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Toubkal

(4-day Ascent)

  • Where?

    Morocco

  • Altitude

    4,167m

  • Duration

    4 days

  • Weather

  • Physical

    P2

  • Technical

    T2

  • P2 - Prolonged walking over varied terrain. There may be uphills and downhills, so a good solid fitness is required. Expect to be able to do a 6 to 8 hour walk over undulating terrain with a few punchy uphill climbs carrying a pack up to 6kg in weight.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

  • T2 - Consider this a trek, although there may be occasion to use hands for short sections of easy scrambling. No previous climbing or trekking experience is necessary.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

  • Overview

  • Date & Prices

  • Pics & Vids

  • Itinerary

  • Kit List

  • FAQ's

Overview

Marrakech to Jebel Toubkal is a true north African adventure in 4 unforgettable days.  At 4,167m, Jebel Toubkal is the highest of the Atlas Mountains. It might be on our doorstep but it offers an experience and trekking challenge totally different from the mountains we’ve come to know and love in Europe.

Our diverse itinerary gives you the best chance of summitting an iconic 4,000m mountain while offering a taste of the wonderful Morrocan country and culture in a short timescale. We start our journey in Marrakech, Morocco’s fascinating, frenetic other-worldly capital before transferring to the foothills of the Atlas. Arriving in the village of Imlil we meet our mule team and begin our slow meandering climb up to the high refuge that is our mountain home. We pass through ancient villages, dominated by an enormous Kasbah, and meet hospitable Berbers who treat us to refreshing drinks and show us beautiful crystals found in the mountain. We stop often to marvel as the high mountain scenery opens up around us.

En route to the summit our trail winds its way through rocky paths and occasional snow (summer winter depending) to reach the peak where the Atlas range opens up before us. The silence is remarkable, the High Atlas utterly unforgettable.

Find out more
Toubkal, (4-day Ascent) Toubkal, (4-day Ascent)

Date & Prices

Departure & Return

Duration

Price (excl. flight)

Price (incl. flight)

Start: 07 March 2019
End: 10 March 2019

Price without flights:  £580

07 March 2019

10 March 2019

4 days

£580

N/A

Start: 24 May 2019
End: 27 May 2019

Price without flights:  £580

24 May 2019

27 May 2019

4 days

£580

N/A

Included

  • Local guides
  • Hotel / refuge accommodation based on two people sharing
  • Group climbing and cooking gear
  • Scheduled restaurant meals
  • Porters
  • Internal transfers
  • All food whilst on trek and breakfast when city based

Not Included

  • Flights
  • Personal equipment
  • Staff/guide gratuities
  • Trip Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature: phone calls, laundry, room service and so forth
  • Unscheduled hotels, meals and alcohol
  • Visas where applicable
  • Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early including any airline surcharges as a result of changing return airline tickets

Pics & Vids

Itinerary

DAY 1 : UK- Marrakech- Imlil

Today we will fly from the UK to Marrakech. Upon arrival, we will meet with our guide and then drive to Imlil.

(D)

(Transfer time to Imlil: 1 hour 30 minutes)

DAY 2 : Imlil –Armed village- Toubkal refuge

After a hearty breakfast, we begin our trek leaving the village of Imlil.  We pass through walnut and cherry orchids making our way up the Mizane valley, passing through the village of Aremd. We continue east, crossing the flood plains where our route takes us along mule tracks and up into the high rocky cliffs above the valley.  We eventually come to the pastoral shrine of Sidi Chamarouch, which attracts tourists and pilgrims.

From here the trail continues to climb steadily, snaking and zigzagging its way up to the snow line and the Toubkal Refuge (3,206m).

(BLD)

(Trekking time approximately 6 hours)

 

DAY 3 : Refuge Toubkal - Toubkal summit - Imlil Refuge

Early in the morning, we make our attempt on the summit of Jebel Toubkal (4,167m), the highest peak in Northern Africa.

Our route takes us up the south cirque, crossing the stream above the refuge. The walking is relatively straightforward, but the scree and the altitude will make the going quite difficult in parts. The views along the way make the climb more than worthwhile. When we reach the summit 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.

We will retrace our steps as we return down the mountain and head back towards Imlil for late afternoon.

(BLD)

(Trekking time approximately 10 hours)

 

DAY 4 : Imlil- Marrakech-UK

After a relaxing breakfast, it’s a short drive back to Marrakech.

Time permitting, we can explore Marrakech, before transferring to the airport for our flight home.

(B)

(Transfer time to Marrakech: 1 hour 30 minutes)

These are subject to minor changes depending on flight arrival and departure times, weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the trek and what you will experience.

Kit List

Bags & Packs

Kit bag

A 80-120L duffel bag to transport kit. A duffel bag is a strong, soft, weather resistant bag without wheels but with functional straps for carrying. Suitcases and wheeled bags are not suitable

Daysack

Approx. 30L capacity. Your day to day pack that you carry with your daily essentials, fitted with shoulder straps and importantly a waist belt

Waterproof rucksack cover

To protect rucksack from rain

Dry stuffsacks

Nylon rolltop bags (or even just large plastic bags) that keep fresh clothing and other important items like passports and iPods dry in the event of a total downpour that seeps into your kitbag. Good for quarantining old socks

Small kit bag or light bag

This is for any kit you intend to leave at the hotel and could even simply be a heavy duty plastic bag

Padlocks

For use on your kit bag for travel and on the expedition plus your hotel bag

Sleeping Gear

3 Season sleeping bag

You should get a sleeping bag rated to -5C and choose a sleeping bag that functions within the comfort rating of this temperature. A silk sleeping bag liner will enhance this rating on the coldest nights

Sleeping bag liner

Silk is best for keeping the bag clean and you a little warmer

Headwear

Warm headgear

This can be a warm hat, beanie, balaclava, anything to reduce the heat loss from your head

Wide brimmed hat

Keeps the sun off exposed areas like ears and the nape of the neck

Buff/Scarf

Essential for protection from the sun and dust

Sunglasses

Worth spending money on good UV filters.  Julbo is our preferred supplier

Sunblock

Buy the highest SPF you can find as UV intensifies with altitude

Lip salve

Sun cream will not work on your lips and they are very susceptible to burn without proper protection

Upper Body

Base layer

This is the layer closest to the skin and its principal function is to draw (wick) moisture and sweat away from the skin. You can also get thermal base layers for use at higher altitudes that provide an additional insulative layer while still drawing sweat during times of high exertion

Quantity: 2

Mid layer

These are typically lightweight microfleeces or similar technology that provide varying degrees of warmth and insulation without being overly bulky or heavy to pack

Gilet (optional)

Optional – A great low volume additional layer to keep your core warm, whether down, primaloft or fleece

Light insulated jacket

A lighter jacket such as a Primaloft or lightweight down which can be worn at lower to mid altitudes is a great addition to your kit offering greater flexibility with layering

Soft Shell

These should be windproof (not all are) and insulative. They are mostly made of soft polyester and sometimes resemble a neoprene finish which makes them very mobile and comfortable to wear. While offering a degree of weather repellence, they are not waterproof

Hard Shell

These jackets are thin, highly waterproof and windproof and worn over all other items of clothing. You’ll find these made of Gore-Tex or other proprietary waterproof yet breathable technology. Inexpensive hard shells that aren’t breathable will prevent evaporation, making you sweat intensely and are not recommended

Down jacket

Optional, these provide the best insulation, especially sitting in the refuge and can be worth every penny if you feel the cold. Ask advice in the shop (or from us) when buying the jacket and mention you want it rated to -10C and the assistant will recommend the correct fill for you

Warm gloves

Consider liners or a light polartec pair for lower altitudes and evenings, and a thicker waterproof pair like ski gloves for higher altitudes

Lower Body

Trekking trousers

These tend to be polyester so they dry quickly after a shower and weigh little in your pack. Consider perhaps a pair with detachable lower legs as an alternative to shorts

Softshell trousers

Windproof or thermal lined trekking trousers for higher altitudes and the summit phase. Thermal leggings can still be worn underneath if necessary

Long Johns

Thermal insulation for the lower body

Waterproof trousers

Like the jacket, an essential piece of kit to stay dry and should also be Goretex

Underwear

Merino or wicking material, not cotton. How many pairs you take is entirely up to you

Feet

Walking boots

Well worn in 4 season waterproof boots with mid to high ankle support

Trainers

For evening use in the refuges

Trekking socks

Start with lighter socks lower down, working up to thicker pairs for higher up as it gets colder. Some people like a clean pair every day, others are happy to change every other day – that’s a personal choice

Quantity: 3

Gaiters

To keep snow and scree out of your boots, if your trousers do not have in-built gaiters

Spare laces

Just in case

Hydration

Water bottles/bladder

3L equivalent – Camelbaks are useful at lower altitudes but have a tendency to freeze up at higher altitudes without insulation tubes, Nalgene bottles are better at altitude. We suggest a combination of a 2L bladder and 1L bottle or 2 x ½L bottles to put in your jacket for summit night

Water purification

Purification tablets are better than any other system.  Highly unlikely to be needed.  Always good to have in your bag

Toiletries

Wash kit

Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!

Personal first aid kit

Blister patches, plasters, antiseptic, painkillers; (see FAQ’s)

Personal medication

Keep this in your daypack

Travel towel

Travel towels from the likes of Lifesystems are perfect

Wet wipes

These are great for washing when shower facilities become a thing of the past

Alcohol gel

A must have for good camp hygiene

Insect repellent

For early stages and once back down

Toilet paper

Provided on the mountain but a spare in your daysack may be useful if you need to hide behind a rock between refuges

Nappy sacks or dog poo bags

Only needed to bag your toilet paper if you are caught short in between refuges and for keeping your rubbish tidy

Misceallaneous

Trekking poles

These tend to be a personal preference but help with your stability and can dampen the pressure on the knees coming down hill

Ear plugs

For protection against the inevitable snorers!

Head torch

Bring spare batteries

Camera

Bring spare batteries and memory cards

Penknife (optional)

Snacks

1 to 2 snack bars per day: you will be fed very well and given snacks each day however we advise bringing a small selection as a little bit of comfort. Extra snacks can be bought en-route if needed. Energy gels and protein bars are not suitable

Entertainment

iPod, book, Kindle etc.

Documentation

Passport

Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity.  With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.

Money

We recommend you take at around £150 – £200 in Dirhams onto the mountain in small denominations. This will allow for tip money (£60 – £80) plus any extras like drinks, beers or snacks in the refuges. Small denominations are recommended as it may be difficult to obtain change and it will be easier to divide tip money

Travel insurance

Copy of own travel insurance details.  And relevant contact numbers.

We have a partnership with True Traveller and would recommend that you contact them when looking for travel insurance for your trip with 360. However, it is vital that you ensure that the insurance cover they offer is suitable for you, taking your personal circumstances (items to be insured, cancellation cover, medical history) into account. Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip.  To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.

FAQ's

Food and Water

What is the food like on the mountain?

The meals on the mountain will be simple yet fresh, nutritious and reasonably varied. We try to ensure that dietary preferences are met and that local ingredients are used. Breakfast is typically bread and jam, porridge or muesli, with plenty of tea and coffee.

Lunches can consist of cold vegetable salads, usually with a hot dish to go with it, from soup to pasta. Evenings will tend to be vegetable or meat tagines, couscous or pasta. The underlying aim is to provide balanced, nutritional meals packed with carbohydrates to refuel hungry bodies and to replenish stores for the next day of activity.

Do bring along any of your favourite snacks and goodie bags from home if you want. Concentrate on high energy food-stuffs to give you that little boost on an arduous day.

Where does the drinking water come from?

Initially water will be bottled, but higher up we will source water from local streams. It is advisable that everyone should carry water purification such as iodine, silver chloride or chlorine. When at the refuge the water will normally be purified by boiling.

I have food allergies, can these be catered for?

Absolutely, please inform the office of any allergies or intolerances and we will ensure that these are taken into account on the trek.

Accommodation

What kind of accommodation is there on the trek?

Once in the Atlas we stay in mountain refuges. These are reasonably big buildings with shared living rooms, normally heated with a fire or stove, large dormitories to sleep in, and shared washing facilities. Ear plugs are worthwhile for light sleepers. They normally have blankets available if you get cold. They are clean but basic.

Our first night in Imlil we plan to stay in a well-located, charming hotel – Hotel les Etoiles du Toubkal, where you will be assigned to share with a room-buddy unless traveling with friends or a partner.  Single supplements are available at additional cost.

Our final night we will treat you to a charming Riad in celebration of your expedition.

Health and Safety

What happens if there is a problem on the mountain?

Accidents can happen and anyone undertaking these adventures has to accept there is a degree of risk due to the very nature of the challenge. Our mountain crew are all experienced in dealing with problems that may arise. Our guides are highly experienced in the field. They all have wilderness first aid skills and can handle emergencies to the highest level of competency. For minor ailments, they carry basic first aid kits. They are also equipped with satellite phones if they need to engage our pre-planned emergency evacuation procedures.

What medical advice can you give?

We advise all to check with your GP surgery or a travel clinic on latest advice about vaccinations and to ensure you are upto-date.

We require you to take out adequate travel and medical insurance before you set out.

You will need to bring your specific medication that you take for any medical condition that you have, and pack this in your daysack. Please remember to pack plenty of spare medication in case you lose them or they get lost in transport. It is also worth taking a simple first aid kit such as simple painkillers, Compeed or similar for blisters, plasters, antihistamines and perhaps insect repellent.

Other medications which can be useful are Ciprofloxacin antibiotics and Loperamide which helps to ease diarrhoea. Altitude specific drugs such as Acetazolamide (Diamox) may also be useful. If you are unable to get hold of any of these then please don’t worry, as your Expedition Leader will have these in the trek first aid kit.

Kit

What clothing should I wear on this trek?

We advocate the beg, steal and borrow principle for first timers instead of buying brand new stuff you’ll never use again. The cost of equipment is usually a major deterrent for people coming onto trips in the first place. If you think you’ll re-use your gear, then it’s worth starting to invest in good gear. The old adage often applies – you get what you pay for.

Think about the time of year, and how high you are going. While you will be comfortable at the bottom of the mountains where it will be warm rather than hot. It can get surprisingly cold out of the sun at altitude and at the refuges in the evenings, and particularly on the summit, dropping well below freezing.

Both long sleeve tops and trekking trousers are recommended rather than shorts. Long sleeves and trousers are a deterrent to insects, scratches from bushes and to act as sun protection. The prevailing conditions of the day on the mountain will dictate what you feel like wearing. And the layering system never fails. If you’re cold, put a layer on, if you’re hot, take one off.

We’re in the desert do I really need water/windproof tops?

As much as we’d like to guarantee eternal sunshine, we can’t fix the weather for you. You should bring a hardshell waterproof jacket and overtrousers and they should be accessible. It is quite possible to be caught out in an afternoon rainstorm low down on the mountain or snow higher up. Once you get wet and your core temperature drops slightly, it becomes very hard to warm up and dry out your clothing. Waterproofs should be breathable Goretex material or similar to save you drowning in your own sweat. Additionally they can be used as an invaluable wind shield to protect you against the effect of wind-chill when a strong wind blows.

What is the best type of footwear to use?

Because of the huge variety of terrain encountered when ascending these mountains it is very important to wear the right footwear. Boots should be sturdy, waterproof, insulated against cold temperatures and offer adequate ankle support. In addition it is highly recommended that your boots are well worn in to prevent the formation of blisters. A wide range of suitable boots are on the market and further advice as to which brand names are available can be found online or at your local outdoor store. The leather / synthetic combinations are endless and each with their merits. Our best advice is to try them on, walk up the ramps in the shop to check their grip – if you think they’re comfortable, and will be for several hours a day, buy them. Make sure you practice your training walks in your boots well in advance of your trip to ensure your boots are well broken in and not causing any problems.

What advice would you give on duffel bags and daysacks?

Fortunately mules will be the taking the strain for this trip, but be nice to them! Pack no more than you would want to carry yourself: 15kg is the limit and should be more than sufficient on such a comparatively short trip. Any extra weight such as spare clothes etc can be left at the riad before you head for the trek. The muleteers will not look favourably on overweight packs.

Duffel bags are ideal for this sort of trip. Whatever bag you go for, make sure it is robust and has a large capacity. As one goes higher in altitude it becomes harder to pack the bag and some people struggle closing their bags due to bulky sleeping bags and other pieces of kit. It will be far better having a large capacity bag with extra room (after all air doesn’t weigh much) than having a bag too small and finding problems packing your kit. Even having a 100 litre plus duffel bag is not too large.

You should bring a daysack with you of approximately 30 litres for personal gear which you will carry yourself. Each day you should only be carrying the following: waterproofs, warm top, warm hat, gloves, 2 litres of water, snacks, camera, sunscreen, lipsalve, headtorch, minimal first aid kit.

Anything else is considered more of a luxury than a necessity. It is importance to go as light as possible as weight makes a huge difference at altitude.

Do we need to take our own sleeping bags?

Yes you will need to bring a warm sleeping bag. This should be rated within a Comfort Rating of -5 centigrade. At the refuge it is not unusual to experience surprisingly chilly nights and a good night’s sleep is important. Ensure you have a sleeping bag that has this Comfort Rating rather than the Extreme Rating. Sleeping bags can be enhanced by using an inner fleece or silk liner or by wearing additional clothing to bed. The idea is to be as comfortable and warm as possible in the night to help to ensure a good night’s rest for the challenge ahead.

Are down jackets necessary?

Most people get away without a down jacket climbing Toubkal in the summer. A layer system comprising of several layer of base layers, fleeces, and jackets will suffice on the climb. However if you do feel the cold, you may appreciate a light down jacket in the refuge in the evening and for summit night.

Is it possible to rent equipment before I go?

It is also possible to hire clothing and equipment before you leave from our partners Outdoor Hire (www.outdoorhire.co.uk) where 360 Expeditions has a kit list set up and you can pick and choose hire items from this. We recommend that you buy your own boots which are worn in prior to the trek.

The Weather

What will the weather be like?

Short and heavy rain is not unusual in the mountains during the afternoon as moist Atlantic air is forced up beyond its dew point by the mountain range, but they don’t normally last long. Often we’re in luck and a big area of high pressure can come in giving us clear crisp days, with starry and quite chilly nights as temperatures drop below freezing. Back in Marrakech, temperatures will be very comfortable, akin to a fair summer’s day in the UK, with minimal risk of showers. Our kit list reflects these eventualities.

Travel

Do I need to book my own flights to Morocco?

Yes you will. Due to the wide variety of flights to Morocco from various departure points around the UK that may be closer to you than London, which in turn vary greatly in price, we suggest that you book your own flights. If this is a problem we will be more than happy to assist and add flight costs (with a small administration fee) to you final invoice.

Insurance

Do I need special travel insurance for the trek?

You must carry individual travel insurance to take part in the expedition. We cannot take you on the mountain without proof of insurance.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip.  To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.

Your insurance details are requested on the booking form, however this can be arranged at a later date. 360 Expeditions will be requesting your insurance details 8 weeks before your departure.

Entry Into Country

Do I need a visa?

UK citizens do not need a visa to enter Morocco.

Training

Do I need to train for this trip?

Being trekking fit prior to coming to the mountain is of great importance not only to maximise your chances of reaching the summits but much more importantly to enhance your overall enjoyment of the expedition: if you are struggling from day one then you will not enjoy the rest of the trip.

Physical preparation does not have to be Herculean: concentrate on cardio vascular exercise during the week by taking short runs when time allows and try to spend at least 2 weekends a month going on good long walks (longer than 6 hrs) carrying a rucksack of around 6-8kg, and head for the hills. This kind of regime will not only prepare your body for carrying these loads but will harden your body against the big days on the mountain itself. In addition it will help break in your boots and get used to your equipment. In combination this will pay dividends when you reach the mountains.

Finance

What currency should I have?

Morocco uses the Dhiram.  Guichets automatiques (ATMs) are now a common sight across Morocco and many accept Visa, MasterCard, Electron, Cirrus and Maestro. Major credit cards are widely accepted in the main tourist centres, although their use often attracts a surcharge of around 5% from Moroccan businesses.

Tipping and bargaining are integral parts of Moroccan life. Practically any service can warrant a tip, and a few dirham for a service willingly rendered can make life a lot easier. Tipping between 5% and 10% of a restaurant bill is appropriate. A supply of small coins is vital for random tips. It is a good idea to load up at a bank when you arrive so you are well prepared.

How much should we tip?

Our local crew work extremely hard to ensure that your expedition runs well. Although tipping is not compulsory, it is customary. As a general rule we suggest around £60 – £80 per person to be shared amongst the local crew. Tipping our 360 Leader is left up to the group but is always a nice gesture and much appreciated.

Electronics

Is there mobile phone reception on the mountains or in the Sahara?

Your 360 leaders will have a satellite phone. Yes, you can use it if you really need to make a call, it’s £3 per minute. Mobiles will work sporadically. But with both of these, there is limited charging availability, we will use the satellite phone very sparingly, bear that in mind with your mobile.

Do we need a travel adaptor?

Yes. It’s a standard European adapter (normally round two pin) which you can buy anywhere in the UK and at the airport if you’ve left it to the last minute.

General

Will my valuables be safe?

While we will do everything we can to provide adequate safety for the group and security for your possessions, the general rule is that if you don’t need it, don’t bring it. This includes jewellery, necklaces, rings and even watches. Your passport and money should be kept on you at all times. As with travel in any foreign country, you need to look after yourself and your possessions, and this is no different.

I really couldn’t have had a better trip and I couldn’t fault it in any way. Both Mohamed and Dominic where absolutely amazing. They were really supportive and couldn’t have been better guides. I loved the opportunity to learn something new.

James Franklin, Toubkal (Summer Ascent), 2012
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