Families looking to experience an intoxicating blend of wilderness and culture will love a few days exploring Morocco's High Atlas Mountains
Our treks in the Atlas use private tented camps carried on the backs of mules to explore remote mountain valleys, far from any signs of the modern world.
Travelling in this way is hugely exciting for families and routes can be chosen to cater for all ages and levels of fitness. All these trips are organised privately for each family and lead by a highly experienced Berber mountain guide, likely born and raised in these very mountains.
There aren't many better ways to get your kids off-grid and off-screen within a few hours of Europe”
Into the Mountains
An early start from Marrakech and you quickly leave the chaos behind and head for the snow-capped mountains. Expect spectacular views, switchbacks and mountain passes before you crest the mountains and enter the dry country of southern Morocco. A stop for lunch and then continue to the remote spot where you'll meet your camp and crew for the beginning of your trek
The trek begins
The day begins with breakfast in the crisp mountain air - freshly brewed tea and coffee, crepes cooked in camp, plenty of fruit, toast, cereal and more. As you eat, the camp crew will begin to dismantle the camp and pack it on to the mules in preparation for the day's move.
Away from it all
After breakfast the walk begins and usually follows mule tracks that follow gentle contour lines beside streams, steep sided valleys and soaring mountain passes. Terraced valley floors green with immaculately tended crops contrast with the rocky landscape and thyme bushes at higher altitudes. The pace is gentle and there are plenty of stops to rest, take in the sensational views and replenish your energy with dates and nuts. A riding mule can be arranged for those who tire of walking.
A daily rythm
Around mid-morning you'll be overtaken by the mule train as they go ahead of you to set up camp for the night. All except the lunch mule who (as the name suggests) will meet you with a lavish picnic allowing you to rest up in the heat of the day. In the evenings you'll walk in to camp to find the tents up, dinner on the go and freshly prepared mint tea awaiting you, while around camp the mules graze peacefully - free from their burdens.
HOW FAR & HOW OLD?
The walks can be adapted to suit you, but in general you should expect to be on your feet for 3-4 hours in the mornings and a couple of hours after lunch. The pace is gentle though and as the trips are totally private the walk can be done at your own pace.
We've done these walks with children as young as two years old (admittedly he was carried for much of the time in a backpack) and kids of eight upwards will manage fine if they are buoyed up by other children. In our experience the best possible plan is to travel as a couple of families as this is a great way to stave off the "are we nearly there" type questions.
If you're unsure whether your children will enjoy this, give us a call. We won't recommend something if we arent sure you'll enjoy it.
A note from Alex
Early days with our kids were spent in East Africa and holidays were trips into wild areas where that connection with the elements was exhilarating.
Moving back to England the lack of proximity to wilderness left a big gap in our lives. Until we discovered Morocco with it's vast tracts of untamed land that seem not to have changed for centuries. More intriguing was the idea that safari here was something that hadnt changed either. Travel by mule through the valleys and passes of the High Atlas with mules carrying your camp and you're doing what travellers have done in Morocco for hundreds of years.
After extensive research trips we connected with the wonderful Berber partners - now friends - that we've been working with for many years. With them we've walked the mountains and deserts, travelled with nomadic pastoralists and shared all of this with our children. Morocco is a thrilling country to explore with children for its complete contrast to European life and it's striking cultural integrity - if you do go, spend at least a night or two under canvas.
Our experienced travellers include:
It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.
All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.
"They were incredibly helpful with choosing which camps we should go to and they took extra time to learn about us as a family so that they could be most able to advise us...I found them extremely willing to answer any questions and always responded in an extremely quick manner. Our itinerary went exactly as outlined and was very comforting to have someone every step of the way who was there to facilitate our moves between camps. We felt very lucky to have seen the parts of Kenya that we did and we would have never been able to research enough to affect the same things on our own."
"Natural High provides great personalized service - they have incredible knowledge of Africa, and work with you to focus your interests and match you with an amazing experience. We have always had unbelievable trips with Natural High!"
Best holiday and a true "once in a lifetime" experience
"I've been on many lovely holidays, but have never before had the ultimate luxury of such a personalised itinerary. Natural High Safari's attention to detail and total consideration of our particular requirements was quite simply brilliant! Our guide Joseph taught us more than we could ever have hoped, and my sons are looking forward to taking him on an English Safari, though we'll be sorely challenged to make it remotely as exciting and wonderful as the trip we had with him."
"Excellent the partner in Belize, excellent guide and service. The program choosen for he group was realy tailor made."
"Have just returned from a fabulous holiday booked through Natural High safaris. From the initial conversations through to the end of the holiday it was easy and stress-free. Everything went without a hitch, transfer times and connecting flights were all perfectly co-ordinated and the accommodation was lovely. My only niggle was that I couldn't get hold of Vanessa at the office and sometimes my messages were not passed on so I had to call again. Thank you too for all the little goodies that you sent through before and after our trip - a lovely touch!"