Mount Toubkal and Moroccan Desert

9 Days

Price from: £595.00

Mountaineering
Trekking

A combined trip involving a Toubkal summit trek and visits to the Sahara desert...

This package is both a challenging high peak mountain climb to the roof of Northern Africa and a culturally stimulating Moroccan desert experience where you can explore the arid Saharan landscapes and get closer to kasbahs, camels and berber villages.

  • Mount Toubkal and Moroccan Desert image
  • Highlights
  • High Atlas Mountains
  • Summit of Mt Toubkal
  • Stay in Berber villages
  • Visit ancient gorges
  • Beautiful high sand dunes
  • World-famous kasbah visit
Morocco is an exotic country of vibrant contrasts: from sandy beaches and impressive mountains to lush forests and scorching deserts. It is the northern gateway to Africa and is said to be the closest destination to the UK where you can expect to see a totally different culture to our own. It is an affordable and increasingly popular holiday destination and thanks to its wonderful climate, it is pleasant to visit all year round.

Marrakech sits in the foothills of the High Atlas but shares the predominantly Mediterranean climate of north-east Morocco. Summers are normally very hot and dry with scarce rainfall and temperatures of 40C plus. However, once you climb out of the searing heat of the valleys, temperatures are generally fairly comfortable, although it can be very cold on the highest peaks during the night. At this time of year, rivers and other water sources become mere trickles or disappear completely.

The High Atlas, the greatest mountain range of North Africa, is perhaps the most beautiful and intriguing part of Morocco. It has retained a remoteness which until recent decades was virtually complete, and contains villages where the way of life has changed little for centuries. This trip has been designed for experienced walkers who are looking for a reasonably challenging trek in the Atlas Mountains with time to enjoy the exciting city of Marrakech. Like all mountain systems, the Atlas ranges are liable to rapid weather changes. Snow is even possible on the summit of Toubkal in August.

Mount Toubkal (4167m) is the highest mountain in North Africa. The hike to the summit is challenging, but it requires no mountaineering experience and the panoramic view from the summit makes the hard work worthwhile. After the High Atlas Mountain range lays a mysterious, surreal and stunning landscape. This is the heart of old Morocco - the pre Sahara desert. It's like stepping back in time into an all forgotten world; a world of fortified villages, Berber castles (Kasbahs) and abandoned Foreign Legion outposts. The Sahara region is where you'll find one of the most diverse and dramatic landscapes in Morocco.

Activity Information

Mount Toubkal at 4167m is well above the height at which the effects of altitude can begin to take hold. Specifically AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). This condition can affect a person of any age, gender or fitness level but it can be life threatening if not respondsed to (i.e. by moving down to a lower altitude). Common symptoms include dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue. These can all be managed but if the effects worsen professional help should be sought. During a quick ascent such as this one, the effects of altitude are brought to a minimum and should not affect any climber too badly. Drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough sleep will encourage successful acclimatisation.

Itinerary

Day 1

After arrival in Marrakech, you wil be transferred to the little village of Imlil. Here you will be able to explore the area and you will spend the night in a local gite.

Day 2

Walking time: 5 hours
Today we begin our trek. Heading along the Mizane Valley, we first pass the village of Aremd. We then continue east and by crossing the flood plains 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. From here the trail continues to climb steadily, snaking and zig-zagging its way up to the snowline and the Toukbal Refuge (3206m), our stop for the night.

Day 3

Walking time: 9 hours
Early in the morning we make our attempt to the summit of Jebel Toukbal, the highest peak in Northern Africa. Our route takes us up the south cirque, crossing the stream above the refuge. The walking is relatively straightforward, but the scree and the altitude will make the going quite difficult in parts. The views along the way make the journey more than worthwhile. When you reach the the summit you will see that the vistas 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 Desert. We will retrace our steps when we return down the mountain and head back towards Imlil. Spend the night in Imlil.

Day 4

Today drive towards the Moroccan desert. First we cross the spectacular Tizi n'Tichka Pass of the High Atlas mountains. You will pass through many Berber villages and once in the desert, there are riverside oases and barren hillsides which are clustered with Kasbahs. After lunch we drive further to the Valley of the Roses, with beautiful views of the Dades Valley, valley of a thousand kasbahs. Overnight in Dades.

Day 5

After breakfast we drive to Todra Gorge and after a short stop there we drive on to the dunes of Erg Chebbi. We will arrive there at around 4pm and after a short break you will ride camels into the dunes, where you will spend the night in berber tents. After seeing a beautiful sunset you will enjoy a fantastic dinner at the camp.

Day 6

After viewing the most beautiful sunrise and having breakfast at the camp site you will ride the camels back to the auberge. From there it will be a long day driving to Ait Ben Haddou. Ait Ben Haddou is a small town with one of the best-preserved and most sought-after Kasbah's to visit in all of Morocco. Here you will spend the night.

Day 7

After breakfast drive back to Marrakech, again via Tichka Pass. You will arrive in Marrakech early in the afternoon, giving you some time to explore the city.

Day 8

Free day in Marrakech to do some sightseeing or to relax.

Day 9

Departure from Marrakech.

Reference

  • This itinerary is intended only as a guideline. Weather conditions and other factors may occasionally cause the routes to be changed in order to guarantee your safety.

Dates and Prices Info

This package is available all year round. Prices are based on groups of 5-12 people.

What's Included?

  • Full event planning and client liaison
  • Airport transfers
  • Experienced local mountain guide
  • Local driver, muleteers and cook
  • Accommodation: 4 nights simple hotel/riad, 2 nights in local gites, 2 nights in Berber tent
  • All meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner included during Toubkal trek
  • Breakfast and dinner included during desert trek
  • Breakfast only in Marrakech
  • Transport: minibus or 4x4 for transfers to/from High Atlas

Not Included

  • International flights
  • Sleeping bags
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals: Lunch during desert trek, lunch and dinners in Marrakech
  • Tips
  • Entrance Fees
  • Drinks and items of a personal nature

Information

Although credit and debit cards are beginning to gain some acceptance in the Atlas Mountains, this is still only fairly rare. It is safest to presume that everything in the Atlas Mountains must be paid for in cash (moroccan dirhams). Even though ATMs are becoming much more common in towns and cities, they are yet to reach many trailheads, less so mountain villages.

Ask Activus

If you have any questions about this activity please do not hesitate to ask.

Grade: Difficult

Suitable for...

Those with some previous experience of mountain walking and those interested in enriching cultural experiences. Trekking in the Atlas Mountains can be warm and sunny during the day but the weather in the mountains can quickly change from sunshine to snow and cold winds (autumn through late spring). Parts of this trip will involve strenuous walking so participants must be of good fitness level.

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