A spectacular long weekend climbing the highest peak in Morocco Toubkal
South of mystical Marrakech lie the Atlas Mountains, rising to over 4000 metres and including Mount Toubkal (4167m), the highest peak in North Africa. Mount Toubkal is usually clear of snow by mid summer and presents nothing more than steep hiking on well-marked trails across scree and rock. A 2-hour drive from Marrakech, followed by a moderately-paced 5-hour hike and you’re at the Neltner Refuge at just over 3200 metres. This easily accessible mountain can be tackled within the course of a long weekend. However, to fit this climb within just 2 days (Marrakech to Marrakech) we make our ascent from the Neltner Refuge and return to the roadhead at the village of Aremd before transfering back to Marrakech within a single, long day! This adventurous weekend will appeal to regular mountain walkers looking for a challenge and offers the chance to experience the delights of Morocco and the High Atlas in a short trekking break. From the colourful souks of Marrakech trading spices, carpets and leather goods, to the pretty stone-built villages of the Berber people, this is a fantastic weekend escape for those in need of a quick adventurous fix!
A GENUINE SMALL GROUP ADVENTURE – THE SECRET OF OUR SUCCESS ON TOUBKAL AND IN MOROCCO
We are proud to say that our holidays in Morocco are limited to a maximum group size of 12, ensuring we leave only our footprints on the trails whilst enjoying a genuine small group adventure. We’ve been taking our clients walking, trekking and mountaineering for almost thirty years so we know the ingredients of a good guide and a successful group adventure. On our Toubkal treks, the mountain is neither particularly high nor technically demanding, but the experience and knowledge of our Moroccan leaders, teamed with a smaller group size, can make a big difference to your chances of success on summit day. Those who are new to High Atlas trekking will take particular comfort in the presence of our experienced Moroccan guides, who we believe are the best in the business. Our Toubkal Weekend remains one of our best selling trips due to our fantastic local team.
Is this holiday for you?
The maximum altitude attained on this trekking holiday is not great and we spend only one night at just above 3200 metres (10,500 feet). This means that altitude acclimatisation is not usually a problem. However, climbing Toubkal from the Neltner Refuge and then hiking out to Aremd in a single day is a relatively tough undertaking, with about 1000 metres of ascent and almost 2200 metres of descent. We follow a good trail up to the Neltner Refuge and a rough mountain track on Toubkal itself, including zig-zag trails on scree. You will need to ensure you are physically prepared for the trek. You should be comfortable with walking on good trails but with some steep ascents and descents. You should also be prepared to walk for 10 hours on the second of the trekking days on this trip. This weekend holiday should be within the capabilities of fit and active hikers.
Meet at the group hotel in Marrakech. Airport transfers are included from Marrakech Airport. On arrival in Marrakech you will be met by a KE representative who will assist with the short transfer to the group hotel in the city. Depending on your flight arrival time, after settling in you may have the opportunity to do a little exploration. Marrakech is a friendly city and quite easy to get around and most people head for the central square of the Djemaa-el-Fna beneath the imposing tower of the Koutoubia Mosque. KE group package services begin with the evening meal taken at the group hotel or a nearby restaurant. The group leader will give a trip briefing during dinner. Overnight at the group hotel.
Transfer to Imlil. Trek to the Neltner Refuge below Mount Toubkal. After breakfast, we will set off on the short drive to the start point of our trek. We drive southwards out of the city, with the peaks of the Atlas ahead of us. At the bazaar town of Asni, we turn away from the main road and begin to climb into the foothills of the Atlas. Our route follows the picturesque Mizan Valley as far as the small hill town of Imlil where we meet our muleteers and trek crew. The area around Imlil was recently used as the backdrop for parts of the major Hollywood movie, 'Kundun'. The old kasbah above the village was renovated and made to look like a Tibetan temple. Setting off on trek, the trail follows the river and climbs quite gradually for an hour and a half to the seasonal village and holy shrine of Sidi Chamharouch (2310m) which is surrounded by rocky peaks. A huge white-painted boulder marks the spot where, legend has it, a holy man lies entombed. Beyond here it is a steady climb of around 4 hours to reach the Neltner Refuge (3207m). Operated by the Club Alpin Francais this hut was only completed in 2000 and has been designed to (loosely) resemble a Berber fortified dwelling. The hut sleeps around 80 people in dormitory accommodation. The refuge is a very basic mountain hut but it does have bathrooms and showers, plus a couple of large dining areas and a lounge with an open fire. Morning ascent of Mount Toubkal (4167m) and descend to Imlil. Afternoon transfer to Marrakech. A long day for the ascent of Jebel Toubkal (4167m), North Africa’s highest peak. After an early breakfast, we set off on the steep ascent. Our route zig-zags eastwards, directly above the hut across scree and boulders, before passing between two rocky guardian peaks to reach a high corrie which usually holds patches of old snow. We continue upwards across more scree, with the views becoming more expansive as we reach the ridge-line which drops off steeply to the east. After a total of 3 to 4 hours, we arrive at the distinctive metal tripod which marks Toubkal’s summit. There are breathtaking views of the peaks of the High Atlas away to the north-east and of the Anti Atlas (Jebel Sirwa prominent) and the Sahara to the south. Descending to the hut in 2 hours, we have lunch before making the long hot walk back down to Imlil, passing several wayside stalls en route, where it is possible to buy a cup of Berber tea or a cool drink. Meeting up with our transport, we make the return drive to Marrakech, where we check in at the group hotel. We have our final dinner tonight in a local restaurant.
Airport transfers to Marrakech Airport are provided. services end after breakfast. There is a complimentary transfer to the airport to check in for the return flight.