Morocco trekking tour, High Atlas traverse

“Trek at high altitude in the High Atlas Mountains and summit Mount Toubkal at over 13,000 feet before heading back to Marrakech via Berber villages and winding cut back trails.”

Highlights

Marrakech | High Atlas Mountains | Tizi n'Tichka mountain pass | Zat Valley | Jebel Yagour Mountain | Yagour Plateau | Berber heartlands | Ourika Valley | Kissaria Gorge | Taghbaloute Pass | summit Mount Toubkal | Toubkal refuge |

Description of Morocco trekking tour, High Atlas traverse

This fantastic eleven day trekking in Morocco itinerary offers the chance to hike the ascent from the Tichka Pass to the Yagour Plateau prior to descending through the wild Kissaria Gorges and finally heading upwards to the Toubkal Refuge, via the awesome Lake Ifni. This High Atlas Traverse is a stunning and quite unique route.

The panoramic views at over 4,000 metres are simply mesmerising with a moderate Grade 2 to strenuous Grade 3 trekking rating enabling most fit and experienced trekkers to tackle this highly recommended route with relative ease.

Atlas Mountains trekking is simply a joy, especially when you’re at the top, however, ensuring you have a pair of quality well-worn boots, a reasonable level of fitness and experience with trekking at altitude is essential for completing a successful tour.

A full support team, both at home and in Morocco, are on hand for advice, guidance and safety, with trekking organiser Andy (UK) and Head Guide Houcine in Imlil (Morocco) offering considerable experience and untold trekking hours to help you get the most rewarding and worthwhile High Atlas trekking tour possible.

The areas that you’ll be trekking in Morocco are well off the usual tourist trail with a well thought out, tested and trusted route taking in many of the High Atlas Mountain’s most impressive landmarks and captivating view points.

Timings are based upon a reasonably fit and experienced small group and feature enough flexibility to safely amend and alternate routes in the event of adverse weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances.

What’s included in this High Atlas trekking tour?
- To and from Marrakech airport transfers
- All overland transportation from Marrakech to Ticha Pass and Imlil to Marrakech
- Two nights B&B accommodation at Ksar Anika in Marrakech
- One night half board accommodation at the Douar Samra in Tamatert
- Half day sightseeing tour of Marrakech with an English-speaking local guide
- Full support team and mules to carry luggage and general equipment
- Mountain accommodation includes: igloo tents (with undermats), Berber houses and mountain refuge
- All meals on trek (apart from breakfast on first day and dinner on last day)
- Full insurance and emergency backup team

What should you bring for trekking in Morocco (depending upon the season)?
- A quality pair of well-worn walking boots
- A two to three seasons sleeping bag
- Waterproof and cold weather clothing
- Hats, balaclavas, ear muffs, thermals and gloves
- Walking or ski poles
- Personal toiletry equipment and first-aid kit
- Day rucksack, filled water bottles, towel and penknife
- LED head torch (if possible) or hand held torch and batteries
- Sun protection, insect repellent and hand gel
- Protein bars, dried fruit and energy sweets
- Hot chocolate sachets if preferable to tea and coffee
- Camping mug for hot drinks
- Loo roll and wet wipes

What are the meals like when trekking in the High Atlas?
Breakfast usually consists of: tea, coffee, milk, bread, butter, jam, cheese and either porridge in the winter or cereal in the summer.
Picnic lunches usually feature: fresh Moroccan salad, cheese, slicing sausage, tinned tuna and sardines, bread, fruit and mint tea.
Dinner is typically a meat (mutton or chicken) or vegetable tagine with cous cous or spaghetti, both of which are accompanied by hot drinks, cake and fruit. (Dinners tend to rotate depending on duration of the trek.)

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Upon arrival in Morocco you’ll be invited to transfer to your chosen hotel or riad accommodation in Marrakech to settle in and prepare for the tour ahead.
Day 2:This morning starts with a guided sightseeing tour of Marrakech featuring all entrance fees, Jamaa el Fna market, the former Medersa Ben Youssef Islamic College and a tour of the city’s historic and most important souks. The afternoon is free for you to explore or rest at leisure.
Day 3:A relatively early start this morning takes you south from Marrakech and into the High Atlas Mountains en-route to the stunning Tizi n'Tichka mountain pass at 2,500 metres. Highlights along the drive include the beautiful countryside of the Glaoua and Yagour regions as well as the Zat Valley and the tight bends negotiated along the ascent to the high plateau of the Jebel Yagour Mountain which summits at nearly 3,000 metres. Junipers, oaks and grazing goats and sheep form the backdrop to the drive with Neolithic rock carvings certainly worth a rest break before you settle into your evening’s accommodation within the Yagour Plateau.
Day 4:Leave your accommodation on the Yagour Plateau after breakfast and follow the well worn mule tracks which lead through Berber heartlands and into the fertile setting of Ourika Valley. After lunch in the valley you’ll make the gradual climb to Agadir n'Ait Boulemane and your evening’s accommodation in either a peaceful campsite or rural gite.
Day 5:After an early start you’ll set off from the Ourika Valley and upwards as you undertake an approximately seven hour hike to the nomadic grazing grounds of Aazib n’likkemt at just over 2700 m. The trek through the Kissaria Gorge system is fantastic and there are few other hikers to be found as you make your way carefully over the damp and sometimes slippery scree.
Day 6:Today’s climb allows you to reach the breathtaking Tifni Pass at almost 3,500 m feet where vast summer grazing fields accommodate hundreds of sheep and goats owned by the Berber shepherds of the Tifnout Valley. After lunch you’ll be ascending ever higher as you reach the Taghbaloute Pass and some outstanding views over Mt Toubkal. After catching your breath you’ll be invited to descend to this evening’s camping grounds at nearly 3,000 m with a highly impressive sunset view over Jbel Toubkal.
Day 7:Follow your guide from the spring at the foot of Mt Toubkal to the village of Tisselday before continuing across Tifnout Valley via the river at Amsouzert and several substantial villages situated on Mt Toubkal’s southern slopes. Stop for lunch under the massive old oak trees at Chez Belaid before continuing the trek upwards for 350m to Lake Ifni whereupon you’ll bed down for the night.
Day 8:This morning’s early start allows trekkers to avoid the heat of the midday as you make the fairly tough and challenging ascent to Ouanoums Pass. The trek takes around five hours and the water pit stop at Ifri nIrouzan provides not just refreshment but also some amazing views. After the break you’ll head down to the base of the Tizi-n'Ouagan Pass before finally reaching your overnight accommodation at the refuge at Toubkal.
Day 9:Tackling the trek from Toubkal refuge to the summit of Toubkal takes some going with a very early start allowing the trek to take full advantage of conditions as you prepare to make a steep yet not, technically speaking, difficult climb to Maghreb’s highest point at 4187m above sea level. Tonight’s rest back down at the Toubkal refuge will be well deserved with a choice of descents from the Toubkal summit providing plenty of talking points, especially if you opt for the cirque du nord route via the wreck of the ill-fated Portuguese army cargo plane that crashed during the 1960’s.
Day 10:Your penultimate day’s trek takes you from the Toubkal refuge and down to the russet red buildings of Douar Samra via the Berber villages of Sidi Chamharouch (2,800 m), Aroumd, (2,000 m), and Imlil (1850 m). Winding, cut-back trails, sacred trees and the fertile, terraced slopes of the High Atlas provide an incredible final day’s trekking canvas with a welcome glass of mint tea and dinner at Douar Samra offering a terrific end to an incredible trekking experience.
Day 11:Take your time to relax at Douar Samra or explore in the village of Imlil before transferring to Marrakech to catch your flight home or, perhaps, opting for a couple of extra nights in the former imperial city of Marrakech.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Morocco trekking tour, High Atlas traverse

Environment

All our guides and drivers in Morocco are local people. We believe that it is vital to work with local experts for trekking tours, firstly as they will be able to offer an insight into the fragile mountain environment; secondly to enable any profits to be ploughed back into the community. On this holiday the trekking is organised by Houcine, our Head Guide, based in Imlil, who is well renowned for his work in the region following up the achievments of his mentor, Mohammed Ait Iddar.

All food on our treks is sourced locally and we use a local gite in Imlil for the last night in the mountains. We have worked with Houcine and his predecessor for many years and have a well established and excellent relationship. We firmly believe in paying fairly for his services and that of his guides.

All our treks are based on individuals or a small group - we feel that this offers a more personal experience and therefore minimises the impact on the rural environment and on the local Berber people. During the trek our guides will encourage good practice such as keeping to paths and avoiding any actions that may assist erosion; this is true at the camp locations, too, as sites are picked carefully and left in the best possible condition.

We ask all our customers to respect the environment. Litter, in particular, is damaging to the fragile mountain environment and we encourage people to take their litter home. Of course, we also encourage visitors to reduce their impact by using refillable containers and minimum packaging where possible, particularly plastics. There is very little ground transport used on this holiday as it is one continuous trek from south to north so as with all walking holidays the carbon footprint is minimal.

To ensure the best possible service to our customers we engage services that make as low an impact as possible on the environment and local culture, whilst helping to generate long term employment and benefits for local people. Raising awareness of the culture, politics and economy of areas visited encourages responsible tourism practice and indirectly aides the preservation of the Kingdom's most precious resources. We take our responsibilities to the environment seriously and strive to make improvements where we can; there is always more work to be done but little by little one travels far. We have a policy of always using local suppliers wherever we can, so as to bring as much income to the local area as possible

The following applies to our UK AND Morocco partner offices - We work under the principles of reduce, reuse then recycle. We are committed to continuous improvement in all areas within this policy. Paper: We use both sides of the paper before recycling. Recycling: We recycle as many materials as possible including paper, cardboard, printer cartridges, cans and plastic. Energy Use: We turn off (not leave on standby) electrical items overnight or during holidays. Purchasing: We buy recycled / biodegradable products, including recycled printer toners, where possible and refill containers.

Community

Most of the riads we use in Marrakech are locally owned or are partnerships with a European owner and a Moroccan National, as is all of the accommodation in the Atlas Mountains and the south of Morocco. All staff members at these properties are local and all food and materials are sourced locally.

During the trek you will stay some nights in small, Berber gites in remote mountain villages; these are usually run by local families or regional co-operatives for which trekkers are a vital source of revenue. All our team will have been recruited from the local community, not only does this support the local economy but it allows you to have interaction with people who know the area well so that you can contribute fully and learn more; we have always preferred to employ local guides with reasonable English rather than bringing in an outsider whose English may be excellent but whose intimate knowledge of the local geography and economy is limited.

As stated above, all our guides and drivers in Morocco are local people.Your guide will, of course, advise you on local sensibilities - urban Morocco can be quite liberal in places but the Berber people are very conservative. As a general guideline, shoulders, cleavage and knees should be covered at all times, particularly when you are passing through remote villages.

Local staff are also encouraged to undertake courses as and when applicable. e.g. The Mule Care Initiative Workshops held on the 1st and 2nd March in Imlil, sponsored by Expedition Providers Association & The Donkey Sanctuary.

Through our long term partnerships in Morocco we have been able to support and encourage volunteering for local causes such as conservation projects. For example, the Berber Cultural Center in the village of Imi'n tahnoute, Association des Bassins d’Imlil for the Protection & Sustainable Development of the Valley Populations around Imlil & the Toubkal National Park, Solidarity & Preservation of Cultural Heritage in the village of Demnate. We also facilitated the opportunity for our local staff to support an initiative alongside Elaine Moran, a volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Demnate. Elaine has the funding to provide materials to repair and maintain pathways but needs manual labour and transportation for work crew which is where our partner agency can help.

Our partner agency in Morocco regularly donates money to local causes. This is done on a case by case basis and is generally not by making monetary donations to large organisations but more by assisting local people/families at times of need. e.g. providing a sheep to a family who cannot afford one at the time of Eid El Kebir, purchasing flight tickets to enable a student to attend study placement awarded overseas, paying for medical treatment or prescription medication, purchasing clothing for a person to attend interviews and obtain employment, offering temporary accommodation/purchasing meals for the homeless as well as initiatives for staff welfare and contributions to local animal and children's charities.

Your visit to the Atlas Mountains will give you a taste of the incredible hospitality of Morocco as well as contributing indirectly to the local economy.

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