Al Hoceima National Park encompasses 470 square kilometres of mountainous terrain hugging the craggy Moroccan coastline. At least 170 square kilometres of the park is made up of ocean, while the rest of the landscape comprises evergreen pine forests and impressive canyons flanked by limestone cliffs.
This isolated and remote area is relatively unknown, and only the privy have enjoyed the sweeping aerial views of Morocco’s coast and endless ocean. Dusty jeep tracks curve their way through the park, providing easy routes for walking, mountain biking and 4×4 activities.
In the forested areas, visitors might be lucky enough to spot endemic bird species, wild boar and jackals. For the adventurous at heart, there are hidden coves and beaches where it’s possible to spot loggerhead turtles and dolphins. The park is freckled with Berber settlements, eager to introduce curious visitors to their local wares.
Situated in northern Morocco, the closest town to the national park is Al Hoceima. The presence of the international airport (Cherif Al Idrissi Airport) in town makes the area easily accessible. Getting to the actual park from the town does require planning.
Accommodation options in Al Hoceima National Park cater for every taste and budget. There are several high-end resorts for those seeking more luxurious overnight facilities. Budget options are also available, including cottages for hikers inside the park.
Sightings of the common, bottlenose and striped dolphin are an everyday occurrence while monk seals and sea turtles are occasionally spotted.
The spectacular coastline provides a perfect habitat for sea-birds, while the cascading cliffs house hideaways for nesting raptors. There is a huge colony of Africa fish eagle in the park, as well as ospreys. Birders with a keen interest in shorebirds, sea birds and raptors will delight in the abundant sightings of these species. In total, there are 70 species of bird in the area.
The Mediterranean waters provide an ideal habitat for the common, bottlenose and striped dolphin. Occasionally monk seals and sea turtles are spotted close to the small bay areas. The forested areas of the park provide shelter for wild boar, jackal and other small mammals.
June to September is the summer period. Temperatures are extreme during this time of year, making hiking uncomfortable. However, this is the perfect time of year for snorkelling, swimming and general beach activities.
Winter months are characterised by short bursts of rain. November to March is considered the winter period. Hiking and outdoor pursuits are best done during the more moderate time of year from April to October.
Al Hoceima National Park is an adventure lover’s dream! From ocean excursions to hiking and mountain biking, there is so much to do in the park. There is at least 30 kilometres of jeep track and single track cutting through the coast, ideal for hiking, mountain biking and 4WDing. For longer hikes, trekkers will be pleased to know that there are overnight cottages dotted across the park. Hiking trails head inwards towards the densely forested areas, where an array of birds, critters and small mammals can be spotted.
The small hidden bays are often discovered while out hiking. It’s worth scrambling down the rocky paths to discover the private beaches where the possibility of spotting dolphins is high. Kayaking, canoeing and fishing are a few on-water activities to be enjoyed in the park. There are over 100 species of fish in this part of the ocean. Dive centres are readily available in the town centre, and scuba diving excursions can easily be arranged. Beneath the big blue, snorkellers can spot the incredibly rare giant ribbed Mediterranean limpet, turtles and dolphins.
Accommodation options are varied, and most places are located in the main town of Al Hoceima, or on the fringe of the park. There are several high-end resorts built on cliffs overlooking the vast ocean. These hotels and small resorts are simply breathtaking. More budget accommodation options are available in the town centre, while inside the park there are a few cottages available for hikers.