Climbing Toubkal. Trek to the highest North African peak

Toubkal mountain

Toubkal is a mountain peak in southwestern Morocco, located in the Toubkal National Park. At 4,167 metres, it is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains and North Africa.
It is a non-technical summit requiring only a reasonable degree of fitness and determination. People can easily reach Toubkal (often called Jbel Toubkal) from Marrakech and lays at the heart of a network of trekking trails through the Atlas mountains. During the trek, we found striking high altitude mountain scenery, lush valleys and relatively untouched Berber communities.

Preparing for the trek

We reserved a 3 days trip package online with Climbing Toubkal agency. The agency took care of our return trip from Marrakesh to Imlil as well. You can find our itinerary and the company here. It was our first trekking experience on another continent and at such high altitude and we wanted to make sure everything goes smoothly. I have to thank our guide Brahim for his professional guidance and making sure we are happy. We also had a cook/muleteer who cooked wonderful meals for us when we had breaks and carried our heavy luggage. Our 3 days trip package included bottled water and coffee at discretion. Keep in mind that even the water from mountain springs can be dangerous for non locals!

More experienced hikers can do the trek without a guide as it does not require very much experience. However, most of the hikers prefer to hire a guide for the trip because the track isn’t marked. The advantage in hiring a guide is that he knows the trails, can help with maintaining the rhythm, accommodation, transporting food and luggage and other issues. In terms of technical difficulty, we did not have any issues, it wasn’t a lot more difficult than the many ~2500m summits we visited before.

Our experience

We had a two day trek from Imlil to the peak and one day back because we wanted to enjoy more of the Atlas Mountains and we never go on the same path. Life is too short to beat the same path twice. More experienced trekkers can do it in two days (one day to the highest refuge Toubkhal Refuge 3200m, one day to the summit and back down to Imlil) if they are in a hurry.

Imlil Valley vue

Imlil Valley view with berber village

The refuges

We stayed in two moroccan refuges: refuge Azib Tamsoult(2250m) and refuge Toubkal (3200m) and they were both a nice experience. Refuges in the Atlas Mountains seem to have toilets and warm showers. You have to pay for the shower and accommodation  if you don’t have an all inclusive package.

Even if you sleep in a refuge, we must recommend a sleeping bag which will be useful in any refuge. However, all refuges offer heating so there’s not much to worry about.

Regarding mountain equipment, you can read our tips here. Also keep in mind that anything you forget at home can be rented from Imlil. For example, in order to make our descent easier we rented crampoons for 10 EUR per day.

Refuge Azib Tamsoult(2250m)

Refuge Azib Tamsoult(2250m)

Costs and overall experience

Our 3 day trip costed 200 EUR per person and included: meals, bottled water and coffee, the muleteer, the guide for 3 days, 2 nights accommodation at refuges and taxi from Marrakesh to Imlil. Most other people went with guides, we met them every day in the same places like us. Bigger groups can get a cheaper price per person, just check out the website.

Lunch at 2000m

Lunch at 2000m

You might manage to set for a better price if you want to organise the trip yourself. However, this assumes transporting all equipment to Morocco or renting it from there, figuring out how to get a place in each refuge and paying for accommodation and you might get to an even higher price. Here are some informative prices: hiring a guide costs 300 dirhams (about 30 EUR) per day, the muleteer costs 200 dirhams (about 20 EUR) per day, accommodation can be 150-200 dirhams (about 15-20 EUR) per day. You can bargain even for these services. Pay attention to ask the muleteer if he will cook for you as well because this is not a default. A warm meal is really precious after a hike. However, there are meals cooked for all groups at the refuges every evening and you can probably buy from there.

Photos of our trek:

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