Morocco is like another world, and is just a few hours from London! It is a great place to visit if you are looking for a cycling holiday!
In Morocco there are 16,000 miles of paved roads and only a small number of these are used by drivers making mountain biking in Morocco ideal.
Morocco offers some of the most exciting and varied cycling areas in the world with its desert, its mountains and its seaside village.
What to watch out for when Mountain Biking in Morocco
When cycling / mountain biking in Morocco, it's important to watch out for the following:
Cycling around city centres
Be careful when cycling around congested areas such as Marrakesh or Casablanca where there are lots of cars. Cycling around the busy streets of Morocco isn't the easiest thing as drivers are not used to sharing the roads with cyclists.
Take care of your belongings
Thefts and scams have been reported in Morocco especially in the busy marketplaces. Most of the population is helpful, hospitable and honest, however, just like any country it's wise to keep an eye on your belongings and not go around flashing expensive items like cameras or money.
Morocco is an Islamic country so be modest in what you wear. No short skirts, shorts or tank tops. Wear a bikini or swimsuit only at a pool or on a beach. You could attract attention regardless of what you wear, but if you dress provocatively the attention can be a lot worse.
Different regions in Morocco
Atlantic Coast Region
The Atlantic Coast Region is a good choice for cyclists all year round. This region has a relatively mild climate meaning it's perfect for cycling no matter when you visit Morocco.
There is a great road which winds all around the South coast of Casablanca, then Safi, Essaouira and Agadir.
There are also other roads which are not as heavily travelled including the Fez - Marrakesh roads which head all the way to the Atlantic. There are also 6 or 7 routes to Casablanca alone. The best cycling can be found on the routes that offer the least direct access to the big cities.
Rif Mountain Region
The Rif Mountain region includes the routes from Tetouan to Oujda and Melilla and also the mountain range which goes to the South. The Rif Mountain region is famous for hashish production and therefore you are likely to be harassed by hashish sellers. The police around this area are also very suspicious of foreigners so even though this area is extremely beautiful, it is not recommended for cycling.
The Atlas Mountains (which are made up of the Moyen Atlas (Middle Atlas), the Haut Atlas (High Atlas) and the Anti Atlas) is an amazing place to ride as the scenery is spectacular and beautiful. However, this is a route that only the experienced cyclist should partake as the routes are jagged and tough to ride. The Atlas Mountains has passes well over 2000m (about 6500 feet) and these routes are often shadowed by fog and therefore the visibility around these areas is dramatically reduced. If you are up for a challenge, cycling around this area is definitely worth cycling around as it offers some very diverse, exciting and astounding views and loops.
This area does not have that many roads, but it is a rewarding place to go cycling. This is because there is a sparse population in this area and they have not seen so many tourists so they offer a more natural and genuine hospitality. If you cycle from Midelt to Marrakesh you will pass some spiritual routes and this area is also quite scenic too. Bring enough water and food though, as services in this area are quite limited and be aware that temperatures in this area can go up to 40oC (104oF) in the hotter months.
For decades this was a military zone which is gradually opening up again for travel now that peace agreements have been signed. The area is home to thousands of unexploded mines and explosions have been known to happen which have caused death and injuries. Travel around this area remains heavily restricted and persons wishing to travel around this area have to obtain information from the Moroccan Embassy regarding clearance requirements.
Summary: Mountain biking in Morocco
Morocco offers such a wide range of routes, some for the adventurous and some for the not so adventurous. If you have four weeks to spend in Morocco and you would like a challenge the there is a nice loop that you can cycle which goes around the midsection of the country. This route will take you to mountains, plains, beaches, surf, and sand.
There are many variations of this route which can be done but the most common one is:
- Casablanca - Meknes - Midelt - Dade's Valley - Ouarzazate - Marrakesh - Safi - Casablanca.
If you are looking for an easier cycling experience on your Morocco mountain biking adventure, maybe because you are not so confident on a bike or you are travelling with children, then it's best to stay in the regions near the Atlantic coast as these routes are relatively flat.
Follow the Berber trail through Atlas mountain villages, sleep in Sahara desert tents and traditional riads, explore imperial cities, munch couscous in the souqs, and take it easy on the beaches of Agadir.