On this short trip we focus on climbing to the summit of North Africa’s highest peak, Jebel Toubkal (4167 metres). We travel from the ancient walled city of Marrakesh to the High Atlas Mountains, enjoying traditional Berber hospitality as we make our ascent. From the peak we have panoramic views across the entire Atlas chain. After the hard work, we have time to relax in Marrakesh. Soak in the hammam, give those muscles some TLC.
- Jebel Toubkal – Ascend to the summit of the highest peak in North Africa
- The Atlas Mountains – Hiking among the stunning landscapes of the High Atlas
- Berber Villages – Discover remote villages and learn about the tradition and culture of the friendly local people
- Marrakesh – A chance to explore Morocco’s captivating ‘Red City’
Detailed Trip Notes
Marrakesh is the spiritual heart of Morocco, the cultural melting pot of the mountain Berbers and the desert peoples of the south, whose eclectic mix of ideals and traditions has resulted in a fascinating clash of colour, noise and visual delights that is straight out of the ‘Arabian Nights’. There may be time on arrival for a brief orientation walk of this fascinating city.
Stay in a Riad, modern hotel, B&B, we can offer you quality accommodations in any price range.
Leaving the city behind us we drive south today, towards the craggy peaks and plunging valleys of the Toubkal Massif. Crossing the Haouz Plain we pass through the tiny town of Asni, from where our road begins to climb towards the foothills of the Massif. Below us the valley of the Oued Rhirhaia stretches out into the distance and small villages cling to the sides of the steep hills as we meander our way towards the village of Imlil (1740m). Here we leave our vehicle and, in the company of our mountain guide, begin our trek, heading along the Mizane Valley, first towards the village of Aremd (1900m) and then onto the shrine of Sidi Chamarouch.
Aremd is the largest village in the valley and provides an interesting mix of traditional terraced farming, gites and streets that seem to be permanently gridlocked by goats and cattle. For generations the local Berber villagers have worked these lands, producing corn, potatoes and walnuts from the harsh landscape. Continuing across the flood plain our route takes us along mule tracks and up into the high rocky cliffs above the valley. Crossing the river we eventually come to the pastoral shrine of Sidi Chamarouch, which attracts tourists and pilgrims alike (although only Muslims are allowed to cross the stone bridge to visit the marabout shrine itself). The village sits beside a small waterfall, a jumbled cluster of houses that seem to melt together into an anarchic mass. From here the trail continues to climb steadily, snaking and zigzagging its way up to the snowline and our camp (3206m). Approx 5-6hrs walking. We sleep in tents that we provide for you! You just carry your daypack.
Early this morning we make our attempt on the summit of Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in Northern Africa. Our route takes us up the south cirque, crossing the stream above the refuge and then heading across one of the mountains numerous scree fields, where we will have to negotiate a seemingly endless carpet of boulders and rocks. The walking is relatively straightforward, but the scree and the altitude will make the going quite difficult in parts, however, the views along the way make the journey more than worthwhile. Cresting the ridgeline we find ourselves on the plateau, from where it is a short walk to the summit and the vistas out across the surrounding landscape are quite breathtaking. From here there are unrestricted views in every direction, from the Marrakesh Plain to the High Atlas in the north and as far south as the Anti-Atlas and the Sahara. Pliny, the great Roman scholar, once described the High Atlas Mountains as ‘the most fabulous mountains in all of Africa’ and from our vantage point high above the valley it is easy to understand why. Retracing our steps we then return down the mountain and head back towards Aremd (1900m), where we will spend the night in a village house. Approx 11-13hrs walking.
Returning on foot to Imlil (1740m) this morning, we then drive back to Marrakesh where, on arrival, you will have some free time to explore the city’s colourful souks and its celebrated Djemma El Fna Square. A feast for the senses, the area is a chaotic confusion of noise and colour, where you will find the streets alive with storytellers and letter-writers, musicians, jugglers and watersellers. There is the option to take an afternoon walking tour around the souks with a local guide, also visiting the museum and the elegant Koutoubia mosque and tower, reputed to be the most perfect Islamic monument in North Africa. Marrakesh is divided into two distinct parts, the Gueliz (or modern French-built city) and the Medina (the Old City) and you may prefer to spend your final afternoon independently exploring its maze of narrow streets, filled with the sounds, colours and smells of the exotic, perhaps haggling for some last minute presents, or just sitting in a café and watching the street tableaux unfold before you.
Your tour ends today in Marrakesh after breakfast. Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may be able to spend some additional time wandering in the souks of the ‘Red City’ or buying the last souvenirs.