With the snow-capped peaks of Morocco's High Atlas Mountains providing an impressive backdrop, we make an exhilarating climb to the summit of Jebel Toubkal (4167m), North Africa's highest peak. On a clear day we enjoy winter views from the summit across the Atlas range and over the Sahara Desert. En route we discover local villages and experience Berber hospitality. On our return we also explore the souks and medina of the bustling city of Marrakech.
Winter Trekking - An exhilarating trek among snow-capped peaks and the stunning landscape of the Atlas Mountains.
Jebel Toubkal - Ascend to the summit of the highest peak in North Africa (4167m).
Berber Villages - Discover remote villages and meet the hospitable local people.
Marrakech - A chance to explore Morocco's captivating Red City.
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 welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other 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.
Day 2: Drive to Imlil and trek to Aremd (2000m)
Accommodation: Village House
After most of the morning free in Marrakech, we leave the city behind and drive south 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. Here we leave our vehicle and in the company of our tour leader, assistant mountain guide and cook, head along the Mizane Valley towards the Berber village of Aremd (2000m). 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 and we will have a chance to explore something of the village en route to our overnight accommodation, stopping for a refreshing mint tea along the way.
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 one and a half kilometre walk is expected to take around one hour with a total ascent of 210 metres.
Day 3: Trek to Neltner Refuge (3207m) via Sidi Chamharouch
Accommodation: Mountain Refuge
This morning we meet up with our mules and muleteers for the continuing journey through the mountains. Heading east and crossing 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 Chamharouch (2340m), 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 and presents a jumbled cluster of houses that seem to melt together into a chaotic mass along the valley walls. Continuing up into the snow-line it will take us another 5 hours to reach the refuge. After a chance to rest we'll then do another equipment check, practising on the surrounding snow covered slopes and receiving some basic instruction on the use of crampons and ice axes from our mountain guide.
At the base of Toubkal we stay at Mountain Refuge. The rooms are basic dorm rooms with bunk beds. There are shared toilets and showers, a dining room and large lounge area with a wood burning stove where everyone gathers and socialises in the evening. It's a great way to meet like-minded trekkers from all over the world.
Today's nine and a half kilometre walk is expected to take around five hours with a total ascent of 1257 metres.
Day 4: Ascend Jebel Toubkal (4167m)
Accommodation: Mountain Refuge
If conditions are right this morning we will make our first attempt on the summit of Jebel Toubkal, North Africa's highest mountain. It will be an early start, a long day and a steep climb, as we make our way up a meandering track of snow and scree to our first stopping point at 3700m. From here we turn left, following the slope up to the South Col of Tizi n' Toubkal (3975m), from where we follow the snowy ridge to the summit. Depending upon snow conditions, the journey to the top should take us around 4 hours and once we hit the summit the views that greet us are simply breathtaking. On a clear day you can see the entire Toubkal range, right down to the plains of Haouz surrounding Marrakech. To the north lie the white giants of the High Atlas and to the south, 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. Descending to the Neltner Refuge from here, the journey back should take us around 2.5 hours, where a late lunch will be waiting for us.
Today's four-and-a-half kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with a total ascent of 967 metres and a descent of 967 metres.
Day 5: Ascent of Mount Ouanoukrim (4086m)
Accommodation: Mountain Refuge
Assuming conditions yesterday were right for the ascent of Jebel Toubkal, this morning you may like to attempt the nearby peak of Ouanoukrim, a more demanding climb than Toubkal with some steep, exposed sections of rock and snow. Departing the lodge early, we follow a gradually climbing path that takes us towards Tizi n'Ouanoums and then on to Tizi n'Ouagane (3750m). Chances are we will encounter snow for much of the journey and, as we begin the ascent to the top from Tizi n'Ouagane, we will have to negotiate a rocky track that may require some scrambling. Once past this section though, the route to the top then continues along a steadily climbing slope of snow and scree to the summit, from where we are rewarded with more spectacular views across the Anti Atlas and the Sahara. Enjoying a picnic lunch en route, the entire journey should take us around 8 hours, depending on conditions.
Today's six kilometre walk is expected to take around eight hours with a total ascent of 882 metres and a descent of 882 metres.
Day 6: AM trek to Tizi Ouanoums Pass (3650m), then descend to Aremd via Neltner
Accommodation: Village House
This morning we follow the same initial route as for Ouanoukrim before turning left up a steep gorge to Tizi Ouanoums, a viewpoint affording stunning views down towards the still waters of Lac D'ifni. The total journey should take us around 3 hours, returning to Neltner for lunch. Afterwards we turn our back on the mountain for the last time and head back down to Aremd, arriving in the village late this afternoon. Depending on our arrival time, there may be time for an optional visit to the local hammam.
Today's 13.5 kilometre walk is expected to take around seven hours with a total ascent of 400 metres and a descent of 1650 metres.
Day 7: Trek to Imlil. Drive back to Marrakech
Trekking back to Imlil this morning we rejoin our vehicles and drive back to Marrakech, where on arrival the rest of the day is free 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 water-sellers. Marrakech is divided into two distinct parts, the Gueliz (or modern French-built city) and the Medina (the Old City) and there is
the option to take an afternoon walking tour around the souks with a local guide, visiting the museum and the elegant Koutoubia mosque and tower, reputed to be the most perfect Islamic monument in North Africa. Alternatively you may prefer to spend your final afternoon independently exploring this maze of narrow streets, enjoying the sounds, colours and smells of the exotic and perhaps haggling for some last minute presents. Or perhaps you'll prefer just sitting in a local café and watching the street tableaux unfold before you.
Today's on-and-a-half kilometre walk is expected to take around 45 minutes with a total descent of 210 metres.
Day 8: Trip ends Marrakech
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.
Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?
Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners
Can I join the tour once it has departed?
Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.
Do I need to be very fit to book with you?
All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.
Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?
Yes on most of our trips.
Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o
How long has the tour company been trading?
At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.
I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?
It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.
Should I get travel insurance?
Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us
What documents will I receive before I travel?
Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.
What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?
Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?
We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.
What is the accommodation like?
We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.
What policies are in place for Covid-19?
Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.
Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?
We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.
Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?
Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.