The picturesque village of Imlil is located in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains. As well as being a prime destination for hiking enthusiasts, it is also a popular destination for keen cyclists. As well as shorter local trails through the mountains and other nearby Berber communities, those who want a longer experience can spend a day riding the 67 kilometres (42 miles) from Marrakech. The hustle and bustle of the Red City fades away, with the surroundings becoming more rural as riders get out into the countryside and ascend the foothills of the mountains. The journey can be completed in a day. After exploring Imlil and spending the night in a local accommodation, why not continue to Ijoukak? The scenic valley village is located 62 kilometers (39 miles) from Imlil.
Tafraoute is an oasis town in the Anti Atlas Mountains. Start your trip on the beaches of Agadir before cycling 166 kilometres (116 miles) into the mountains. Travelling from the coast to the mountains lets you appreciate the varied nature of Morocco’s diverse terrains. There are several interesting communities to explore on the way, and there are plenty of places to break the journey and rest for the night if desired.
Nestled in a stunning valley, Tafraoute is one of Morocco’s natural gems. Surrounded by nature and exuding a laid-back vibe, local attractions around Tafraoute include Les Roches Bleues (the Blue Rocks), an eye-catching piece of art work with painted blue rocks standing out against the naturally red surroundings, Ait Mansour Gorge, hilltop granaries, and a rock formation, La Tete du Lion, that looks like a lion’s head. In town, the museum of La Maison Traditionelle offers insights into the Berber way of life. Soothe your muscles and wash away the day’s grime in the Old Hammam. If you don’t want the long ride from Agadir, preferring to just explore locally, there are several bicycle rental shops in the town. Bike around the Amlen Valley and soak up the natural splendour.
Sitting on the fringe of the world-famous Sahara Desert, Zagora is gaining popularity among foreign visitors keen to experience desert life. Still an active trading post, the area is also home to several tribal groups. Popular activities in the locale include camel riding, camping in traditional Bedouin tents and marveling at sandy expanses. The Tinfou Dunes present an impressive sight.
A great cycling route to Zagora is to start at the “Door to the Desert”, Ouarzazate. Explore the well-preserved kasbah of Ait Benhaddou, visit the local movie studios, and admire the large Taourirt Kasbah before beginning your journey to the desert through the mountains. Make a detour to the Fint Oasis, one of Morocco’s hidden jewels. Soar through the splendid Draa Valley and feast your eyes on the wonderful vistas. Zagora is 163 kilometres (101 miles) from Ouarzazate.
Located 32 kilometres (20 miles) from Marrakech, the fertile Ourika Valley is popular with hikers and cyclists. Snow-topped mountains rise in the distance as you peddle through verdant back country on minor roads. You can see how locals live as you cycle through villages and small communities; stop to refuel at a roadside eatery and soak up the atmosphere. Within the Ourika Valley, the riverside restaurants at Setti Fatma are also appealing. You can cycle there and back in a day. Independent rides are possible if you rent a bicycle, or you can join a guided cycling trip whereby you will be transported part of the way towards the mountains by minivan. The nearby Gadji Valley is another ideal destination for cycling enthusiasts.
Other excellent cycling destinations in Morocco include around Chefchaouen and the Rif Mountains, the Ahansal Valley, Tiznit and Merzouga.
Tips for Cycling in Morocco
Cycling is possible throughout the year in most parts of Morocco. The hot temperatures in the summer can make cycling different, though. The coastal areas are reasonably cool year round. Carry plenty of water and refill at every opportunity regardless of the time of year you cycle around Morocco.
The Atlantic coast typically offers flatter terrain with less challenging cycling routes.
In general, look for a motor mechanic if you need bicycle repairs.
Be wary of placing items in a bike basket; snatch and runs may occur, especially in more populated areas. Cycling through the maze-like streets of old medinas can be a hair-raising experience for the uninitiated.
People drive and cycle on the right-hand side of the road in Morocco.