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High Atlas
Range
Jbel Toubkal in Toubkal National Park
Country Morocco
Highest point Jbel Toubkal
 - elevation 4,167 m (13,671 ft)
 - coordinates 31°03′43″N 7°54′58″W / 31.06194°N 7.91611°W / 31.06194; -7.91611
Location of the Atlas Mountains across North Africa
A Kasbah in the Dades valley, High Atlas

High Atlas, also called the Grand Atlas Mountains (Arabic: الاطلس الكبير‎ and French: Haut Atlas) is a mountain range in central Morocco in Northern Africa.

The High Atlas rises in the west at the Atlantic Ocean and stretches in an eastern direction to the Moroccan-Algerian border. At the Atlantic and to the southwest the range drops abruptly and makes an impressive transition to the coast and the Anti-Atlas range. To the north, in the direction of Marrakech, the range descends less abruptly.

The range includes Jbel Toubkal, which at 4,167 m is the highest in the range and lies in Toubkal National Park. The range serves as a weather system barrier in Morocco running east-west and separating the Sahara's climatic influences, which are particularly pronounced in the summer, from the more Mediterranean climate to the north, resulting in dramatic changes in temperature across the range. In the higher elevations in the range snow falls regularly, allowing winter sports. Snow lasts well into late spring in the High Atlas, mostly on the northern faces of the range.

The High Atlas forms the basins for a multiplicity of river systems. The majority of the year-round rivers flow to the north, providing the basis for the settlements there. A number of wadis and seasonal rivers terminate in the deserts to the south and plateaux to the east of the mountains.

Contents

The range

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Western High Atlas

In the west lies the oldest portion of the range. Its high point is the Jbel Toubkal at 4167 m, which is visible from the city of Marrakech. Jbel Toubkal lies in the Toubkal national park, which was created in 1942. The massif consists of Jurassic and Cretaceous formations notched by deep erosion-carved valleys. This part of the range includes the Ourika Valley, which is the only location in the High Atlas where the endangered primate, the Barbary Macaque, Macaca sylvanus, is found; however, this primate is also found in parts of the Middle Atlas and the Rif, as well as parts of Algeria.[1] The Ourika Valley is also a location where a diverse flora was recorded as early as the 19th century.[2]

Central High Atlas

A solid chalk mass morphologically dominated by tabular zones reaching an altitude of 2,500 m extends from Azilal to Ouarzazate. Here, the contrasting landscapes remind visitors of the Colorado, with its high plateaux, its gorges and box canyons, and its peaks sometimes splintered by erosion. Several peaks in this area exceed 4000 m, with Jbel Mgoun at 4068 m being the highest peak in this part of the High Atlas. The area is populated by Berbers.

Eastern High Atlas

Village of the eastern High Atlas

The eastern part of the High Atlas forms vast plateaux at high altitude which provide the headwaters for the Moulouya River. It extends from the town of Khenifra and includes oases at Jbel Ayachi (at 3747 m), Jbel Saghro and Jbel Sirwa (3305 m). This portion of the range includes the solid mass of the Tamlelt whose northern edge is occupied by its higher peaks, such Jbel Ayachi at 3,747 m. The altitude falls towards the east where the mountains join the pre-Saharan zone.

This massif became an internationally famous paleontological site after the discovery of the bones of the completely unknown ancestor of the dinosaurs, Atlasaurus, which populated Morocco 180 million years ago. This dinosaur is also named Tazoudasaurus, after the name of the village of Tazouda where it was discovered. The creature, about nine metres long, is postulated to be an ancestor of the Sauropoda found in America. Until 140 million years ago the African and American continents were connected.

Areas of interest

Travel over the high mountain passes is worthwhile. At the foot of the High Atlas one finds Aït Benhaddou, a Kasbah or castle still in use.[1] Among the summits at 1600 m height lies the Kasbah of Télouet on the road to Marrakech.

The canyons and ravines of the Dadès and the Todra are also impressive.

References

Line notes

  1. ^ C. Michael Hogan, 2008
  2. ^ Joseph Dalton Hooker, John Ball and George Maw, 1878

External links



Photo gallery

Coordinates: 31°26′N 6°56′W / 31.433°N 6.933°W / 31.433; -6.933


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Africa : North Africa : Morocco : High Atlas
Contents
A traditional Berber village
A traditional Berber village

The High Atlas is a region in Morocco covering the mountain range and surrounding destinations such as Marrakech. It's a regular destination for mountain hikers, ski enthusiasts, or travellers interested in the indigenous Berber culture found throughout its many peaks and valleys.

Understand

Berbers are the indigenous North Africans, having inhabited the north coast of Africa ranging from present day Morocco to Egypt, for at least 5,000 years.

The Arab invasion of North Africa in the 7th century forced Berbers to assimilate, or take refuge in the Atlas mountains.

It is said that as much as 80% of the Moroccan population is racially Berber, however only half of those people live culturally Berber lifestyles.

Berbers have adopted Islam as their primary religion, but continue to speak dialectic Berber in their villages, and practice Berber music, spirituality, and art.

The Atlas mountains are home to relatively pure Berber populations, who live in earthen adobe houses. Marrakech is the only Moroccan city with a recognizable Berber ambiance, being situated at the base of the southern Atlas mountains. The color of Marrakech is the color of the Berbers - reddish, ochre and earth tones are the only colors you see adorning the adobe buildings, giving the impression that the entire city springs from the earth.

  • Marrakech – It's long been a city that conjures up images from your wildest dreams. It's a great market town and a great place to eat
  • Amizmiz – A small Berber town that hosts one of the largest Berber souks in the region. A great point of departure for the small Berber villages of the mountains.
  • Asni – A small town at the foothills of the High Atlas
  • Setti Fatma – Berber town at the end of the Ourika Valley
Walking to the Todra Gorge
Walking to the Todra Gorge
  • Imlil Starting point for some awesome hiking. Only 75 minutes from Marrakech by shared taxi.
  • Tinerhir – This town is the perfect point of access to the stunning Todra Gorge.

The stunning Ourika Valley - situated less than 30 minutes from the Marrakech Medina - is a portal to the High Atlas, and home to many Berber villages.

Do

If you are looking to experience how real Berbers live in the High Atlas, there are different outfits that will help you get to some of their villages.

  • Valerie and Abdel. moroccanworkshops@yahoo.co.uk will put you in touch with an experienced and multi lingual guide in Taroudant, Morocco for 1 to 5 day walks of varying intensity, staying in a tent or with selected Berber people in the mountains. They are environmentalists and use local transport where required, no 4x4s! Inexpensive with small percentage of cost going to help local schools and projects, which you may visit  edit

Sleep

Marrakech hotel Kasbah Omar [1] is the first luxury Morocco riad to be built in a Berber village. Located in the village of Anrar in the Ourika Valley, it has panoramic views of the mountains and the river valley and, at night, the lights of center city of Marrakech in the distance.

Anrar is a village of about 52 Berber families, who farm organically in the valley below and tend to their goats in the mountains above. Their lifestyle is agrarian and self - sufficient. You will find exceptional craftmanship of pottery, carpets, and jewelry, and a charming, jovial hospitality.

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