Video: A Trip to Morocco's High Atlas Mountains - Pinkbike


Morocco is actually a kinda special destination. Of course, many people have heard about it, but only a small percentage of them are able to imagine at least a bit of what it really looks like.When winter hits our homes in central Europe many riders start to think how to survive it. If you want to ride outside and not be freezing along the way you have to travel. That’s for sure. Personally, I like to do things differently than others and I always look for new ways. More than a decade ago, as one of the first Czechs, I have started to travel to the area of San Remo and Finale Ligure to stay in shape during winter months. Now, when the temperature goes below zero, my feed on my Facebook changes to a report site just out of this area. Why not? It's affordable and there are just so many world-class trails, and the weather is usually pretty good for riding all year round. I've been there about 30 times already, but I just like that feeling of exploring something new. That’s why I have been traveling a lot in the winter months during recent years. Especially I was caught by South East Asia. This winter was no different. I traveled to Indonesia again. I’m far from seeing everything, and to tell the truth, I just really enjoy my time there. Unfortunately, due to the bad luck of a fracture of my girlfriend's leg, we had to return home after a pretty short time and I started to think about how I would make it through the freezing months. At that point, I got an offer to explore another country I've had for a long time in my bucket list - Morocco. Cheap flights before Christmas assured me, so I called my friend Stanley Sehnal right away… and in a few days we were sitting on the plane.

Where did we land, bro?

Every time I go somewhere, I try to find out some information to be able to react to what can happen. If you are for example going to be in dialogue with the local people, it is good to know at least where you are, what do they eat, etc. This time, however, it was different. I got an invitation from local guys and they told me they were from Marrakech. After arriving, I was shocked by the fact that we drove straight to the highest mountains, slept almost 2,000 m above sea level, and the highest mountain of North Africa, Toubkal – 4,162m, was right behind our house.Morocco is a special destination. Of course, many people have heard about it, but only a small percentage of them are able to imagine at least a bit of what it really looks like. It is also because it has a lot of different faces. From seaside towns across the Sahara desert to really hardcore alpine terrain. We spent half of our stay in a small village of Aroumd, just above the more famous village of Imlil. It is used as a base for those, who want to summit the already mentioned Toubkal. The second half we slept each time in a different valley. We climbed through passed a large part of the mountain range of High Atlas.

We did not come to sunbathe!

Many people may think that it is pretty hot all the time in Morocco. But this is not the case, at least not in December when we visited the mountains. If you would like to visit Morocco with your bike, it is recommended from April to November. We were supposedly lucky in December. The temperature was about 5 °C at night (no heating in the houses). During the day it climbed to around 25 °C, but when we were in the shade, it was pretty clear that summer was already gone. Trails ... Yes, people still walk a lot. Our daily bread was almost exclusively the mountain range of High Atlas. I was really surprised how many faces Morocco can have in a single day. We just climbed the pass and suddenly we found ourselves in another climatic zone. We rode from ice to desert terrain. The paths are used by the locals for hundreds of ages. Still, most people walk here to stay alive or walk with their donkeys for supplies tens of kilometers every day. Loose and rocky terrain often creates obstacles that are not easy to ride. Occasionally, the trails have a smooth surface and a "flow" and we were once again amazed at their diversity. Out of 14 days, we rode 12, and it was the maximum that we managed physically. It was not easy, especially from the start. The altitude and the strong sun were just exhausting.

Donkeys are just everywhere. I've never saw so many in my whole life. If you like adventure, I do not just mean the one on a bike, this is exactly for you. In Morocco, you will experience something "different" even when you go to the store to buy some water. The combination of untouched nature, beautiful views, great trails, and Moroccan culture is simply a mix that you should experience.
Overview This country has a lot to offer. If you are just a bit "bored" by too much “groomed” Europe (or whatever place you live) and you want to see, how people lived many decades or hundreds of years ago - it is surely the choice for you. Travelling opens our minds and Morocco is definitely one of those countries that is unbelievably close to how much it can open it. Great trails, people and weather - that's why I’ll be back one day, for sure. Cheers,

Matej Charvat
Stats: Age: 33 • Height: 6' • Weight: 173lb • Riding for: Banshee Bikes
Twenty years of racing mountain bikes including World cups, mainly downhill means a lot of addiction to riding. I'm doing what I love, exploring the world with my bike, meeting new friends and hopefully motivating somebody not to live their lives behind the desk. Except other projects, I started to produce some creative content in recent years and I let my second me do the cinematography and photography thing, which was always my hobby. Check my Instagram or YouTube Channel for more cool stuff from my trips.