Mount Toubkal - Summer - Morocco
This is a wonderful climb of the spectacular Mount Toubkal in the high Atlas of Morocco in North Africa in summer conditions using a unique less travelled and more authentic route. The mountain is only around 40 miles to the south of Marrakech and on a clear day it can be clearly seen from the city and vice versa. The summer climb is straight forward and easily achieved by most regular hill walkers.
There is time on the itinerary for us to acclimitise properly to altitude and also to enjoy the geographic and cultural aspects of this unique area. Our itinerary travels a less frequented route up to the mountain. This allows us to enjoy the sublime surroundings and historical culture in a more authentic manner and away from the main tourist route.
As part of our itinerary we trek up to the Neltner Refuge in the Isougouane valley and using it as a base. We make day-ascents of the nearby peaks of Timesguida/Ras Ouanoukrim (4088/4083m) and Afella (4040m) before tackling Mt Toubkal (4167m). This is a fantastic trip for those who are enthusiastic about exploring the peaks and valleys of a rugged and spectacular part of the world.
Situated in the North-west corner of Africa, Morocco is a land of great contrasts from the white-washed houses on the fertile Mediterranean coast to the arid brown mountains of the interior.
Our gateway to the mountains is Marrakech so called the red city, and Morocco,s 4th largest with a population of around one and a half million. We overnight here and have the opportunity to explore this ancient city with its exotic souks, palaces , gardens and heaving mass of dust ,noise and colour. The often snow clad summits of the High Atlas provide a wonderful back-drop to the ochre coloured buildings of the city.
Rising out of the haze to the south of Marrakech, the High Atlas ,North Africa,s highest mountains offer us an incredible variety of scenery, a superb network of trails, and challenging peaks. Snow capped for half the year, from West to East they stretch from the Atlantic ocean just north of Agadir, until they fade into the desert on the Algerian border a distance of nearly a thousand miles. Centuries ago the famous Roman geographer Pliny described the high Atlas as “the most fabulous mountains in the whole of Africa”.
By the standards of more popular trekking and climbing areas in Europe the atlas are still remote and scarcely touched by tourism. On our trek we aim to explore the less well known areas, walk on remote trails and climb to the summit of some of the less well known peaks. We want you to experience an authentic Moroccan way of life, and have an appreciation of what a magnificent wilderness area this is.
Adventure Alternative guide and leader Steve Pinfield will usually lead trips to the Toubkal region of Morocco. Steve has a lifetime of experience in mountaineering and wilderness exploration. Amongst many other skills he is an accomplished rock climber and polar expert, coordinating and staffing expeditions to both poles. Steve has an infectious enthusiam for the Atlas Mountains to go with his knowledge and experience.
Dates and Itinerary
|14th September - 21st September||21st May - 28th May|
|19th September - 25th September|
|1||Arrive Marrakech afternoon. Stay in city Riad.|
|2||Drive to Imlil. Walk on hill near Imlil. Stay in Imlil.|
|3||Walk to Tizi Tamaterit. Lunch at Tinerhourine. Walk to Tizi Aguersioual. Back to Stay in Imlil.|
|4||Walk to Tizi Mzik. Walk to Tazaghart. Camp at Lepiney Refuge.|
|5||Walk to Tizi Melloul. Summit Afella. Camp at Nelter Refuge.|
|6||Climb Ras & Timesguida Ouanoukrim. Camp at Nelter Refuge.|
|7||Climb South Cwm of Toubkal. Possibly descend North Cwm. Lunch. Descend to Stay in Imlil.|
|8||Drive to Marrakech. Drive to airport to Depart afternoon/evening.|
|1||450m||Arrive on international flight into Marrakech. Explore the city and meet for a team dinner and introductions in the evening. Spend the night in a comfortable and traditional city riad.|
|2||1700m||After breakfast transfer to the village of Imlil 1740m , a 2 hour drive through wonderful scenery and a 2 nights in Berber family run guest house called Dar Tighoula. Imlil is a small village nestling in the mountains and the starting point for ascents of Mt Toubkal and surrounding peaks. After lunch, we take a walk to help our acclimatisation and gain an insight into the culture of the region. We pass through a number of small villages and get some great views of the peaks above. Traditional Berber dinner in the guest house. L,D|
|3||2250m||Today after breakfast we trek a circuit from Imlil, initially ascending the Tamaterit col 2279m with fine mountain views then descending into the valley beyond. We have lunch at a small Berber village then continue our circuit down the valley over another pass and back to Imlil. It is a fine days hiking with great views, which will continue to aid our acclimatisation and fitness and provides an excellent insight into the Berber culture. Overnight in Dar Tighoula guest house. B,L,D|
|4||3000m||After an early breakfast we help to load the mules and commence the first day of our trek. Our initial target is to ascend and cross the Tizi Mzik a col at 2485m,then continue contouring the valley until we reach a fine lunch stop next to a stream. After lunch we continue ascending, passing some beautiful waterfalls until finally arriving at the Tazaghart (lepiney) refuge 3000m where we will be camping nearby. This area is remote and situated in the upper Azzaden valley dominated by the mighty 650m high cliffs of the Tazaghart plateau. At night we may be able to see the lights of Marrakech. B,L,D|
|5||4015m||Today is a great days walking through inspiring mountain scenery. Our initial challenge is to cross the Tizi Melloul a col at 3875m. We might have to cross patches of snow and negotiate some easy scrambling en route. From the col there will be an opportunity to summit Afella 4015m a short distance away before we start our descent to the Toubkal refuge 3207m where we camp for the night. The Toubkal refuge is the most popular refuge in the region due to its easy access to Mt Toubkal the highest peak in the Atlas and North Africa. B,L,D|
|6||4068m||After breakfast an ascent of Ouanoukrim 4068m and its twin summits Ras and Timesguida. This is a beautiful mountain in a majestic setting and the second highest in the Atlas mountain range. We can also see across the valley to the South west face of Toubkal where we will be tomorrow. Overnight camp near to the refuge. B,L,D|
|7||4167m||After an early breakfast, start our ascent of Mt Toubkal 4167m by the South Cwm with the option to return by an alternative route down the North Cwm. After lunch we continue down the valley to the village of Imlil and spend the night at our Berber family guest house. We have a traditional Moroccan dinner and local music. B,L,D|
|8||450m||After breakfast we back to Marrakech and an option of a transfer to the airport, staying longer in Marrakech or travelling down to the coast before your return home. B|
Mount Toubkal - Summer cost: £495.00
- All food and hot drinks on trek
- Mules to transport main bags
- Western Guide
- Local Moroccan Guides
- All accomodation (tents & Lodges)
- All transportation and airport transfers
- Group equipment
- International Air Fare
- Personal travel Insurance
- Meals in Marrakech
- Mineral water/ soft drinks
- Single room supplements
- Optional Tips for Moroccan Staff (~£20+)
- Additional nights in Marrakech
- Personal spending money (note Moroccan Dihrams are not available abroad, we can help you change/withdraw some in Marrakech)
The ascents on this trip are not technical climbs and no need to traverse precipitous drops along the way, no rock climbing or specialist equipment is needed although some simple low-level scrambling may be needed on the optional ascent of Afella and a section of the mid-part of Ouanoukrim from the Tizi Ouagane. You do not need to be super-fit for this trip, however the climbs are moderately demanding with some long days of sustained walking with a backpack. The effects of altitude may also further tax your body.
You will enjoy the trip all the more if you are in good physical shape having exercised regularly and eaten nutritiously over at least the 6 months leading up to the trip. You do need to be in good health as we will spend some time in locations that are many hours from professional medical care. Any pre-existing medical or dental conditions should be fully appraised by a doctor and their nature fully disclosed to your insurer and to ourselves.
Type of Terrain
Most of the paths are in good condition, some are steeper and looser under foot than others. On the main ascent of Toubkal the path does include some loose scree, which can add to your energy expenditure, especially on the descent. The trails to Ouanoukrim and Afella are less trafficked than the main path up Toubkal so they are more sparse in places. At some points on these paths you will need to use both hands and feet to negotiate a few rocky steps. If you are uncomfortable with low-level scrambling then it is possible to miss out the ascents of Afella and Ouanoukrim.
- The basic idea of the kit we will take is to keep you warm, dry, protected from the sun, able to move efficiently on the mountains and able to be comfortable in the evenings and night. There is a detailed list via the menu below-right but the main points to cover are:-
- BAGS - Large duffle ~90L (carried by mules) + Medium Daypack ~25L (carried by you)
- SHELL - Top and bottoms to keep off wind/rain
- INSULATION - Layered system to keep you warm- body hands & Head
- BASELAYER - Thin layers to wick away sweat and to strip down to and keep the sun off when it gets hot
- FEET - Sturdy trekking boots, flip flops or similar, footwear for city
- SLEEPING - Warm sleeping bag to get a good nights sleep at the refuge
- EATING/DRINKING - Water bottles & favorite snacks for during the day
- WASHING & MEDICAL - To allow you to wash and maybe stave off a headache or blister
Additional Kit Info
When deciding what to bring it is useful to think about what you will be doing on the trip and what the conditions are likely to be like.
At the start of the trip we will be in Marrakech. Here it is likely to be hot but we will be walking gently around town, not carrying anything. For this you just need comfortable light-weight clothing and general shoes. As Morocco is a largely muslim country it is respectful to dress modestly, covering at least most of the length of your arms and legs. This is especially true for women. Temperatures could be up as high as 35degC in the middle of the day with bright sunlight. Sunglasses, sunhat and sun block are therefore pretty much essential.
On a general day of trekking in the mountains we may be getting up early when it may be cooler, perhaps down to 10degC in the shade. We may therefore start walking with thin trekking trousers, a trekking shirt/baselayer and perhaps a jumper or thin fleece. As we warm up while walking, and as the sun comes up above the peaks we start to get hotter. At this point we will probably be wearing a thin top, thin trousers or shorts, sunhat and sunglasses. By mid day it may perhaps be 30degC, although on high passes and peaks the wind-chill of any breeze will make it feel much cooler.
While we are walking we will be carrying just a small rucksack or perhaps 25-35 litres. In this we will have our water/wind proof jacket and trousers, our warmer top, two litres of water, camera etc and perhaps some snacks. When we have finished the day's walk we will arrive at our camp and probably be keen to get our boots and socks off and walk about in flip-flops or sandals. We may then add a warmer layer as the sun goes down
If you do not have all of the euipment that you might need for the trip, you can save the expense of buying it all in one go by hiring some items. This is a good option if you are not sure whether you will use the kit again. Several companies in the UK rent out gear for this purpose and many offer you the option of buying the kit at the end of the trip at a 'used' price.
- We offer small scale, authentic expeditions, which can also be tailormade.
- All our guides and staff are professionally trained and have years of proven experience.
- We have built up partnerships with local guides and drivers which are mutually beneficial and exist on a fair and open basis so that the host country and its people may fully benefit from tourism without being exploited.
- We are continually improving our quality service year on year.
- We are passionate about responsible tourism and our company supports sustainable development worldwide in a real way.
- Adventure Alternative underwrites the charity Moving Mountains.
- Financial security is guaranteed as we are AITO bonded.
- We are members on Interhealth which gives you access to pre-trip health information and on-site assistance by phone in the event of an emergency.