Morocco is one of our signature destinations and we’ve been privileged to visit this special place over many years. Even better, this has to be the best Toubkal itinerary in the industry.
Jebel Toubkal is a fantastic peak with all the ingredients for a great adventure. At 4167 metres it is the highest in North Africa and it has an interesting ascent line and fantastic summit views. Even better, it is an ideal mountain for every experience level – those new to mountaineering will love it and those with some mountaineering history still love it.
But this trip is very much more than just a mountain ascent. Firstly, Toubkal is situated in the magical North African country of Morocco. A land of welcoming locals, rich culture, lovely food and with many fascinating sights to explore. Morocco also has the further bonus of being very accessible for a short haul expedition from the UK. Having said that, don’t let that closeness fool you – once you experience the uniqueness of Morocco you’ll know you are somewhere very different.
The other key feature that sets this trip apart from the norm is the itinerary. Our objective is an ascent of a mountain, but this expedition is as much as anything about the journey. We take a far less travelled journey around the Toubkal range and camp along the way. It is a unique way to travel and allows us to stay in less popular locations, to dip into the lives of the locals by trekking through peaceful villages and to see the range from all sides. This is a very special trip.
In line with our general expedition ethos we like to take a far less trodden route – our Jebel Toubkal is not just the straight up and straight down itinerary you will see many providers offering. By skirting around the back of the Toubkal range we enjoy a superb circular route that has received amazing feedback from all of our past clients. You don’t cover the same ground twice, meet locals in the small villages along the way, camp alongside babbling rivers and trek deep canyons – for just a week away this will feel like the adventure of a lifetime.
Day 1 – Flight to Marrakech and transfer to Imlil. We meet up at the airport and transfer to our cosy mountain lodge in the Atlas Mountains access village of Imlil. After a long journey we can enjoy a good nights sleep ready for the start of our adventure in the morning.
Day 2 – Trek from Imlil to Tacheddirt. A fairly leisurely first trekking day. After breakfast we will meet our mule team and once all our gear is loaded we begin walking along the valley towards Tacheddirt, some 8 km from Imlil. The trail rises up to the pass at Tizi ‘n Tamatert and from there we descend to the pretty village of Ouaneskra and continue to Tacheddirt where we set up camp near the river.
Day 3 – Trek from Tacheddirt to Azib Likemt. Our day starts with a long steady ascentto the pass of Tizi Likemt at 3555m. From the top we enjoy our first fine view of the Toubkal Massif before a long descent to the village of Azib Likemt where we set up our camp for the night by the side of the tranquil river.
Day 4 – Trek from Azib Likemt to Amsouzert. This is a spectacular day with many contrasting landscapes and even the promise of a hot shower at the end! We start with a stunning ascent through narrow gorges and riverside pasture land to reach the 3120 metre col of Tizi ‘n Ououraine. From here we enjoy further views of the Toubkal Massif and it is a truly unforgettable location. The trail then leads downwards towards Amsouzert, one of the most striking villages in the region and our home for the night. We spend this night in a local village Gite which offers simple but functional accommodation and a chance to shower, charge batteries and wash clothes.
Day 5 – Trek from Amsouzert to Lac D’Ifni. West of Amsouzert are several small villages, which we explore as we make our way towards Ifni Lake, the only lake in the Massif. It is a truly memorable sight, surrounded by rocky mountains and giant heaps of rubble, and unusually deep. This is a short day and we can usually arrive by lunchtime which allows us to spend the afternoon relaxing at the shore.
Day 6 – Trek from Lac D’Ifni to Toubkal Refuge. We start our day by making a long steep ascent to reach the spectacular high pass at Tizi n’Ouanoums (3664m), a narrow ledge between two shafts of rock. From here it is a long zigzag descent to the Toubkal Refuge where we spend the night in tents.
Day 7 – Ascent to Toubkal Summit and return to Imlil. A long but exciting day. We leave before dawn and ascend to the airy 4167 metre summit of Jebel Toubkal where we can enjoy beautiful views of the entire Atlas range and the even glance towards the distant plains of the Sahara Desert. Returning to base, we then descend fairly rapidly to the villages of Sidi Chamharouch and Around, before following the Mizane River, along a well-forested trail, to the trailhead at Imlil. From there we meet our transport and transfer back to Marrakech for a celebration meal and our last night in a luxurious Riad in the heart of the city.
Day 8 – Time in Marrakech and return to UK. Depending on departure times, we can enjoy a free day to explore the vibrant city of Marrakech before transporting to the airport for departure back to the UK.
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.
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 hotel in Imlil so it is worth bringing a spare lockable bag for this.
- 35 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
- Walking boots – It is essential to have comfortable, supportive and 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 2 to 3 season boot is ideal
- 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 tea houses. Approach shoe type shoes work really well and sometimes people like to also wear these for trekking
- Waterproof jacket – a lightweight and breathable jacket. Fabrics such as Goretex or Event work well
- Waterproof trousers – again, please make sure they are lightweight and breathable and much easier if they have side zips to allow you to pull them on over trekking boots
- Insulated jacket – a very warm 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 -5 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 trousers x 2 pairs – ideal to have a thicker and a more lightweight pair. You might like to consider some of the trousers that allow you to zip the legs off to turn them into shorts
- Underwear – You may be able to wash them along the way so you don’t need too many sets. We suggest 4 will be enough
- Shorts – these should be loose fitting and not too short. Please also see the note about zip off trekking trousers above
- 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. Look for models by Smartwool, Darn Tough or Bridgedale
- 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
- 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 waterproof compression storage sack – it can be cold at night and so a warm sleeping bag will really help ensure you get a good nights sleep. Down is hard to beat for performance
- 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. On several days we will set off in the dark
- Small dry bags or stuff sacks – useful to help organise items in duffle bags
- Toilet paper – this won’t be provided in tea houses but can easily be sourced in Kathmandu
- 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
- 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 and internal flights. 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 – Campsites can be noisy and the walls of a tent are very 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 muleteers to manage.
- Small padlock that fits kitbag zippers
- Solar panel or battery power bank – we will spend one night mid trek in a small rural gite and it is usually possible to charge small electric items here (please note that electricity supplies can be temperamental and so we can’t guarantee this is possible). Bringing a portable power bank can be useful for the in between times and you can often also charge things by hanging a solar panel off your rucksack as you trek
- 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 tucked away in your bag