During the 25 years that Alan Palmer has been trekking in Morocco he has acquired a comprehensive knowledge of the country in general and the Atlas Mountains in particular. This experience shines through in his excellent new guide. As well as detailed descriptions of the principal Atlas routes he provides a wealth of information essential to the modern traveller. A. Wainwright meets Lonely Planet! The neat maps accompanying the trek narratives have useful hand-written annotations highlighting key features along the way and this pathfinding is backed up with sensible advice about weather, safety, kit etc. Flora and fauna to look out for as we trek are also outlined and illustrated.
But the book is not simply a trekking guide. Morocco is a fascinating country with a rich history of invaders and settlers. The book traces the arrival of first the Phoenicians then the Romans before considering the huge impact of Islam. Much later came the French Protectorate and, following its demise, the present monarchy. The relationship between Berber and Arab is outlined as well as the geology of the mountains themselves plus much more.
The gateway to the Atlas is the exotic city of Marrakech and this mix of ancient and modern rightly commands a chapter of its own. The book describes the harmonious mix of cultures represented by a constant stream of tourists set against proud traditional cultures and complements these thoughts with helpful advice on such practical issues as where to eat, local transport and mint tea.
Now that Morocco is so well served by budget airlines many more trekkers and tourists have the opportunity to fly into its different world in just a few hours. For anyone contemplating such an exciting trip this new guide should be an essential companion. They will find it equally enjoyable reading by home or camp fire. It will be of special interest to those accompanying me on our forthcoming Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers High Atlas trek.
I bought this for a trip to the Atlas mountains along with the Cicerone guide - this one is loads better. More detail, better maps, more practical stuff, and better cultural and historical section. The author has clearly made a real effort to understand the country and comes over very enthusiastic about Morocco.
I ended up only doing a couple of days walk in the Toubkal region but i will be going back, sooner rather than later - what a fantastic place to visit.
My only (very small) gripe is that the Toubkal region chapter is relatively short compared to the other less popular regions.
This was a last minute buy, having been looking for some half-decent trekking maps of the Atlas without success, and proved a very worthy and useful companion. It's a great concise guide, packed with pertinent info, very useful tips (e.g. using grand taxis rather than buses saved me a lot of time and money), and just the right amount of contextual background. The descriptions and occasional wry asides are perfectly composed, capturing the atmosphere of the Moroccan Atlas quite astutely. The hand-drawn small maps marking key navigation points etc. can be invaluable if you're trekking independently on the suggested routes - these were the envy of several French and Belgian trekkers I met along the way, who had travelled extensively in the area and but not managed to find such a useful guide or map.
I rarely buy or carry guidebooks as I only end up using a small part of them - but this proved the exception as pretty much read from cover to cover. Now determined to return to visit the areas and routes described that I didn't have the opportunity to this time!
Note, there are better 1:50,000 and 1:40,000 scale trekking maps available than those referenced in this guide (and other recent Morocco guidebooks) - check out editorial piolet and mapiberia (both Spanish map publishers).
I was given this book as a present and to encourage me to visit Morocco which it has certainly done. It offers the chance for something a little different. Without a local contact it is difficult to properly experience a country, the standard tourist itinary tends to have little to distinguish it from countless other locations. However, this book allows for something special, a unique insight into a very special place. Instead of a Holiday Inn in Marrakech I will be travelling by donkey through the high Atlas. This book imparts confidence, its like having a friend who has travelled before advise you on the best ways of doing things, where and how to travel, what are the must sees and the must buys. Alan Palmer has already put in the hard to work ensure that you dont have to.
What a fabulous book this is. I found it to be extremely useful and well as practical. The book is clearly written and full of interesting anecdotes. There are numerous inspirational photographs and good clear route discriptions backed up by detailed maps. I recommend this book, since it is the best trekking quide to Morocco I have ever read.
An invaluable guide, whether you are planning to go in an organised group, hire your own guide and muleteer or trek alone. The introductory section is full of detailed practical advice, enlivened by quotes from other books that combine to give a vivid picture of what the trekker should expect (my favourite is 'animal droppings should provide a warm, comfortable mattress for sleeping bags'!) There are reasonably comprehensive chapters on Marrakech and Ouarzazate, the main towns trekkers are likely to stay in, so unless you are travelling more extensively in Morocco you would need no other guide book.
As well as the popular Toubkal area of the High Atlas, the guide covers the less-frequented Mgoun, Sirwa (Anti-Atlas) and Jebel Sahro regions. There is a brief introduction to each of the main trekking regions, with very helpful comparative pros and cons of each to help you choose between them. There are details of six short treks, each of 4-7 days. For each route, the guide gives information on how to get to the start and end of the trail, and accommodation and facilities at the trail ends and en route. Particularly for those trekking without a guide, the detailed route descriptions and very clear sketch maps would be an essential adjunct to the topographic maps you would also need to buy, and about which Alan Palmer gives a well-warranted health warning.
A more comprehensive Berber glossary would have been helpful, given that most of the people you will encounter on your trek do not speak French or Arabic, as would more photographs of the scenery.
My friends and I were trekking through Jbel Sahro (south-east Morocco) region and we were using this guidebook. The description of the routes plus info is so thorough that we even didn't have to use the expensive maps which we bought for this trip! Must have it for serious adventurers!
We have been running treks in the Moroccan Atlas Mountians for over 5 years, and of all the books which we have looked at this trekking guide is by far the most informative with some fantastic routes to the more off the beaten track and well used routes.
We have just returned form an excellent trip to Morocco and this book was superb. Plenty of information on trails and walk options, guides and muleteers, it is a very well thought out guide with all the important information you need for your trek. The section on Marrakesh was also excellent, which we used as our Marrakesh guide. It would seem author has spent plenty of time in Morocco and thoroughly understands what information a visitor needs to know, excellently written with wit, humor and much appreciated dash of common sense advice for the unwitting tourist.
I gave 5 stars to this guidebook because it is so comprehensive. Trying to organize your own trek in Morocco without guidance would be difficult. Alan is so experienced with travelling in Morocco that he knows more than most. I recommend this book to anyone who is thinking of organizing their own trek. I also recommend it to anyone who is considering hiring a company to organize everything because you will get a real sense of what is involved. This book not only describes walking routes and how to organize them but also the historical and cultural aspects to this country.