Trekking with the Ait Atta on their annual migration into Morocco’s High Atlas

This is a highly unusual opportunity to experience 21st century nomadic life first hand, as organised by Natural High for the Telegraph (you can read the article here) in the wilderness of Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains. Over six days, travel with a family of the Ait Atta, a Berber clan whose origins allegedly date back to Goliath, as they migrate with their livestock from their homeland in Jbel Saghrou through the Dades Valley to the summer pastures in the High Atlas Mountains.  Your guide will be a member of the Ait Atta clan.

The Ait Atta live on an immense territory that extends from the High Atlas to the fringes of the Sahara.  Each year, depending on grazing requirements and the vagaries of the climate, they follow a seasonal migratory pattern with their livestock and entire households.  This journey involves six full days of walking with a nomadic family and takes you into the stunning M'goun Massif in the High Atlas mountains, where the sense of wilderness and dramatic landscapes are intoxicating.

The trek provides an insight into the lifestyle of the nomads, with the chance to share and closely experience their daily life during the seasonal migration as they travel, accompanied by their their herds of sheep, goats, mules, donkeys and household.  The hike requires a certain degree of fitness, although it is accompanied by pack mules and camels to carry luggage, food supplies and the wherewithal for a simple camp.  Ideally you should have some previous mountain walking experience and be in good health and physical condition. The daily gain in altitude ranges between 500 to 900 meters. The trails we take have no particular danger and the duration of walking is from 5 to 6 hours per day. 

This is far from a standard tourist experience; travelling with the nomadic Ait Atta means fitting into the organization of the caravan and accepting the decisions of  the nomads’ chief for the breaks, campsites and departure times. It also requires that each member of the team helps with simple chores; loading pack animals, collecting the fire wood, gathering sheep and goats. However, while this will be a relatively unstructured journey with potential for surprises, it is unlikely to be anything but a unique experience.

Posted by: Alex

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