Ifrane National Park stretches across 500 square kilometres of cedar forest, rolling green hills and mountainous terrain in the Middle Atlas Mountains. Ifrane is often referred to as Morocco’s “Garden of Eden” because of its contrasting scenes of marshy wetlands, cherry orchards and Alpine forests. Visitors often marvel at the sheer diverse ecology of this protected park, and its typically “un-Morrocan” landscapes.
The region is also home to a tenth of the world’s cedar forests. The two lakes that provide a haven for birdlife—Lake Afennourir and Tifounassine—are Ramsar sites. But that’s not the park’s only claim to fame. The cornerstone of the park is its massive concentration of Barbary Macaque, an old-world monkey species. Ifrane is home to the world’s highest concentration of Barbary macaque.
The best way to explore the region is to walk one of the many loops and wildlife trails crisscrossing through the park. While exploring the park on foot in search of wildlife and scenic viewpoints, visitors can expect to see local Berber communities herding sheep and going about their daily life. During the winter, ski fanatics flock to the steep mountain slopes blanketed in thick snow. The ski station in the park hints at a lifestyle synonymous with European ski destinations.
This unique destination is easily accessible from the neighbouring town of Fez, a popular tourist destination. There is an international airport in the Fez, which is located approximately two hours from the park.
From November to March, during the northern hemisphere’s winter, there are a variety of ski-activities on offer in Ifrane National Park.
There is the opportunity to observe wildlife as well as members of the local Berber communities herding their sheep.
Ifrane National Park houses a rich diversity of fauna and flora, with quite distinct ecological zones. A highlight of visiting the park is witnessing the sheer number of Barbary macaques darting from tree to tree, entertaining onlookers with their antics. In addition to these primate sightings, visitors can also expect to see Barbary boars, genet, golden jackal, and even the predatory caracal.
The Ramsar wetland sites are sought-after destinations for birding and provide a fantastic selection of avifauna to observe. Bird species to spot include coots, egrets, snipes, greater flamingos, Alpine swift, Eurasian marsh-harrier and Bonelli’s eagle.
Ifrane National Park is a year-round destination and is open seven days a week. It’s a fantastic place to visit through all seasons. During the winter, from November to March, there’s a typically European skiing atmosphere at the Michlifen Ski Station. During the summer months, the region is ideal for tackling hiking and walking trails. Trails are well-marked and better navigated from June to September. The best time to visit is dependent entirely on what visitors want from their Morocco holiday.
This is a premier destination for the outdoor enthusiast and is home to interesting wildlife and birdlife. The park offers a host of mountain trails for both the novice and seasoned hiker. And if that's not all, Ifrane is a lesser-known skiing destination that's comparable with its European counterparts.
There are six hiking trails in the area, popular with hikers and runners. One or two of the trails can be utilised for mountain biking and horse riding. The Panorama route is a short trail that snakes its way through forested regions, the Loop Trail is ideal for birdwatching and spotting monkeys, and the Monkey trail is a firm favourite with visitors. The Monkey trail is ideal for both wildlife and bird watching.
There are Alpine chateaus close to the national park, decorated in bold and warm colours. The decor is almost Morocco meets Switzerland. There is one specific resort designed to reflect the true ski-resort atmosphere—it's completely luxurious.
Around the park, visitors can find premier golf resorts, five-star hotels and a variety of budget accommodation options. This is a popular tourist destination, so visitors will be hard-pressed not to find something to their taste. Within the Ifrane town, there are a few European style hotels.