For a short duration trip this certainly packs a punch! The beauty of the Atlas Mountains in winter, the Alpine feel of several nights in a mountain refuge, the summit of the highest mountain in North Africa (and maybe other 4000 metre peaks if time allows) and all topped off with the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. Phew!
Day 1 – Flight to Marrakech and transfer to Imlil. The team will head out from the UK and fly into the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. A speedy transfer from the airport will get us to our first night base in the tranquil village of Imlil which is the perfect jumping off point to the Atlas Mountains.
Day 2 – Trek to Toubkal Refuge. After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast we’ll trek up to the Toubkal refuge. A slow and steady approach will allow our bodies to start adapting to the altitude increase and allow us plenty of time to savour the mountains. We’ll also make use of the friendly muleteers to carry the bulk of our luggage ensuring we can saunter along with just a small day pack of essentials. We’ll arrive at the hut in time for a good meal and a cosy bed.
Day 3/4 – Skill development and acclimatisation near Toubkal Refuge. With our base established at the hut we’ll now spend the next couple of days developing a range of essential skills. The itinerary will be kept flexible to make the best use of the weather and conditions but we’ll cover a host of skills including;
Choosing suitable equipment and clothing for winter
Developing efficient footwork for winter
Use of ice axe/ ice axe arrest
Use of crampons/ movement techniques
Avalanche awareness and avoidance
Introduction to winter weather and winter navigation
Managing safety on steep ground
Planning a day out in winter
Constructing emergency snow shelters and emergency procedures
Route choice in winter conditions
Day 5 – Jebel Toubkal ascent. An early night on day 4 will help prepare us for a very early start up Jebel Toubkal today. Toubkal is certainly a challenge but our time at altitude and our winter skills practice over the last few days will have prepared us well for the ascent. We’ll make our way to the top, enjoy the obligatory summit photo opportunities and then head back down to the hut for lunch. After lunch we’ll continue our descent back to Imlil before transferring to Marrakech for a night in a cosy hotel. Marrakech is a vibrant and bustling city that really comes to life at night – perfect for enjoying a well earned celebratory meal.
Day 6 – Time in Marrakech and return to U.K. Our last day in Morocco will give you the chance for some souvenir shopping, to visit a few sites or maybe to just relax in a traditional Morroccan Hammam (bath house) before we transfer to the airport for the journey home.
You may be returning to your desk the morning after your return but you’ll do so with a rosy glow and the memories of a great adventure under your belt. A perfect adventure.
Here are a list of questions clients frequently ask about our Morocco expeditions. We hope you’ll find the info you need but, if there’s something you want to know that we haven’t covered, please call or email us and we’ll be more than happy to help. In fact, if you’ve thought of it then the chances are other people have too – so we’ll add it to the list!
What is Morocco like?
Morocco is an amazing country that will provide any visitor with an unforgettable experience – it may only be a short flight away from the UK and yet it feels like a different world. It is certainly special because of its superb mountain geography, but visitors will also be awed by the sleepy mountain villages, the warm welcome from locals, the lush figs and tasty tagines, the blue skies and the vibrancy of night time Marrakech.
Location – Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It has been ruled by several countries over the years but regained its independence in 1956. Rabat is the capital and the country has a population of over 36 million.
Geography – We arrive into the city of Marrakech and, although we soon leave to head to the mountains, the team will have some time back in Marrakech at the end.
Morocco is a country of contrasts with coastal areas, desert areas and, of course, mountains. The Atlas mountains effectively carve Morocco in two and is home to the stunning Todra and Dades gorges, the palmeries of Tinehir and the Berber city of Ouarzazate. Jebel Toubkal is only one of many peaks in the range but, at 4,167 metres, it is the highest in the country and actually the highest peak in North Africa.
Marrakech itself is a vibrant city founded way back in 1062. It has had a turbulent history with attacks and occupancy from various European countries, but since the country gained independence it has been a peaceful venue much loved by the travellers that are its main economy.
The Mediterranean climate of Morocco can be compared to that of Southern California. The weather varies quite widely across the country but the Atlas Mountains certainly enjoy mostly sunny days and chilly nights (although, just like all mountain areas, the weather can be variable at times).
People – The people of Morocco are largely divided into Arabs and Berbers. The Arabs came to Morocco way back in the 8th century and make up the majority of the population. Berbers come from one of 4 main groups (Soussi, Ruffians, The High Atlas and Chleuhs) and each group has its own dialect and way of life. Most of of trip will be spent in the Atlas Mountains and you will soon be immersed in the rich culture of the Berber people who are known to be the longest established inhabitants of Morocco.
What is the currency of Morocco and how much money will I need?
The currency of Morocco is the Dirham and they are easy to obtain once in country. We will send advice on how much to bring for each itinerary with your Joining Instructions but generally about £100 should be plenty for this trip – this will cover a few meals, drinks tips for local staff and other minor expenses such as and toiletries. Of course, if you want to buy a number of souvenirs you may need more. We suggest bringing this as euros or a mixture of euros and pounds sterling.
What equipment is provided and do I have to pay to use it?
We supply any technical equipment and all camping equipment is provided except sleeping bags. You will simply need to supply suitable clothing, a rucksack and sleeping bag but detailed information on exactly what you will need is available on the kit list which will be sent with your Joining Instructions.
We are always keen to minimise your expenditure wherever possible and often there are cheaper options to some of the more expensive items needed. Please don’t let the cost of equipment be a barrier to you coming along.
Who is looking after me?
Most of our overseas trips are led by Peak Mountaineering director Paul Lewis and he will be leading our 2021 Jebel Toubkal expedition. Paul is a holder of the Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor Award (WMCI) which is the highest mountain instructing qualification available under the UK qualifications framework. Paul also has extensive experience of guiding overseas altitude expeditions and he has visited Morocco many times. Paul will be supported on the trip by local guides and our in-country agent.
How safe are these trips?
Any trip carries risk. Add to this the additional hazards of travelling in a developing country and journeying into mountainous terrain and the risks obviously multiply. So, it would be impossible and irresponsible for us to claim that any of our expeditions can ever be completely safe. Infact, we’d argue that an element of risk is an integral part of any adventure – our job is to try and minimise and control the risk with careful planning and ongoing risk management.
Peak Mountaineering has an unblemished safety record and we make client safety our top priority. As well as using the best guides and in-country support we also run a UK based incident management system during all overseas expeditions. This means we can always seek help if needed and we also engage a third party crisis management company who can help if needed.
Our team will also carry a comprehensive medical kit and Paul is a holder of the Wilderness Medical Training Advanced Medicine Certificate. Our Morocco teams carry a satellite messaging system and mobile signal is available in several parts of the range. Team members are also welcome to attend one of our scheduled Outdoor First Aid courses for only 50% of the full course fee (we’ll send you the dates and further details when you book). As well as making you a qualified first aider you’ll also feel better prepared for the unexpected.
What standard of living will I experience?
Our expeditions are competitively priced but we also want you to have a good standard of living during your expedition. In Imlil we stay in a comfortable mountain lodge with all facilities and for our last nigh in Marrakech we stay in a very good standard Riad (traditional small hotel).
During our trekking phase we will be camping in simple mountain tents and conditions are basic. We will be accompanied by a cook team and have access to a mess tent and food will again be simple but plentiful. Overall, you will certainly be well looked after but do have to be prepared for very simple facilities and a back to basics lifestyle.
Do I need insurance?
We have professional indemnity insurance but it is essential for you to purchase specialist rescue, medical and repatriation insurance and details of your insurance policy must be sent to us before departure. The following companies provide appropriate insurance:
British Mountaineering Council www.thebmc.co.uk 0870 010 4878
Snowcard Insurance Services www.snowcard.co.uk 01327 262 805
What age do you need to be?
We can only offer this trip to anyone over 18 but we don’t specify an upper age limit – anyone over 18 who can cope with both the physical aspects of the trip and the basic living conditions is welcome to join us. Please contact us to discuss if you aren’t sure.
Will you give my details to other people?
All information supplied to us remains completely confidential and we will never pass it on to third parties.
How big will the group be?
We always have to work out the minimum number of people needed to make a trip viable and for this trip the minimum required is 5 people. We also cap the trip numbers at a maximum of 12 as we believe groups over this size are more difficult to manage and also lose their sense of cohesion. As a guide, we usually end up with group numbers of around 8-10 on most of our trips.
What happens if I become sick and I’m unable to continue with the trip, can’t make the summit or there is an incident requiring emergency assistance?
We try to take as many steps to keep team members healthy (such as careful preparation of food and ensuring all consumed water is purified) but unfortunately there is always the risk that you may be come unwell. Similarly, even with a good acclimatisation profile some people do struggle to adapt to the altitude. Your expedition leader will be constantly assessing the health of team members and if someone does become unwell they will discuss options with you.
Sometimes the situation can be managed and the team member is able to simply wait at a lower altitude or rest until their condition has improved sufficiently to continue. Sometimes the only option is evacuation. If a participant does have to descend or leave the group they will be accompanied by a local staff member. As this falls outside the itinerary the costs for this would need to be met by the individual.
In some cases it may not be possible for a team member to walk themselves out of the mountains and we might then need to consider other means of evacuation. The availability of helicopters can be limited but maybe available. Sometimes an alternative is to use a mule to carry a team member to safety. Again, any costs for evacuation would fall to the individual and so it is essential that any insurance policy covers helicopter evacuation (please do be aware that some insurance companies do charge an excess for helicopter evacuation).
Medical facilities in the mountains are very limited and so the team do carry equipment and a range of medicines to try and help team members with medical problems or medical emergencies. These measures may all help, but we do always want to be clear again that travel in remote areas and at altitude can never be risk free.
What if I need to cancel a course booking?
If you cancel over 26 weeks in advance of a course start date we refund all the money you have paid us so far. If you cancel within 26 weeks of a course start date, you forfeit the deposit, but we refund any other money you may have paid. If you cancel within 8 weeks of the course start date you forfeit the full amount unless we are able to resell your place. Please do check our Terms and Conditions page for more detailed information. To cover this eventuality we recommend you take out an insurance policy that includes cancellation of your trip or holiday.
How do I book?
All our courses can be booked online or we are always available to deal with your booking via phone or email if preferred. If you’d like to arrange a private guided option please contact us directly and we’ll be able to help.
Can you guarantee good weather?
Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather. However, we do always try to plan areas and routes that should be appropriate for the activity and offer the best conditions. Of course the mountains are the mountains and conditions do very year to year and so we do aim to follow our itinerary as closely as possible but reserve the right to change it for safety reasons if required.
Can you cater for specific dietary requirements?
Certainly. Please let us know beforehand and we will be able to help.
Will I have to carry a heavy rucksack?
Our Morocco expeditions are fully supported and so your main luggage will be carried by a mule. This is a great help as it means all you have to carry each day is a rucksack containing the essentials for that day of trekking. Typically this pack will need to contain similar items to those you’d take on a hill walk in the UK and you’ll be given full information on this prior to departure. Sometimes you might also be asked to carry an item on the team’s emergency equipment but this won’t be more than the size of something like a sandwich box and weighing no more than a kilo.
Is the water safe to drink?
It isn’t safe to drink untreated water anywhere in Morocco. We issue our team members with water purification solution and will teach each team member how to manage the treatment of their drinking water. This is an easy process and soon becomes a part of the everyday routine. In some places purified water is available and bottled water is also an option sometimes – we do try to discourage the overuse of bottled water wherever possible though to help minimise plastic waste.
How do you try to reduce your environmental impact?
We are passionate about protecting the natural environment. Please take the time to read our Environment Page to discover more about our ethos.
Do you need to know about medical conditions?
It is essential that you let us know about any medical condition or injury when booking and you will also be asked to complete a detailed Medical Questionaire in the lead up to the trip. The information provided will remain completely confidential but it is essential that we have a full picture of each team members health to ensure the safety of yourself and to protect other group members. Depending on the information given we may ask for additional details or may ask that you consult your doctor to get their permission to join the trip. We try to be as inclusive as possible but hope you understand why this is so important.
Below is a comprehensive kit list and we’re sure, as you read it, it will look rather daunting! But don’t worry – most of the kit you’ll need is just standard outdoor kit so you won’t have to spend loads. There are a few specialist items but some can be hired from our recommended hire service if needed. Details on this service are at the bottom of the page.
We have also included some additional information about boots at the bottom too. Having correct footwear for this trip is essential for comfort and safety and we do ask that you read it carefully. Boots are an item that can be hired if needed.
If there are items on the list that you aren’t sure about please do ask. We are always just on the end of an email or phone call if you need advice.
Please also remember that everything you take will need to be carried by a mule. So, please bring enough to be comfortable – but don’t overdo it!
Finally, it is worth mentioning that it will also be possible to leave some items in the Riad so it is worth bringing a spare lockable bag for this.
- 35-40 Litre rucksack – this is the rucksack you’ll use every day of our trek and for your summit attempt. If it’s comfy you’ll have a happy days walking. If not your life may be hell! Please also be aware that there will be some team safety items that we will ask each team member to carry. This is usually about a large lunchbox sized item that will weigh no more than a kilo – so please do ensure your rucksack has about 10 litres of spare space about your personal items are packed
- Boots – It is essential to have comfortable, supporting well fitting boots that have been ‘broken in’ thoroughly before the trip. Please do not buy them the week before – uncomfortable boots will be another item that can make your life hell. For this trip a 3/4 season crampon compatible boot is required
- Sandals or flip flops – great for letting your feet breathe after a days trekking
- Comfortable shoes – A pair of comfortable shoes that can be worn around town or in the the refuge. Approach shoe type shoes work really well and sometimes people like to also wear these for the walk up to the refuge
- Waterproof jacket – a fully waterproof and durable breathable jacket
- Waterproof trousers – again, please make sure they are fully waterproof and breathable and it will make your life much easier if they have side zips to allow you to pull them on over your boots
- Duvet jacket – an expedition warmth duvet jacket is an essential safety item. You’ll also really appreciate it when you head out in the evenings to watch the stars. Down works well in the cold dry conditions but synthetic insulation will also work well. Whichever you choose, it is essential that it has a warmth rating to -10 degrees Celsius
- Fleece x 2 – midweight fleeces that can be layered together are the best option. These can be picked up very cheaply and don’t need to be a branded make
- Thermal /wicking tops x 3 – a mix of short and long sleeve
- Thermal leggings – great to wear under your mountain trousers on chilly days or as cosy pyjamas in your sleeping bag
- Trekking and mountain trousers x 2 pairs – ideal to have a thicker and a more lightweight pair
- Underwear – You won’t easily be able to wash these in the refuge and so it pays to have enough to tide you over for the duration of the trip
- T-shirts – a couple of cotton T shirts for general wear
- Good quality trekking socks x 3 pairs – you really do get what you pay for with trekking socks and they make a huge difference to your comfort.
- Liner socks x 3 pairs – these are a lightweight sock that should be worn under your trekking socks. They will help prevent rubbing and really improve your comfort
- Liner gloves – depends on circulation as to how thick they should be but you want these to be dextrous enough to do fine motor tasks. We favour Merino for their excellent warmth to weight
- Mountain gloves – A thicker pair for days when we go over high passes. It is essential that these are both insulated and waterproof
- Summit day gloves – It is important to have an additional pair of very warm gloves that can be used on summit day. Mittens work well for this job and either synthetic or down insulation works equally well
- Neck warmer or buff – this probably gives better versatility as it can be used in conjunction with a beanie to give multiple options and Buff’s are also great to keep out dust or shade from the sun
- Sunhat – baseball style hats are not so good as they offer no ear protection from the sun. The best ones are the wide brimmed models you’ll see in camping shops
- 2 x 1L Water bottles – Nalgene brand are brilliant. You might also favour a hydration bladder but please bear in mind that these are prone to failure and the drink tube can freeze in freezing weather. We don’t use them on trips of this type and would prefer that you don’t either
- 3 season sleeping bag and compression storage sack – it can be quite cold in the refuge bedrooms but unless you are a very cold sleeper a 3 season sleeping bag will usually be warm enough
- Sleeping bag liner – adding a liner to your sleeping bag will keep it clean, increase the insulation slightly and, if you are too hot in your sleeping bag (unlikely but possible!), will allow you a lighter weight option
- Headtorch and spare batteries – LED models are preferred due to excellent battery life, no spare bulbs required and they are very light weight. Often the bedrooms don’t have electricity and so you will use your head torch a lot
- Small dry bags or stuff sacks – useful to help organise items in duffle bags
- Toilet paper – this won’t be provided in the refuge
- Glasses – consider bringing spares as well
- Contact lenses and solutions
- Sunglasses – good quality glasses rated to at least category 3 are vital
- Sunglasses hard case
- Goggles – important for protection in strong winds or wind driven snow
- Sun cream – Factor 50 or above. Several small tubes are better than a large one incase you lose one
- Lip salve with high SPF – lips are very prone to getting dry or cracked in the cold and dry conditions
- Toiletries – you can buy most things cheaply once in country so don’t feel you need to bring too much of each thing
- Towel – lightweight and compact pack towels are excellent
- Small personal 1st aid kit – we will have a comprehensive first aid kit but please bring along a small personal kit with plasters, blister patches (Compeed are great), paracetamol, throat lozenges (your throat can get very sore in the cold, dry and dusty conditions), re-hydration salts and some immodium
- Other personal medication – please bring plenty, and spares……and some more spares. It is also a good idea to split your medicines between your hold and hand luggage for the international flight. It will be extremely difficult to replace specific medicines in country
- Ziploc bags – It is amazing how many uses you will find for these
- Travel wash – a small bottle of multipurpose travel wash will help you keep your clothes clean
- Wet wipes – for a quick clean up when you can’t get to a water source! Conditions in the tea houses are very basic and access to cleaning facilities will be very limited at times
- Earplugs – tea houses can be noisy and the walls are thin. Earplugs might become your very best friend!
- Antibacterial hand gel – essential for preventing the spread of germs. Please bring plenty
- Penknife/multitool – you’ll be amazed how many little jobs you need them for
- Watch with alarm
- Trekking Poles – this is an optional choice, but poles can be really useful
- Camera– and don’t forget some spare memory cards and batteries
- Waterproof rucksack liner – or dry bags work well to use inside your rucksack
- Reading books, playing cards or games – you will have a lot of down time during the evenings and so please do come prepared to entertain yourselves for periods of time
- Small repair kit – containing sewing kit, duct tape and Seamgrip.
- Pen – you can never have enough pens when travelling
- Kitbag for portering (90litre) – the best way to get your equipment carried on the trek is to use a duffel style bag. They are simple, durable and relatively inexpensive. Please don’t bring bags with a solid structure or wheels as it is much harder for the porters to manage.
- Small padlock that fits kitbag zippers
- Battery power bank – there may be limited options to charge electrical items at the refuge but this can’t be guaranteed and the ease of accessing the sockets available depends on how busy the refuge is. Many or our team members bring a power bank to allow them to keep items charged up.
- Charging leads and adapters – remember that the plugs are different
- Feminine hygiene products – bring more than you think you might need
- Documentation and money – more information on what to take is included in our FAQ’s section
- Trail snacks – it is nice to have a selection of your favourite snacks. We suggest a couple of items per day
- Crampons – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need them as we won’t have spares in-country
- Ice Axe – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need them as we won’t have spares in-country
- Helmet – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need them as we won’t have spares in-country
- Climbing harness – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need them as we won’t have spares in-country
- Screwgate carabiner – we can provide this for you but please do let us know in advance if you need these as we won’t have spares in-country
Hopefully many of the items on this kit list will be general use outdoor items that you already own, but we also appreciate that there are some specialist items that you are both less likely to own and that cost a lot to purchase.
In particular, this might include a suitable sleeping bag, mountaineering boots and duvet. It is essential that participants don’t take short cuts with these items as they are essential for comfort, success and safety. Fortunately, there are companies that will hire out specialist equipment at a reasonable price and our preferred provider is Outdoor Kit Hire. They have an easy to navigate website, are great at giving advice, have good quality equipment available and their prices are reasonable.
Please do consider this option if you see this trip as a one off and you are unlikely to do something similar in the future. Of course, we hope you’ll be hooked and a lifetime of high altitude adventure awaits – in which case it may be worth purchasing some or all of the specialist items.