Our Mount Toubkal and Sahara Desert Trek walking and discovery holiday in Morocco combines the challenge of summitting Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak (4,167 m), with some light trekking in the High Atlas Mountains and camel riding in the Sahara Desert (the dunes of Erg Chebbi).
Morning private transfer from Marrakech to the village of Imlil (90 km / 2 hours). There you will leave the vehicle and, in the company of your mountain guide, begin your trek, heading along the Mizane Valley, first towards the village of Aremd and then onto the shrine of Sidi Chamarouch.
Built on a moraine spur overlooking the valley floor, Aremd is the largest village in the valley and provides an exciting mix of traditional terraced farming and streets that seem to be permanently gridlocked by goats and cattle. Continuing east and crossing the floodplain your route takes you along mule tracks and up into the high rocky cliffs above the valley.
Crossing the river you eventually come to the pastoral shrine of Sidi Chamarouch, which attracts tourists and pilgrims alike (although only Muslims are allowed to cross the stone bridge to visit the shrine itself). From here the trail continues to ascend steadily, snaking and zigzagging its way up to the snowline and the Mouflons Toubkal Refuge (3,207m), your stop for the night.
Accommodation: Refuge LeMouflons (dormitory; optional upgrade to a private room)
Meals: packed lunch and dinner; tea and coffee
Walking distance: 6-7 hours
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, where you will spend the night.
Accommodation: a traditional riad (Dar Adrar, or similar)
Meals: full board; tea and coffee
Walking distance: 9-11 hours
You will be picked up from your accommodation in Imlil at 9.00 am and head through the Atlas Mountains, driving over the stunning Tizi-n-Tichka mountain pass. You’ll pass through lots of Berber villages, and once you’re in the desert, you’ll see riverside oases and barren hillsides dotted with kasbahs (fortified dwellings that house families and their livestock).
Along the way, you will have the option to take a break and visit the Ouarzazate Film Studios. Measured by acreage, it is the world’s largest film studio. Many sets from the filming of various movies and TV series including Gladiator and Game of Thrones remain in place and, because of this, the studio also operates with guided tours and has become a popular tourist destination.
A side trip is also possible to Ait Benhaddou. This is an ancient fortified city containing countless kasbahs and has been filmed in numerous Hollywood movies (The Mummy, Gladiator, Alexander, Lawrence of Arabia). You will have the chance to walk around the buildings and explore with your guide. Once you reach Dades Gorge, you have the option of going for a short hike, or relaxing at your hotel. Overnight in Dades.
Accommodation: Hotel in Dades (Dar Essayaha , Babylon or similar)
Walking distance: 1-2hours; driving time: 7 hours
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer from the Dades Valley to Todra Gorge – a massive fault dividing the High Atlas mountains, rising up 300 metres in a narrow valley with palmeries and Berber villages. Here, you can go for a hike to explore the palmery, a green oasis full of large date palms.
After lunch, you’ll head further into the desert to the desert gateway town of Merzouga to pick up supplies for your desert trip. You will then drive on to a kasbah to pick up your camel.
At sunset, you’ll trek for about 1.5 hours by camel to a Berber camp where you will enjoy a traditional Moroccan dinner, and sleep under the stars or in tents at a desert camp.
Accommodation: tent camp in the dunes of Erg Chebbi
Meals: half board (breakfast and dinner)
Walking distance: 1.5-2 hours (camel ride)
Driving : 6 -7hours
Wake up early and enjoy a camel ride at sunrise to explore the area further. After the camel ride (1.5 hours) we will head back to Merzouga on our camels. When we reach Merzouga, you will have breakfast and the opportunity to have a shower and then we begin our journey through the stony desert and over the Atlas mountains, with plenty of stops for photos, exploring and lunch as we return to Marrakech. The usual arrival time in Marrakech is between 5 and 6 pm.
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 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque.
Accommodation: no overnights included (you can book an optional extra night in Marrakech)
Walking distance: 1-2 hours (camel riding)
Driving : 9 to 10hours
- All transport
- 1 Overnight in Dar Adrar or similar (Dinner & breakfast)
- 1 overnight at Toubkal Refuge.
- English speaking guide, and cook (Mountain trek)
- Muleteers and mules for assistance (Mountain trek)
- Full board on trek + mineral water, coffee and tea (Mountain trek)
- 4x4 or Mini-bus during Desert tour
- 1 overnight in a hotel at Dades (Dinner & breakfast)
- 1overnight camping on Dunes of Erg chebbi (Dinner & breakfast)
- Camel Ride on Dunes
- Travel insurance.
- Soft/alcoholic drinks
- Tips and personal expanses
- Lunches during the desert tour.
- Entrance fee (Monuments visits)