Morocco is a remote destination with a growing reputation for all types of cycling. In Morocco, we tried our hardest to come up with this post. Finally, we have this blog as a starting point for anyone interested in cycling in Morocco, as well as incredible memories of mind-blowing rides and wonderful people.
When you think of Morocco, you might imagine crazy drivers, rough roads, pickpockets, bartering, and bad food – all the ingredients for a bad cycling vacation! But reconsider: Morocco is a vast country with varied terrain, beautiful landscapes, friendly people, delicious food, fabulous guesthouses, and some seriously good riding.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO RIDING IN MOROCCO?
It is critical to carefully plan your visit. Avoid the summer months of June through August because it is simply too hot. With balmy temperatures and ideal conditions for legs-out riding, autumn, winter, and early spring are all excellent times to cycle. Just be aware that if you want to ride the high Atlas mountains in ‘winter,’ you may encounter some snow and ice at altitude. The ice usually melts by mid-morning, providing an excellent excuse for a leisurely Moroccan breakfast before heading to work.
SELECTING A BIKE FOR MOROCCAN CYCLING:
This is a huge question with no correct or incorrect answer. The first thing to understand is that cycling as a sport or a way to spend a vacation is not common in this country. You can see locals on crammed onto scooters, donkeys, pick-up trucks, or simply walking from point A to point B. The only bikes around are Decathlon rejects, which are occasionally seen grinding up massive mountain passes – and not for fun.
A lightweight machine will make a significant difference for us pleasure cyclists when cycling in the mountains. Wide tires will make a significant difference on rough roads (of which there are a fair few). A pure road bike would be too harsh, but an endurance road bike with 30 c tires would be ideal if you planned to do mostly road riding.
A gravel bike makes a lot of sense in Morocco. Not only will you be able to absorb the bumps on rough sections of the road, but you’ll also be able to turn off on a desert track or swap out a busier road for a dirt one.
Yes, you will have to work a little harder on any pure road climbs, but the effort will be well worth it.
Mountain bikers would have a great time here as well; hardcore mountain bikers should check out Mount Toubkal. It is the highest mountain in North Africa, standing at 4,167 meters. There are specialized guides who can take you up; just make sure you have adequate insurance for the descent.
Is it secure? How is the traffic?
Traffic has its own set of rules. Drivers are generally not in a hurry, but they will engage in risky overtaking maneuvers to avoid slow-moving trucks. Cyclists (as well as donkeys, pedestrians, and scooters) are generally given space, but it’s definitely worth doing your research on which roads are great and which roads are best avoided. Quiet roads are fantastic roads. You can attempt the busy roads when absolutely necessary.
Cycling in Marrakech is only fun if you’re an experienced rider with bike messenger skills and a strong nerve. Embrace the flow and everything will probably be fine, or simply hitch a ride 20 kilometers outside of town to keep things zen.
What to eat in Morocco?
If you dislike cumin, do not visit Morocco. Cumin is literally the spice of life in this country, and it is almost in all the dishes. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat are the main foods in this country, making it difficult to eat unhealthily.
Moroccan staples include tagine, a slow-cooked stew with chicken, lamb, beef, and vegetables. There is also couscous with chicken, lamb, beef, and vegetables. Meals are a delicious blend of sweet and spicy flavors, but nothing is too hot to eat. Soups and meat grilled over open fires are also popular.
Breakfast is a delicious combination of fresh juices, bread in various forms served with olive oil or jams, and eggs fried (with cumin!) or as an omelet.
Fresh fruit is on the menu, and delicious fresh juices are available. It is possible to find good coffee, but it is not guaranteed. Berber Whiskey is widely available, as is an herbal tea made from various fresh herbs and it is with or without sugar.
That brings us nicely to the topic of alcohol. While you are in Morocco you can drink, and there is a local beer as well as two or three wineries. It is possible to order an alcoholic drink from a menu in fancy hotels, licensed bars, and tourist areas, but not in off-the-beaten-path rural areas (where your bicycle is most likely to take you).
If you really need a drink to recover from a long day on the saddle, be discreet when asking at your guesthouse, or simply stick to Berber Whiskey (tea!) and enjoy the mental clarity and health benefits that abstaining from alcohol brings!
Cycling Routes in Morocco
Now for the exciting part! There are no set cycling routes in Morocco, as there are in European cycling hotspots such as Girona, Mallorca, and Calpe. However, there are some fantastic highlights to include in your itinerary.
Tizi n’Tichka Pass – the gateway to the High Atlas, this pass connects Marrakesh to the road to the Sahara desert in the south. GCN used this climb on their bikepacking Morocco adventure. It’s a paved road climb that can be quite congested because it’s the main route for vehicles heading south. The road is constantly in flux, with near-constant roadworks taking place to keep the route open. The climb reaches a height of 2,260 meters. The climb from Zerkten (already at 1,200 m) is over 30 kilometers long. The gradients are consistent, and the views are breathtaking!
Ait Benhaddou to Telouet – The road connecting these two towns is simply spectacular. The paved road climbs alongside a river from Ait Benhaddou, a 1000-year-old mud city and UNESCO World Heritage site. As the road ascends, take in the sights of local villages. The surface is paved but occasionally broken and gravelly; a road bike with wide tires or a gravel bike is recommended. This road is also an alternative descent from the Tizi n’Tichka Pass.
IS IT OKEY TO WEAR LYCRA OR SPANDEX?
Yes, but you’ll stick out like a sore thumb and may feel uncomfortable!
For women, there is still a stigma associated with exposing bare skin. So ladies will feel more at ease wearing lightweight, floaty materials that act as a cover-up, especially off the bike. It is also the best clothing to wear outside in the sun, in addition to respecting local culture. However, there are unwritten rules for tourists, and many Moroccan women on vacation set out to get a tan without consequence.
Lycra is likely the most comfortable choice for on-the-bike clothing. However, baggier clothing such as mountain bike/gravel/touring gear will still be comfortable and help you blend in a little better. It’s something that everyone will appreciate. If you stop at a local cafe for a bite to eat, whether you’re a male or female cyclist, but it’s entirely up to you.
Our cycling tours include 4-day tours on bikes, 6 days on bikes, and 8 days of cycling tours.
If you want to do a cycling adventure in Morocco just contact us and we will amaze you:
Phone number: 00212680878420