One for the weekend Explorer, spend 2.5 days in Morocco's Atlas Mountains trekking to the summit of North Africa's highest peak, Jebel Toubkal (4,167m). Enjoy panoramic views and discover the exotic backstreets of Marrakech on foot. A challenging trek among the spectacular valleys of the High Atlas. Enjoy freshly prepared Moroccan meals and traditional Berber hospitality. Time to explore Morocco's captivating 'Red City' of Marrakech.
Arrive in Marrakech. Morocco's famous Red City, Marrakech is the spiritual heart of the country, a cultural melting pot of the mountain Berbers and the desert peoples of the south. Blessed with some of the most stunning architecture in Morocco, its mix of tradition, colour and history makes it the ideal starting point. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Marrakech at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK), which is around 20 minutes' drive. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to relax beside our hotel's rooftop swimming pool or take a stroll around Djemma El Fna Square.
Meals: ,No Meals,
Leaving the city behind we drive south today, towards the craggy peaks and plunging valleys of the Toubkal Massif. Crossing the Haouz Plain we pass through the tiny town of Asni, from where our road begins to climb towards the foothills of the Massif. Below us the valley of the Oued Rhirhaia stretches out into the distance and small villages cling to the sides of the steep hills as we meander our way towards the village of Imlil (1740m). Here we leave our vehicle and, in the company of our mountain guide, begin our trek, heading along the Mizane Valley, first towards the village of Aremd (1900m) 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 interesting mix of traditional terraced farming, gites and streets that seem to be permanently gridlocked by goats and cattle. For generations the local Berber villagers have worked these lands, producing corn, potatoes and walnuts from the harsh landscape. Continuing across the flood plain our route takes us along mule tracks and up into the high rocky cliffs above the valley. Crossing the river we 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 marabout shrine itself). The village sits besides a small waterfall, a jumbled cluster of houses that seem to melt together into an anarchic mass. From here the trail continues to climb steadily, snaking and zigzagging its way up to the snowline and our camp (3206m). We camp at the base of Toubkal, near to the Refuge with fantastic views down the valley. You can buy drinks and snacks at the refuge and showers are available at an additional cost. Two man tents are provided with a dinning tent and basic toilet tent. Today's 11 kilometre walk is expected to take around five hours with a total ascent of approximately 1,460 metres.
Early this morning we make our attempt on the summit of Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in Northern Africa. Our route takes us up the south cirque, crossing the stream above the refuge and then heading across one of the mountains numerous scree fields, where we 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 the going quite difficult in parts, however, the views along the way make the journey more than worthwhile. Cresting the ridgeline we find ourselves on the plateau, from where it is a short walk to the summit and the vistas out across the surrounding landscape are quite breathtaking. From here there are unrestricted views in every direction, from the Marrakech Plain to the High Atlas in the north and as far south as the Anti-Atlas and the Sahara. Pliny, the great Roman scholar, once described the High Atlas Mountains as 'the most fabulous mountains in all of Africa' and from our vantage point high above the valley it is easy to understand why. Retracing our steps we then return down the mountain and head back towards Aremd (1900m). In Armed we stay in a traditional Berber village house. There are number of twin or triple rooms with shared facilities, hot showers and a communal area for eating. Today's 17 kilometre walk is expected to take around 10 to 11 hours with 967 metres of asecnt and 2,217 metres of descent.
Accommodation: ,Village House
Returning on foot to Imlil (1740m) this morning, we then drive back to Marrakech where, on arrival, you will have some free time to explore the city's colourful souks and its celebrated Djemma El Fna Square. A feast for the senses, the area is a chaotic confusion of noise and colour, where you will find the streets alive with storytellers and letter-writers, musicians, jugglers and watersellers. There is the option to take an afternoon walking tour around the souks with a local guide, also visiting the museum and the elegant Koutoubia mosque and tower, reputed to be the most perfect Islamic monument in North Africa. Marrakech is divided into two distinct parts, the Gueliz (or modern French-built city) and the Medina (the Old City) and you may prefer to spend your final afternoon independently exploring its maze of narrow streets, filled with the sounds, colours and smells of the exotic, perhaps haggling for some last minute presents, or just sitting in a café and watching the street tableaux unfold before you. Today's one-and-a-half kilometre walk is expected to take around 45 minutes with 210 metres of descent.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Marrakech. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Marrakech at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK). Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may have some additional time to wander in the souks of Marrakech or buy your last souvenirs before departure.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
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