Riding the High Atlas is definitely an incredible MTB adventure, with amazing trails and a totally spectacular lunar environment. Not only are there unique opportunities to ride the slopes of the Atlas Mountains, but a trip to Morocco inevitably involves a unique emotional meeting with Berbers who still live in villages full of life. All along the valleys lie hamlets where participants of Endu’rock the Casbah have the chance to share some moments of Berber life.
The scenery is totally amazing and varied: leaving behind the winter weather of your region to ride amazing landscapes in ideal weather conditions after just six hours travelling. But the shock comes mostly from the cultural divide between our western lives and the total simplicity of that of the Berber’s.
Villages have stood frozen in time, offering a window into a way of life that has reminded constant for the last few centuries. Here the methods of cultivation, house building and daily life in the villages follow ancient rules and ancestral principles. Brief flashes of modern life stand in contrast, such as the emergence of mobile phones and the gradual installation of electricity, life of the Berbers is primarily based on self-sufficiency and a wonderful use of the scarce local resources.
The houses are built with local wood and a mix of dirt and straw. Each villager has a precise task in the life of the community, this selfless practice has ensured the Berbers can endure the harsh conditions.
Suffice to say that with our Western way of life, our individualistic tendencies would not survive for long in this environment.
Constant support and generousness are abundant as we travel through each village. It is rare not to be ushered into the village square to enjoy a mint tea. Chance meetings with Berber’s on the trails often results in surprise, amusement, but always with an incredible tolerance towards us.
The trails of the High Atlas are numerous and in excellent condition. They were constructed to allow trade and exchange between villages. Even today, despite the gradual appearance of paved roads, it is not uncommon to come across convoys of mules, loaded with heavy loads of local produce. People is always extremely courteous and greetings to passing bikes are always cordial and friendly.
Throughout the week, we travel through different places in the region of the High Atlas Occidental. Riding between 30 and 40 km daily of pure enduro, with daily descents of up to 2’000m.
The trails are exceptionally varied and offer an amazing flow, giving the impression that they were designed specifically for bikes. Those who think that the best MTB trails are in the Alps quickly revise their opinions as they discover the endless singletracks offered by the Moroccan mountains.
The climbs are mainly assisted by solid 4×4 vehicles specially equipped to carry mountain bikes. Uplifting over exposed mountainside tracks, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys. It is at this moment that we see the complexity of the logistics necessary for transfers throughout the week.
No signs, sometimes no real roads offer many opportunities to get lost. During the week, we also use mules for transporting bicycles and climbing uphill. Again, it it these unique experiences that you will remember for a long time. Those long walks of several hours offer time to contemplate and appreciate the beautiful surrounding mountains.
With Endu’rock the Casbah, Exoride’s target was to let riders enjoy the best of both worlds…. Not only amazing trail riding with pure enduro trails, but also the discovery of a culture and place long forgotten by progress.
Words & Photos: Exoride