above a steep-sided gorge, leading us to the village of Asni, a traditional Berber settlement on the old Marrakech to Agadir road. Around Asni we’ll choose an appropriate spot for a picnic lunch before continuing along a quiet country road to Imlil.
The road to Imlil climbs gradually for 17km, following the beautiful Mizane valley, a typically scenic High Atlas river valley with a thin strip of lush cultivation framed by stark towering limestone mountains. Imlil is the most important trail-head village in the Atlas where trekkers set off to conquer North Africa’s highest peak, Mt Toubkal. We leave our bikes in the village and take a short walk up to our guesthouse accommodation where we stay for our first night in the heart of the Atlas Mountains.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
- Ascent: 650 Metres Approx.
The first part of our ride retraces our route of yesterday afternoon, with a smooth fast descent down to Asni where we rejoin the old Marrakech to Agadir road. There then follows a twisty 10km descent down towards the village of Ouirgane, one of the prettiest in the High Atlas. En route, walnut trees give way to olive groves as we lose all of the altitude we gained yesterday. Today the road surfaces are good and although there is generally very little traffic on the road, riders should be on their guard for unexpected oncoming vehicles.
Around the village of Ouirgane we’ll stop for lunch before continuing up the Tizi-n-Test road towards Ijoukak, our overnight stop. Our afternoon ride, following the course of the Nfis River takes us a further 30km uphill along a quiet road. En route we pass through some small Berber settlements characterised by adobe (mud brick) dwellings built out of the very land on which they stand. Here subsistence farming maintains villagers, with any excesses taken to the nearby souk (market) in Ijoukak to generate some extra income.
On arrival in Ijoukak we walk down a dirt track to get to our overnight accommodation, a ‘gîte‘, or basic village house, converted into simple tourist accommodation. Tonight’s accommodation is the tour’s most basic with riders sharing dormitory style rooms with shared toilet facilities. Before dark we may have time for a stroll through the valley, arguably one of the prettiest valleys in the whole High Atlas range.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
- Ascent: 1,175 Metres Approx.
Today we make an early start from Ijoukak as we continue our route southwards on a physically demanding ride. After Ijoukak the road begins to climb more steeply as it winds its way up to the infamous Test Pass (Tizi-n-Test), one of Africa’s highest paved roads. En route we stop for a look around the Tinmal Mosque, one of Morocco’s oldest. The mosque dates back to the 12th century and was built by the same Berber dynasty who built the magnificent Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech.
Moving on from the mosque we continue our climb through juniper forests up to over 2,000m above sea level. In total that’s about 40km of climbing since Ijoukak and the rewards on a clear day are panoramic views southward over the Souss Valley to Taroudant and across to the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Somewhere around the summit of the pass we’ll stop for lunch before embarking on a 37km descent down the south side of the High Atlas towards the town of Ouled Berhil.
From the bustling roadside town of Ouled Berhil views of the Atlas Mountains bathed in late afternoon sunshine are superb. Here we stay in a converted kasbah (a fortified Moroccan house) – a very quirky place with an old world feel about it. The hotel has a pool and pleasant garden to relax in after a tough day in the saddle.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
- Ascent: 1,750 Metres Approx.
After breakfast we transfer by minibus to the town of Taroudant. We’re now in the fertile Souss Valley, a vast expanse of flat land with fruit orchards watered by the Souss River which flows to the sea at Agadir. It’s a major fruit and dairy farming region and Taroudant is the regional centre, located some 40km from Ouled Berhil. After a quick look around the walled city, a 12th century town likened to a mini version of Marrakech, we continue by minibus to Ait Baha where we’ll start our ride into the Anti-Atlas Mountains.
Today’s ride is largely uphill, along a beautiful country road which winds its way up from the plains to Tafraoute, a mountain town within an extraordinary setting. After choosing a scenic spot for lunch we get the chance to visit a hilltop kasbah before continuing up to a pass perched high above our finishing point.
Halfway up the landscape begins to change from argan forests (a tree found only in Mexico and Morocco and used in the manufacture of massage and restorative hair oils), to wilder moorland. From the pass (at about 1,700m above sea level) there’s a wonderful 20km descent down the Ameln valley into Tafraoute, a village set in an almost surreal landscape of huge volcanic boulders.
After settling into our 3 star hotel we head out for dinner and some traditional entertainment in a local restaurant.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
- Ascent: Optional Rides Available
Today is yours to do as you please. The minibus will be available for those who would like to visit Les Roches Bleues, a collection of giant painted rocks all in the name of landscape art, or some of the wonderful villages in the Ameln Valley. Others may rather sit by the pool and admire the views over the town and the towering granite peaks that surround Tafraoute. There are also some short cycling circuits around the area, taking advantage of the many newly surfaced quiet country lanes.
The town of Tafraoute itself is a pleasant place to rest up, and every February the town comes alive with visitors during the almond blossom festival. The whole region is famed for its almonds and villagers from miles around congregate in Tafraoute at this time of year to celebrate the blossoming of their trees. The sight of thousands of trees in bloom set against the stark mountains that surround the town is one of the most beautiful in Morocco. We’ll have dinner at our 3 star hotel tonight.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,130 Metres Approx.
Today we make our way from the Anti-Atlas Mountains down to the Atlantic Coast. Although there are quite a few climbs involved, the day has a downhill bias, making up for the effort of getting up to Tafraoute in the first place!
The day starts with a gradual rise up to the junction with the road to the Ait Mansour gorge, before a series of ups and downs take us through more typical Anti Atlas scenery to the Col de Kerdous. En route we pass through traditional villages that couldn’t be more different to their High Atlas counterparts. In this region, the architecture (of taller, painted buildings with distinctive porches and doorways), bears no resemblance to the squat austere earth brick constructions of the High Atlas.
There’s also an air of economic prosperity in the Anti-Atlas with many of its inhabitants having set up successful commercial enterprises in the larger cities of Morocco. This has lead to a mass male exodus and many villages are almost exclusively inhabited by females. From the Kerdous Pass there is a long downhill towards the coast and and some fast and , later, some predominantly flat(ish!) riding through argan tree forests to the vehicle pick up point close to the town of Tiznit where the ride ends.
En route there will be the traditional Skedaddle picnic lunch served, and after the ride a transfer to Agadir where you will stay the night. Agadir is a resort town, so a different feel to the rest of the trip but it’s nice to be next to the Atlantic Ocean and to enjoy some fresh catch for dinner.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
- Ascent: 1,700 Metres Approx.
After breakfast we transfer out of town to just north of Agadir where we unload our bikes and start our ride up to Immouzer.
Known locally as ‘Paradise Valley’ this 50km stretch of asphalt is so called on account of its palm trees which line the early part of the route. It’s a very scenic route that is normally fairly traffic-free (apart from the odd minibus carrying tourists up to the falls) and there are several viewpoints en route to take pictures of a landscape quite different to previous days.
After stopping at an oasis for lunch we continue on a largely uphill route to the mountain village of Immouzer where we stay in a guest house for the night. We aim to arrive in good time for a drink and sunset viewing from what is one of the finest terraces in Morocco. We’ll gather for dinner tonight at the guest house.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 750 Metres Approx.
After breakfast we ride out of the hotel along a mountain road that takes us northwards towards the main Agadir to Marrakech road. The scenery is open and rolling with excellent views to the south before we start our descent down to the main road. It’s about 45km of easy riding (usually with the prevailing wind behind) and when we arrive at the foot of the descent we’ll pack up the support vehicle and head back to Marrakech.
En route we’ll stop for lunch and aim to get back to Marrakech by mid afternoon. The transfer takes about 2.5 hours. Arriving back in Marrakech is a real highlight. Having arrived in the evening at the start of the trip we had little time to look around the Marrakech medina (old town), a maze of medieval streets and passageways.
Tonight there’ll be time to explore the main square – the Djemaa el Fna – to witness one of the world’s most animated night time spectacles. At night the square is transformed into a giant open air restaurant with men in white coats serving anything from sheep head stew to snails in hot sauce. The rest of the square is dedicated to other forms of entertainment such as snake charmers, story tellers, acrobats and dancers. Later we will enjoy a farewell dinner in a restaurant before exploring what Marrakech has to offer in the way of nightlife. We will stay tonight in a 3 star hotel.
- Meals: Breakfast
Free time this morning followed by a transfer to the airport for your homeward flight. Most flights depart in the afternoon so there’s time to explore the city and pick up a few last minute souvenirs. Guides are available for those who wish to be guided but we recommend seeing the city at your own pace, taking time to wander through the beguiling labyrinth of tiny alleys and passageways in the ancient medina.
You might like to visit the ancient Badi and Bahia Palaces, the museum of Marrakech, or a short taxi ride will take you to the Majorelle Botanical Garden, owned by Yves Saint Laurent. There are also the famous souks (markets) of Marrakech – ideal for devotees of ethnic fashion and decoration, but worth a look for the sights, sounds and smells of this most exotic of markets. But the real Marrakech experience is more about soaking up its unique atmosphere.
NB: Again, as mentioned under the terrain section. Every season we discover some surprises; sometimes pleasant surprises such as new improved surfaces and sometimes ‘challenging’ surprises such as mountain roads which have been damaged by adverse weather conditions. Please keep this in mind and be understanding of the fact that Morocco is a developing country with limited economic resources, and road surfaces, although largely good, may occasionally leave a little to be desired when compared to much of continental Europe.
Although road surfaces are generally of reasonable quality, it is highly likely that you will experience some sub-standard surfaces that have been affected by bad weather or that are under repair. There is a comprehensive resurfacing program that is ongoing in Morocco and road improvement work is commonplace. This may have an impact on longer riding sections. If this is the case we will provide an option to ride in the support vehicle to avoid any long sections under repair but it is normally not possible to change the route as the road network in Morocco is still very limited compared with more developed countries. We recommend that you ride with at 700×25c tyres as a minimum.
Road Cycling Grade
45-60 miles / 70-95 kms per day
For riders with experience, good fitness & a decent level of skill
Some features that may be experienced more frequently in a higher grade tour
Most days include a couple of significant climbs
Some long days & some steep to very steep sections
Not for beginners
Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!
For more information about our grading system click here.
Is this suitable for you?
You’re definitely not a novice rider, you’re fit, you ride regularly at weekends, sometimes staying on the bike for much of the day, you love your bike! You also enjoy a challenge and if you haven’t already done so you’re keen to attempt a semi-serious to serious mountain pass or two. You’re as comfortable with the prospect of descending from the top of a col as you are with the idea of climbing it and you’re confident that you have the skills to do so safely. You’re not necessarily a “racer” but you can crank up the pace a little when it’s necessary and you don’t mind forgoing a coffee stop if the schedule demands it occasionally. You probably own and use clipless pedals. You have good control of your bike and can take a drink from a water bottle without having to unclip and put your feet on the ground. Whilst you find a full day in the saddle fulfilling you’re not obsessed and as much as you are looking forward to the riding on your holiday, you’re also looking forward to a little local culture and cuisine. Grade 3 would be a good option for you.
Our Tour Leader was superb. He was evidently watching everything and everyone to make sure the trip ran smoothly. The communication between him and his team was evident and ensured an excellent holiday during which we could be sure everything was in hand and well planned.
Dates & Prices
Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.
A) Accommodation during the trip (usually twin-shared rooms, except in gites/mountain lodges where you may be required to share with more people from your group)
B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
C) Full tour service, including Skedaddle guides
D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid
E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers
F) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Marrakech airport (RAK)
G) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Marrakech airport (RAK)
What's not Included
A) Bike hire (available if required)
B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)
C) Meals not stated in the itinerary
D) Single room (not generally offered on this particular holiday)
E) Travel insurance
F) Personal clothing and equipment
G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)
H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route
I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days
A day in the life on a cycling holiday
Eat, ride, relax, repeat! We take a trip inside the mind of a cyclist as they navigate their day on tour...
Everything you need to know about our legendary Skedaddle picnics...
Cultural awareness on a tour
Put aside your routines and expectations and get back more from your visit...
Allison, Wisconsin, USAOutstanding!!!
As always, an outstanding adventure, and this is my fourth holiday with Saddle Skedaddle. Abdul and his team were outstanding. Abdul was detail-oriented, thorough, prompt, positive, helpful, funny, personable, engaging, and informative about his country and all the different areas. The team impressed everyone consistently with their expertise with the bikes (Semo was terrific!), and our mobile chefs surprised us each day with yet another fantastic picnic lunch with salads, (some hot) meats, breads, pasta, rice, couscous, beans, fruits, fantastic tea and other delicacies. I particularly loved the cultural stops at the Argan Women’s Cooperative, the Painted Rocks, and seeing the rug weaving. Outstanding additions to this adventure!
The accommodation was excellent – in my opinion, each place we stayed had a terrific reason to be there: comfort after a rough day, an incredible view (second to last night there), location to important places, or whatever. I loved it!
Loved riding through Paradis Valley, but I loved all the beastly climbs every day as well. Loved the day with the HUGE rollers down after the HUGE climb, too! Honestly, each day was a gift in itself for either a climb, a view, or a type of climb/descent. Bikes provided were excellent quality with great gearing for those mountains. Pre-holiday info was also excellent – Jacky is always helpful and full of detailed information. She is also very prompt and thorough in her response time. She was helpful in arranging to pick up me and my 2 friends on the trip from our hotel in the old part of town in order to meet the others on the first day. EXCELLENT information about the temperatures and clothing to bring, as well as the types of accommodations we’d have. If you take time to read the info you’ll be ALL SET!
I always talk about Saddle Skedaddle and have already recommended Skedaddle to two of my friends who joined me on this adventure and I will continue to do so! In fact, I’ll be presenting a talk on ‘Bike Travel Adventures’ at my local bike shop in a few weeks and will be talking ALL about you!! Overall absolutely good value for the money – outstanding!!
Russell, New York, USASpecial riding...
I thought Skedaddle lunches were great – these lunches were a level beyond. Wow. And all that amazing food from one yellow van! The 3rd and 4th days going through the mountain passes were amazing. Riding was special. I think the trip was really well thought out. Hard to imagine improving any of the days. Adbel was ace. Professional, knowledgeable, always in control. His team had everything covered!
Stewart and Susan G., Santa Monica, USAThanks for the great tour...
I just wanted to drop you guys a quick note to thank you for the great tour in Morocco. Susan and I had a wonderful time and the staff there was fabulous. We will always remember Saddle Skedaddle for future bike tours.
All the Best and a Happy Holiday Season.
Srikant, USAAn absolute blast!
It turned out to be one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. The logistics were well handled, the bike routes were varied, picturesque and challenging at times. The camaraderie was great and ‘our man in Marrakech’ aka Charlie was always at hand to sort out any issues that we encountered enroute.
Jane, CanadaThe trip was an amazing experience...
I loved my time in Morocco and would recommend it to an avid cyclist!
The routes were beautiful, the scenery was breath-taking and the entire Moroccan experience was terrific. Very happy I was part of this trip. Moroccan staff – Ishmail, Mohammed, Lisson and Omar were great – attentive, polite and hard-working. I would rate them excellent.
Tasha, USAThere is no bad day on this trip...
Saaid is a leader extraordinaire, who had a positive attitude 24/7! And Omar’s lunches were incredible!
I would definitely recommend this trip to a friend!
Matt, Wellington, NZBest holiday ever!!
Can’t fault it…top guides, lovely food and riding was incredible!!
April, Manchester, UKThe cycling was absolutely wonderful
The tour took us through a fantastic range of mesmerisingly beautiful climbs, descents and open space. The distance and difficulty were lung-expanding and very rewarding. Saaid was wonderful – he made sure everyone was having a whale of a time, and was well looked after both in the saddle and out of it. He went the extra mile in encouraging me with the cycling and with helping me arrange some post-cycling trips for my last few days in Morocco – he’s the perfect charm! I found myself at the back of the bunch most days and the mechanic, Simou (Simon?), rode with me the entire way, he consistently helped me to get up mountains I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise! Fantastic guy – he made the whole thing extremely enjoyable. Omar, Mohammed and Ibrahim were fabulous throughout and made tough riding extremely enjoyable and rewarding – with food, wisdom and humour!
Paul, Kent, UKThank you!
We were always well provided with snacks and lunch was always very generous (and top quality)! Day 4 was my favourite – an interesting mosque visit followed by a long but steady climb, then a superb long descent. Hotel was the best of the trip, lovely gardens, a lounge by the pool, and dinner in an amazing room. I even tolerated the very noisy chickens! Tour leader was excellent so thank you – I learned a lot about Moroccan history and culture, and it was all done in a relaxed manner.
Hamish, Stirlingshire, UKIt was one of the best holidays we've had.
I thought the information about the holiday was excellent and we knew what to expect in terms of accommodation, meals etc. Our guide was great and tendered to our every request, and he was very knowledgeable about the area, local customs etc. The transport provided and the support vehicle were both excellent – particularly the support vehicle from which were produced our picnic lunches which were great.We thought this was a great holiday and a fantastic way to explore a country we hadn’t been to before. The support team were excellent and the welcome we got from the places we visited was very good. It was one of the best holidays we’ve had.