Ifrane National Park is located in the northcentral part of Morocco. It is situated in the central part of the Atlas mountain range. The park covers an area of 193.05 square miles (500 sq km).
The mountainous national park is blanketed in many parts with the Atlas cedar trees. Wetlands, high-altitude forests, and endemic habitats are part of what make the national park such a vital protected area.
The altitude of the park ranges from 4,590 to 7,874 (1,300 to 2,400 m) above sea level. The higher mountains are located in the neighboring Toubkal National Park which features the famous Mount Toubkal.
Approximately a tenth of the world’s population of Atlas Cedar is located here in the park. The ecosystem is also home to the endangered Barbary Macaque with approximately 25% of the entire global population found here in Ifrane.
Lake Afennourir and Tifounassine are two of the wetlands that are identified as places of international importance by the Ramsar Convention. There are additional lakes and forests that complement these essential wetlands.
There are over 1,000 species of vegetation with the Atlas Cedar serving as the focal point. Other common species include Algerian oak, evergreen oak, maritime pine, and the Spanish juniper. The rich and diverse forested ecosystem serves as a wonderful habitat for the endangered macaques as well as other bird and wildlife species.
Some of the popular wildlife includes boar, caracal, genet, jackal, and serval. There are a variety of bird species and even bird-watching platforms to make it easier.
The Atlas Mountains and accompanying forested landscape serve as the cornerstone of the national park and for many people the highlight of the protected area. The Atlas Mountains divide the coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
However, when most people think of the Atlas Mountains that think of the neighboring Toubkal National Park. The elevations are lower here in Ifrane which gives ways to the dense and diverse ecosystem of the forests that blanket the area and serve as the habitat for the endangered Barbary macaque.
The Barbary macaque is one of the most renowned old-world monkey species. It is the only macaque species that is found outside of Asia with almost 25% of the population accounted for by Ifrane National Park.
The males are typically about 24 inches (60 cm) in length while the females are slightly shorter coming in around 21.9 inches (55.37 cm). The males can weigh as much as 35 pounds (17 kg) while the females are quite a bit lighter weighing about 21.8 pounds (10.3 kg).
Trails of Ifrane National Park
There are a good number of trails available for exploring the area. The majority of trails range from easy to moderate making it fairly easy for anyone to be able to experience the park.
Panorama Loop Trail: This easy rated loop trail covers a distance of 2.1 miles (3.38 km) that meanders through the forest. There are chances to see the macaques as well as birdwatching and seeing wildflowers.
Link Loop Trail: This is another loop trail that is rated easy. It is a little longer, however, it also provides opportunities for birdwatching, seeing the monkeys, and capturing views of wildflowers. The trail covers a distance of 3.6 miles (5.79 km).
Monkey Trail: This trail is also called the 3M Squared Loop Trail and is one of the park favorites. It travels a circular path through astounding cedars as well as the oak forests while providing views of wildflowers as well. The trail ascends 803 feet (244.75 m) while also providing opportunities to see wildlife and birdwatching over a distance of 4.6 miles (7.72 km).
- Atlas Mountains
- Barbary Macaque
- All Trails, Best Trails in Ifrane National Park, https://www.alltrails.com/parks/morocco/ifrane-national-park, retrieved July 2020.
- Britannica, Barbary Macaque, https://www.britannica.com/animal/Barbary-macaque, retrieved July 2020.
- Britannica, Ifrane, https://www.britannica.com/place/Ifrane, retrieved July 2020.
- Culture Trip, 10 Things to do in Ifrane, https://theculturetrip.com/africa/morocco/articles/10-top-things-to-do-in-ifrane/, retrieved July 2020.
- Lonely Planet, Ifrane National Park, https://www.lonelyplanet.com/morocco/ifrane-national-park, retrieved July 2020.
- Marocecotourisme, Ifrane, https://www.marocecotourisme.com/en/moroccan_national_parks_ifrane.php, retrieved July 2020.
- Visit Morocco, Ifrane, https://www.visitmorocco.com/en/travel/ifrane, retrieved July 2020.
- Wikipedia, Barbary Macaque, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbary_macaque, retrieved July 2020.
- World Wildlife Fund, The Places You’ll Go: Ifrane National Park, https://www.worldwildlife.org/blogs/good-nature-travel/posts/the-places-you-ll-go-ifrane-national-park, retrieved July 2020.