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Highest Peaks of Atlas Mountains 1

Highest Peaks of Atlas Mountains

Overview

This privately guided, demanding, but rewarding trek in Morocco takes in the challenges of summitting Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak (4167 m) and Rass Ouanoukrim, the second-highest one at 4089 m.

Experience the beauty of Berber villages and the valleys of the Atlas Mountains in the Toubkal region with varied and picturesque scenery, dramatic passes, non-technical peaks and the guarantee of a cheerful welcome from the Berber people. Spend the nights in comfortable riads, gites, mountain refuges and tent camps.

This is a privately guided walking holiday, you will not be part of a group, and in the mountains, you will be accompanied by a personal certified English-speaking guide, a cook and a muleteer as appropriate.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Marrakech

Arrive in Marrakech. A complimentary private transfer from airport to your hotel is included.

Day 2: Marrakech – Imi Oughlad (1450 m) – Tizi n’Tachte (2000 m) – Tiziane (1750 m) | 5-6 hrs

Early morning departure from Marrakech for a pleasant drive south winding our way up through the Moulay Brahim gorge and upper valleys to arrive at the higher foothills of the Western High Atlas mountains and the trailhead of Imi Oughlad (1450m) with the Jbel Toubkal, at 4167m the highest peak in North Africa, Aglzim 3650m and Aksoual 3847m looming before us. Here you meet up with your Berber muleteer crew. We set off up in north-westerly direction for a 2-hour acclimatisation hike up on mule tracks, passing by cornfields, woods, pine and juniper to the Tiz n’Tachte (2000m), where we shall stop to look back down on the Imlil and Ait Oussaden valleys before carrying on for another half hour to Imi n’Ifri and our field picnic. Then a slow hike for about 2.5 hours south-west down along a dirt track to Assif n’ Aait Oussaden and the red clay terraced village of Tiziane (1750 m) for accommodation in our bivouac/gite.

  • Accommodation: Lodge (gite) or tent camp
  • Meals: Full Board
  • Walking time: 5-6 hours

Day 3: Tizziane (1750 m) – Tizi n’Taghrhourte (1995 m) – D’knt (1870 m) | 5-6 hrs

After breakfast, we set off on our hike up along the Assif n’Ait Oussaden valley, passing through walnut groves, up to Tizi n’Taghrhourte (1995m) and ton an almost flat stretch to arrive at Assaka spring, where we will stop for our field picnic after some 2.5  hours of relatively easy walking. Our afternoon’s hike takes us down along the forest edges until we reach the Berber village of D’knt (1870m) or Agouns n’Assoul, where we will have our dinner and spend the night in a bivouac/gite.

  • Accommodation: Lodge (gite) or tent camp
  • Meals: Full Board
  • Walking time: 5-6 hours

Day 4: D’knt (1870 m) – Tizi n’Tagdalte – TIzi Oussem (1850 m) – Azib n’Tamsoult (2250 m) | 6-7 hrs

We set off for our morning’s 3-hour hike up through groves of walnut trees, fields of corn and barley to meet many sheep and goat herders. We traverse the Tizi n’Tagdalte for the descent amongst the juniper trees till we come to a small spring amongst the trees, where we will stop for our picnic. Once refreshed, we are off down the winding tracks for some 3 hours to come to a small river at the beginning of the valley of Assif n’Ait Oussaden. From here, we enter the village of Tizi Oussem (1850 m) then up to the summer village of Tamsoult.

  • Accommodation: Lodge (gite) or tent camp
  • Meals: Full Board
  • Walking time: 6-7 hours

Day 5: Tamsoult (2250 m) – Tizi Aguelzim (3550 m) – Refuge of Toubkal (3207 m) | 6 hrs

After breakfast, we now set out eastwards on a moderately demanding hike up the winding mule tracks to the Tizi Aguelzim (3550m), then a further 3 hours south-east to the Toubkal Refuge, which marks the snowline at 3207m, where we shall have our dinner, in the Refuge itself or a bivouac near the Refuge.

Day 6: Ouankrim and Rass Peak (4089 m) | 7 hrs

Climb the second highest peak in Morocco with stunning views on the Atlas and Sirwa valley at 3200m. Then walk back to the Refuge or camp for the overnight.

Day 7: Toubkal Refuge (3207m) to Mount Toubkal (4167m) | 9-10 hrs

Early in the morning, you will make your attempt on the summit of Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in Northern Africa. The route takes you up the south cirque, crossing the stream above the refuge and then heading across one of the numerous scree fields, where you 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 it difficult, however, the views along the way make the walk more than worthwhile.

Cresting the ridgeline, you will reach the plateau, from where it is a short walk to the summit, and the vistas are quite breathtaking. From the peak, 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.

Retracing your steps you then return down the mountain and head back towards Imlil, before your transfer back to Marrakech.

  • Accommodation: a riad in Marrakech (Riad Zanzibar or similar)
  • Meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Walking time: 9-10 hours

Day 8: Marrakech

Vibrant Marrakech is a fascinating city, home to numerous mosques, palaces and gardens. The medina is a densely packed, walled medieval city dating to the Berber Empire, with mazelike alleys where thriving souks (marketplaces) sell traditional textiles, pottery and jewellery. A symbol of the city, and visible for miles, is the Moorish minaret of the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque. If you prefer, you can also book an optional camel ride in the villages near Marrakech.

  • Accommodation: a riad in Marrakech (Riad Zanzibar or similar)
  • Meals: Breakfast

Day 9: Departure

Departure (complimentary airport transfer included) or extra nights in Marrakech.

  • Meals: Breakfast

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in quality hotels (riads) in Marrakech, guesthouses (gites), refuges or tent camps in the mountains. The Toubkal refuge Les Mouflons is located at 3,207 meters height. Its 600 m² area allows it to offer single and family rooms with separate showers, as well as seven dormitories. By default you will be accommodated in a dormitory there; we can optionally try to accommodate you in a private room with en-suite facilities, but this depends on availability and cannot be guaranteed. Optional upgrade of the Marrakech hotels is also possible.

Click to view sample hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide to you exact accommodation details upon booking confirmation.

Meals

All breakfasts are included, as well as all lunches and dinners in the mountains (picnic lunches are included when out on walks). This is a privately guided walking holiday – during your mountain walks, you will be accompanied by a local guide, a cook and a muleteer.

Difficulty & terrain

This trip requires excellent physical condition and some trekking experience. No mountaineering or climbing experience required. There are some longer (strenuous) walks, especially the climb to Mt Toubkal, which is non-technical but demanding. The terrain varies, and the trails are often exposed to the sun. In the mountains, the route follows ancient Berber tracks, which can be high, steep, narrow, uneven and rough underfoot (read more about difficulty grades). Parts of the walks are above the snow line. We will provide crampons if needed, which might be the case if doing the trip in winter months.

Due to the lack of signposted trails, you will be supported by a local qualified mountain guide. This is a very remote area. You should be in very good shape and have a good level of walking fitness to get the most from this walk.

When to go

This trip is available to start on any date between 6th of January and 20th of December. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

July is the hottest month in the Atlas Mountains with an average temperature of 29°C (84°F) and the coldest is January at 13°C (55°F) with the most daily sunshine hours at 11 in July. Some walks are above the snow line year-round.

Please note that during Ramadan and Eid Al Adha’s festival times, many restaurants and shops will be closed, which may affect your trip experience. Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr (Festival of Sacrifice of Sheep) change yearly. Ramadan 2021: 13th April to 12th May. Eid al-Adha 2021: 19th July to 23rd July.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK).

  • Private transfer from the airport to your hotel on Day 1 and from the hotel to the airport on Day 9 is included. Please note that only one airport transfer is included, though we can arrange additional transfers. Therefore, it is advisable that all party members arrive on the same flight or at least at a similar time. Extra charges may be applicable on private transfers in case of late-night arrivals.

Inclusions

Included

  • 2 nights in a comfortable 3-star grade riad in Marrakech
  • 6 nights in basic riads, mountain refuges (dormitory rooms) or tent camps in the mountains
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 7 dinners
  • 6 lunches (some of which are packed lunches)
  • One airport transfer on arrival and one airport transfer on departure
  • Bag transfers of one bag of up to 20 kg per person between accommodations (no hard-side suitcases please)
  • Services of a qualified English-speaking mountain guide, a muleteer and a cook as appropriate in the mountains
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare
  • Meals not listed in itinerary
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room. Please note that in mountain refuges single room accommodation cannot be guaranteed.
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as costs are not shared.
  • Optional “In Style” hotel upgrade: if you prefer to stay on your nights in Marrakech in a luxury 4-star hotel (riad) e.g. Charme d’Orient (or similar), you can add this option when completing the online booking form
  • One or two extra nights in Marrakech before or after the holiday (standard accommodation)
  • One or two extra nights in Marrakech before or after the holiday (luxury accommodation)
  • You can also book one of our guided day tour extensions  – listed below – for these extra days in Marrakech, or just relax and stroll the streets of Marrakech.

Click here to view Ourika Valley full day guided tour

Ourika Valley, due to its many waterfalls and several attractions, is a very popular day trip from Marrakech. This valley is the sole location within the High Atlas Range where the endangered primate Barbary macaque, Macaca sylvanus is known to occur; this primate is found in the Middle Atlas and a few disjunctive populations in Algeria and Gibraltar. The region is inhabited by Berber people who practice a traditional way of life. You can picnic in the oasis or hike up to the famous seven waterfalls. It is an easy hike, accompanied by an official guide, and it can take between 1 and 3 hours.

Note: Overnight accommodation not included, please choose an extra night in Marrakech extension when booking.

Click here to view Fishing port of Essaouira full day guided tour

Your day trip to Essaouira from Marrakech will begin with a drive along the Haouz planes to Chichaoua village where you will stop for a cup of coffee before you continue to Sidi Mokhtar. On your way, you will cross the Argan trees forest, where you might spot some goats climbing the trees. To watch how the Argan oil (also called the liquid gold, or Moroccan oil) is extracted, you can visit a local ladies’ cooperative and learn how some fine cosmetic products are locally made out of the rich Argan oil. From here, we will carry on to Essaouira. Upon arrival, you can explore the beautiful city at leisure:

  • Visit the fishing port of Essaouira and watch the local fishermen returning inland with their catch
  •  See Skala Kasbah, which was a citadel in the times of war
  •  Visit some of the beautiful Essaouira art galleries scattered in the Medina
  •  Stroll in the Medina of Essaouira, which can be explored easily as the streets are aligned opposite to every other Medina streets in Morocco, which look like a maze.
  •  Shop at leisure for some local souvenirs
  •  Have a seafood lunch in the harbour stalls or at a local café terrace
  •  Walk down the beach and watch local boys playing football
  •  Sunbathe at the 6 km long sandy beach

Note: Overnight accommodation not included, please choose an “Extra night in Marrakech” extension when booking the guided tours (or book a hotel on your own).

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Reviews

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Rating

     

Sarah W

I had a great time. However, my main thing is that it needs to be more clearly stressed how cold it potentially may be [in January], the extreme gear needed (eg big boots), and the need for flexibility in schedule to accommodate local conditions (eg change route bc of snow/ice). Holiday overall - 5. They took care of EVERYTHING and were ready to make it 100% customized to my interests + food. Thanks again!