Geography in Morocco
The almost 450,000 km² land area of Morocco is very varied in terms of its surface shape and landscape and is therefore a popular destination for adventure travel. Geographically, the travel destination Morocco can be divided into the coastal regions in the north and west, the mountain regions with the High and Middle Atlas and the Rif Mountains, the Atlantic region with the Moroccan plateau called Meseta, the transmontane regions with the plateaus in the northeast and the basin landscape subdivide in the border area of the Sahara and the Anti-Atlas
On the land side, Morocco borders Algeria in the east and the Western Sahara territory in the south and south-east, which was partially annexed by Morocco, but whose political future and affiliation, recognized under international law, is still unclear or disputed.
In the north and northwest, Morocco, with its coastal regions popular for travel, borders on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The crescent-shaped Mediterranean coast with its north-western tip facing Europe is mostly steep and rocky with its many capes and bays, while the Atlantic coast, in contrast, is very flat and has many sandy beaches.
The Meseta, rising from the Atlantic to the east, is framed in the south and east by the striking mountain ranges of the High and Middle Atlas, which act as an important climatic divide and shield the Atlantic-Mediterranean air-conditioned Morocco from the arid regions of the Sahara. The Atlas Mountains form, as it were, the morphological backbone of the country and represent both a natural and economic-cultural barrier. The High Atlas stretches over around 800 km in a gentle curve from the southwest to the northeast. Its rugged and steep peaks give it a high mountain character. The 4167 m high Jabal Toubkal is the highest point in Morocco and at the same time the highest mountain in all of North Africa. 300 km to the north of this is the Middle Atlas, which at heights of over 3000 m. Above sea level. NN increases. The up to 2456 m high Rif Mountains form the northern part of the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. Earthquakes, as most recently the Agadir earthquake in 1960, show that the mountain-building processes in this region continue to this day.
Southeast of the Atlas Mountains, the surface shape of Morocco gradually changes over the transmontane region into wide, steppe-like plateaus. To the south of it, as well as in the area of the Western Sahara that extends to the Atlantic, the fringes of the Sahara, ideal for adventurous desert trips, extend with idyllic oases and sandstone plateaus furrowed by wadis.
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Flora and fauna in Morocco
The climatic differences between the northern and southern parts of Morocco caused by the Atlas Mountains also have an impact on the flora of the travel destination. While predominantly Mediterranean plant species can be found on a trip through Morocco northwest of the Atlas, desert steppe spreads southeast of it. Closed forest stands can be found in the rainy mountain areas and the western plains of the country. Stone oaks and cork oaks, Aleppo pines and Atlas cedars can be found here. The forest areas cover only about a tenth of the country’s area. South-east of the Atlas Mountains you can find dry steppes overgrown with tufted grasses and thorn bushes, and in the north-eastern high steppe there is also the resistant half-grass. Argan trees and jujubes grow in the southern coastal area, while in the other coastal areas of Morocco the original Mediterranean vegetation has given way to the tree heather, strawberry trees, pistachios, juniper species and dwarf palms due to human influence. Date palms are cultivated in the few oases.
Most of the wild animals have withdrawn to the more sparsely populated areas of Morocco. Numerous mammals such as barbary apes, gazelles, hyenas, jackals and the desert fox can be observed on our trips. Reptiles such as snakes, turtles, lizards and chameleons are also well represented. Some of the animal species living here, such as the leopard or the desert lynx, are threatened with extinction. Half of the 452 bird species also breed regularly in the country, in addition, many migratory bird species are guests in Morocco, especially in winter.
National parks and nature conservation in Morocco
A number of protected areas and national parks now protect the unique landscapes and habitats for the flora and fauna of Morocco. The Toubkal National Park in the High Atlas with the over 4000m high peak Jabal Toubka was declared a national park as early as 1942. The Tazekka National Park was founded in 1950 as Morocco’s second national park in the north-eastern Middle Atlas and protects the forests and cave systems that are worth seeing when traveling, including the largest stalactite cave in North Africa around the 1,980 m high Jbel Tazekka. Other national parks in the Atlas and Rift Mountains are the impressive Talassemtane National Park, the Ifrane National Park and the Haut Atlas Oriental National Park. The Al Hoceima National Park is interesting for trips to Morocco’s Mediterranean coast. On the Atlantic coast in southwest Morocco, in the Souss Massa National Park, the abundant bird life of the adjacent deserts around the mouth of the Oued Souss and Oued Massa rivers can be observed.
The desert landscapes of Morocco are opened up for travelers from the national parks D’Iriqui on the border with Algeria, Bas Draa and Khenifiss on the Atlantic. In addition, there is the Dakhla National Park in the disputed Western Sahara territory.