12 independent reviews for Climb Mount Toubkal trek, Morocco3 star rating

These full and frank independent reviews are from travellers who have booked directly through responsibletravel.com. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travellers below.

Edmund Raczkowski review 5 Dec 20124 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Scaling both Mt Toubkal and Ouanoukrim and gazing at the views.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Ensure you are fit and equipped with tablets for Altitude Sickness.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes it was a joy to both see and integrate with so many... Especially as they are such lovely people

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good indeed!!!

Simon Brown review 28 Feb 20123 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Climbing Ouanoukrim and Toubkal - it was hard work - but well worth it. The sense of achievement from climbing the peaks was unbelievable. We were a group of 8 strangers at the start, and by the end of the week we were a big family - a brilliant group to share the week with.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Organise a group tip kitty at the beginning - it would save the problem of everyone trying to find 20 Dhm for the Souk guide, the mini bus driver etc. Have a tip kitty for the porters / cook / guides - and don't feel obliged to pay what is recommended, but what you feel is appropriate (compare what is suggested back to the original guide book). Take hand cleansing gel for the stay in the refuge.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Marrakech was a wonderful collection of noise (the bustle of the souks, the main square, the early morning call to prayer echoing across the city), and smells (the food stalls, the spices etc). The change as you leave Marrakech and head out into the countryside is staggering, as are the views as you approach the mountains. The refuge at Neltner is certainly an experience - it serves its purpose. I would go for 3 1/2 stars - it was certainly a very memorable holiday - the group were fantastic - I could only recommend it to hardy travellers who would be able to cope with the cold and the refuge.

Harmony Smith review 3 Apr 20114 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most exciting part was summiting two 4000m peaks in consecutive days.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You gotta have good stamina if you want to get the best out of this holiday and do two peaks.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, local people were used as guides, porters and cooks and they took an interest in preserving their environment from any litter enroute.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This holiday was fab...the pace of the guide Mohammed and Ishmail was excellent and allowed us all to acclimatise in our own time. I enjoyed the company of the other 4 in the group as well. everybody was up for summiting and enthusiastic.....Marrakesh was awesome too...I got some funny gifts from the herbal shops to take home...everybody had a laugh about the morrocan viagra...

Gillian Paul review 1 Mar 20114 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The lovely weather, beautiful scenery and friendly people.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go for it, but realise that the facilities are not the same as at home. However it is all part of the adventure.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Darren Gill review 27 Feb 20114 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Our 2 Berber guides and their hospitality. The friendships with fellow travellers in our group, we were all solo travellers and the amazing scenery of the Atlas Mts.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you have good sunscreen as the sun is very strong up high in the Atlas Mts, drink lots. Be prepared for longs days, however with a good base of fitness it is most enjoyable.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, as a group we tried to make sure our money was spent within the villages and not just Marrakech. I believe the company used local people really well and was not taking advantage of them. The company took appropriate measures to limit the amount of litter of the group.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


An amazing experience that was too short as I loved every minute of it. It had the right mix of physical activity and relaxation at the end of each day, will be going back to Morocco, just loved the people and environment.

Melissa Arkinstall review 21 Mar 20104 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The whole experience was fantastic, the obvious highlight being that everyone in our group stood on the summit of Mount Toubkal. However, every day was an adventure from the first time that we drove into the sunny village of Imlil seeing the mountains that we were to climb towering in the distance to the final night in the mountains listening to the prayer call echoing through the valley at sunset and having dinner over-looking the magical medina on the last night.
Our guides Mohammed and Khaled deserve to be commended and recognised for going the extra mile to make the trek such a memorable experience. They showed absolute professionalism and they helped us to achieve every hike that we wished to whilst ensuring that our safety was paramount at all times. This combined with their humour and smiles made everyday a pleasure and I wouldn't hesitate to book any trek that they were guiding in the future. A special mention also to our cook, Mohammed, who provided plentiful amounts of delicious food that catered for everyone including vegetarians. Brillliant!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be ready for some long days trekking by doing some hilly walks before you go to build up fitness but don't worry about the pace or being left behind, the guides were brilliant and looked after everyone.
Take earplugs as people get up at different times in the refuge.
Don't forget the high factor sunscreen, even with snow on the ground the sun can be very strong.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Spending time in the Berber villages was a wonderful experience and every effort was made to respect the culture and traditions of the local people whilst minimising any impact on the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent, exceeded my expectations, all ran like clockwork from the pre-holiday assistance through to our wonderful head guide who even got up at 5am to ensure that I got safely into my taxi to the airport!

Alan Johnson review 20 Mar 20104 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The trip was an utter success. I can not express enough how our main guide Mohamed was the glue that held everything in place. He seemed to be everywhere at exactly the right time either to offer assistance or a joke. What ever he was dong his timing was impeccable. On the mountain he was attentive while appreciative of others experience. He showed professional conduct while maintaining an appropriate persona. Everyone managed to summit and reach the objective of topping out on the mountain Toubkel. Mohamed was a diplomat, a friend, a guide and a professional, exactly when he needed to be. I enjoyed the whole trip...all of it.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Not to underestimate the power of the sun or altitude.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I wished I had known more about the opportunity to give something to the local school post trip. I would have taken something with me to offer at the end.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Mohamed and Kalihiad were simply the best. Filled with information, jokes and guidance at the right time. Truly a difficult job with different people in the group wanting and requiring different things. However, I do not doubt they will not always get it right but that will be no fault of Mohamed or Kahlied. They were accommodating to the last and true diplomats of their country and the Berber people. I would like to visit Morocco again after experiencing such humbling hospitality.
Thank you.

Elena Saw review 20 Feb 20104 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Walking up to the top of Toubkal in absolutely wintry conditions, snow beating down my face in strong winds! Almost arctic. No views up top due to weather but satisfaction of getting to summit in such conditions was a good feeling. Fabulous and felt an absolute achievement. Experiencing the 'hammam', bargaining in the souks and getting to know amazing people (from the group, the guides and others at the refuge camp).

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Especially for the winter trek, you need to be prepared for a let down in case weather is not conducive for walking. By luck our guide altered itinerary to make main trek to summit on 1st day of which we were grateful as if according to initial itinerary, no one from any groups there attempted the trek the following day due to bad weather.
Go with the flow and make the best out of any opportunity.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Definitely, worked with the indigenous Berbers and used mules for transportation whenever possible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Absolute star and would definitely do another winter trek.

Sue Morton review 5 Jan 20101 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The holiday was not what we had hoped for, or expected based on the information given to us by the operator. I feel we were lucky to have gone with a nice group of people who all worked well together to make the best of a series of bad events which were poorly managed by the Moroccan company - the group ended up making all the required decisions to make our holiday 'not a total disaster'

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The trip advertised winter ascent of Toubkal ok for beginners who had trekking experience - this was absolutely not the case. We are both experienced winter mountaineers (and MLTB mountain leaders ) but went along on this trip as my son who is 13 had done lots of trekking but only done 1 or 2 winter Scottish Munro's and had not used crampons before - we thought the advertised training would be nice for him to do in a group of beginners. No training was given by the guides to anyone - despite the fact that we sat around in the hut for a whole day, and despite the fact that my husband went out into the snow and gave ice axe arrest training to my son. There were several people in the group who were ill equipped for safe winter mountaineering, who did not have waterproofs or adequate footwear - this was not picked up on by the guide - therefore inexperienced people were allowed onto the mountains. No-one was shown how to adjust crampons or put them onto boots, how to hold an ice axe or how to do an ice axe arrest.

People in the group who did have experience obviously did their best to help out these people, but if everyone had been a beginner this would not have happened. We had bad weather - a 4-5 day storm of snow and gusty winds - the guide in our group only went up the mountain with us for 150m and then when he met another guided group who had turned back he told our group we also had to turn back. At this point the weather was not that bad and the decision was not based on experience in the party or any actual decision - the guide told us that if one guided group turned back then all guided groups had to also turn back otherwise he would lose his license. This seems to be a ridiculous system (if it is true) as then irrespective of experience in a party, all groups must fail to attempt the summit if one guide thinks he does not want to continue up the mountain. Later that day at least 2 groups of independent walkers went up to the summit of Toubkal - they said it was cold and pretty nasty weather on the ridge but fine to do if you were experienced. Several people in our group asked if we could try to summit in an experienced group by taking one of the 2 guides, and leaving the other guide for the other less experienced people, but the guide said the group could not be split - this was quite frustrating for people.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We seemed to be dishing out 'tips' the whole time and the amounts suggested by the guide were way in excess of what was stated in the company booklet - therefore the guides both ended up with in excess of £100 each, the cook 1000 Moroccan dirhams etc. Given that the guide had not actually been a good leader - not really helping when our luggage got lost en-route in Casablanca, not making good mountain decisions, not training anyone, etc I felt this was a shame and did not make us feel very happy. He also arranged a meal on the last evening in a very expensive restaurant - much more expensive than anywhere else in Marrakech that we ate in, neither of the 2 guides had to pay for their meals, but we ended up paying more that we wanted to.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The concept was great - climb Toubkal at Christmas - but given that the guide told us that regular winter storms mean that only 5% of winter ascents of Toubkal are successful I felt that I had been badly mislead and had spent a lot of money to sleep in very overcrowded hut with no heating without much hope of getting up the mountain either because of weather, or because the guides wouldn't let us. Sorry about my ratings but I am not a moany person by nature - it is just that the holiday was a big misrepresentation and what was advertised did not happen.

Read the operator's response here:

We were very sorry to hear that this group were unable to summit and of the problems they encountered on the trip. These have been investigated and followed up with our agent in Morocco and the relevant people here in the UK. We would like to address the points raised in turn:-

Guide and equipment check - Group Leaders should always check equipment and we have addressed this matter in the strongest terms with our local agent. This is the first time this has happened and we have been assured that it will not happen again.

Ice Axe & Crampon training – We can confirm that we expect this to be done on each trip. Having discussed this with the Group Leader he has explained that when the group arrived at the refuge the snow was very soft and in his opinion it made no sense to demonstrate their use when they wouldn’t be needed in the current conditions. This should, however, have been explained to the group and we are looking to change the advice we give on our trip notes in future.

Conditions and failure to summit – it is unusual for a whole group to be unable to summit. Last year we only had one group in February who had to turn back because of the heavy snow cover. The 5% success rate mentioned by the guide is inaccurate and he was in fact referring to the percentage success rate for groups in the conditions this particular group experienced. He has reported that following the ascent to 200m, the group turned back along with more than 30 other people. The snow conditions were very bad and the guides had to be cautious in making their decision to continue or not. Our main priority is to ensure that everyone returns safely and that no accidents occur. To this end we fully support the decision the guides made to abandon the summit attempt and return to the refuge. We appreciate that some of this group were more experienced than others, however, for safety reasons we would not allow a split group to have proceeded with only one guide. We have followed up your report about the independent travellers reaching the summit and whilst not disputing the fact that they managed this under difficult conditions, sadly one of them was killed a couple of days later at a pass not far from the Neltner refuge. Our agent has confirmed that there were a number of accidents that week which reinforces our view that the decision taken was the right one.

Tips – for better or worse Morocco is a tipping culture, though all tipping is discretionary and none of our clients should feel obliged to tip poor service. The discrepancy between the recommendations in our trip notes and those suggested by the guide are being followed up by the Product Executive responsible for our Morocco trips. We try to keep these as up to date as possible but fluctuating exchange rates over the recent year have made this more difficult.

Final Meal – the guides usually book a suitable restaurant so that the group can have a farewell dinner. The restaurant was chosen due to the quality of the food in comparison to price. Dinner on that night was not included and the group were free to make other arrangements had they so wished.

Winter Toukbal is one of our most popular trips and feedback from last winter was excellent overall. I realise that it was extremely disappointing for the group to have been unable to reach the summit; however, we can confirm that the majority of groups do succeed during the winter months. The problems the group encountered were the result of weather conditions which were beyond our control and whilst not wishing to negate their unhappiness with this, we must point out that the very nature of the trip means that the activities being undertaken are subject to local conditions.
The feedback has been taken seriously and as such has been discussed at a Senior Manager level as part of our monthly Quality Forum. A member of our UK staff is due to travel to Morocco shortly as part of our routine schedule of destination visits, she will be reviewing the details of this trip along with others in our Morocco programme and we will continue to monitor standards closely.

Judith Petrie review 7 Apr 20093 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Views from the top of Toubkal

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


It will be cold, and take gaiters (otherwise your socks will be wet).

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


It must have benefited local people through the number of people that were employed to guide/feed/look after us. Because we were walking most of the time we will hopefully not have had a huge impact on the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent. Very good guides - friendly and knowledgeable, spectacular views and a good chance to use crampons and an ice axe if you have never used them before.

Mandy Pegman review 7 Feb 20093 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Reaching the summit of Toubkal, in the snow and the sunshine.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Pack warm clothes because you will be wearing 4 layers IN DOORS, and gloves and a hat all the time. It is colder inside than out, because outside you are moving and thus keeping warm.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We tipped local people for their services, and walked everywhere so minimal impact on environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very enjoyable. I don't know why we have to make a local payment, why it can't just be all on the bill. Also tipping was very awkward. Could the guide not deal with this, and this also be added to the bill. In the info we were told £25 should cover it but it was actually £50, and also we apparently treated the guides to an expensive meal in Marrakesh, which is fine but it was awkward and embarrassing at the time because no one knew how many ways to split the bill, and the guides said nothing at all, so we did not know what to do. In England it would at least have been polite to say 'thank you' or something. The tipping, and occasionally feeling that one was being taken for a ride, was definitely the worst thing.

Read the operator's response here:

We operate a Local Payment system as it provides an efficient way of getting funds to our local Group Leaders and is used as a float for various expenses throughout the trip. It is an integral part of the overall trip price and allows us to keep costs down. Tipping is always a sensitive issue and we regret the amount was more than you expected. Whilst all tipping is at your own discretion, it is a way of life in North Africa and it would have been easier if your guide had arranged a tip kitty at the start.

Costs have gone up recently in Morocco and have been affected by the fluctuation in exchange rates over recent months. We are now in the process of putting local costs into local currencies to avoid any problems in future. Your comments on the meal in Marrakech will be taken up with our agent as there certainly should have been no assumption that the group were paying for the guides. Please accept our sincere apologies for the embarrassment this caused.

C M review 23 Dec 20083 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The views from the top of the peaks made the slog worthwhile!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Pack warm clothes!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent!

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5 stars
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
4 stars
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
3 stars
Very enjoyable
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It was OK
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A bit disappointing really
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