Toubkal is perhaps one of the world's most approachable peaks at its latitude (4116 meters). The ascent of Toubkal is a great adventure that is done on a 2 to 3-day hike. It is an ascent that is not at all technical and does not require a great experience in mountaineering. That said, a good organization, a minimum physical condition, and a lot of motivation are necessary.
Risks in the ascent of Toubkal? Yes of course! Despite how simple this ascent is, it is not without risk. Moreover, fatal accidents have already occurred during the ascent of Toubkal. Unfortunate incidents occurred mainly due to unexpected natural elements or lack of preparation.
You have to know when to go, what equipment to bring, and how to organize yourself. Above all, we must keep in mind that it is a great summit. The Toubkal is a mountain to be considered, like all the others, with great respect and humility!
HOW TO ORGANIZE THE CLIMB TO TOUBKAL BY YOURSELF: ROUTE, ACCOMMODATION, CLIMB
GETTING TO IMLIL, STARTING POINT OF THE TOUBKAL HIKE
Marrakech is a popular starting point for trips to Toubkal National Park. It is from ocher city that the village of Imlil is the most easily accessible. Indeed, you can get to Imlil from other access points such as the Ourika Valley or the Lake Ifni region, but it is more complicated when it comes to public transport.
1. TRANSPORT FROM MARRAKECH TO IMLIL BY TAXI:
64 km separate Imlil from Marrakech. The most economical way to get there is to take a seat in one of the large shared taxis departing from Marrakech. Taxis to Imlil leave from Marrakech at Bab Agnaou or Sidi Mimoun. We are waiting, that said, for the taxi to be full (6 places) before we can leave. The cost of a seat ranges from 35 to 40 dh. (around 4$).
Note that when there is no taxi leaving directly for Imlil, you can take a taxi for Asni and then another for Imlil.
2. DRIVING FROM MARRAKECH TO IMLIL:
The road from Marrakech to Imlil crosses some very beautiful Moroccan natural sites. Starting with Lake Lalla Takerkoust 30 km south of Marrakech. A very beautiful region to discover too, with nautical activities and good Berber tajines to taste.
That said, the road approaching the village of Imlil is a bit difficult to negotiate. Indeed, the road has many bends and is one of the worst conditions when it rains in the region. Drive, therefore, carefully, taking your time to admire the road.
BEFORE THE ASCENSION OF TOUBKAL, THE BERBER VILLAGE OF IMLIL
The Berber village of Imil, starting point for the ascent of Toubkal, is one of the most beautiful Moroccan Berber villages. It is worth the trip alone because it is located at the foot of Toubkal at 1740 meters.
1. WHERE TO SLEEP IN IMLIL? :
Imlil is well-equipped to receive hikers. There are several cottages available, all with various pricing and services. You have to book in advance for the best-known like Riad Atlas Toubkal or Dar Imlil. You can also easily find where to stay with the locals on arrival when you are alone or as a couple.
2. WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO SEE IN IMLIL? :
Several easy hikes are possible from Imlil. Hikes to discover nearby natural sites such as the Imlil waterfalls. Tours to visit other beautiful Berber villages such as Tachdirte. You can also just relax in the village, meet its charming inhabitants, and admire the splendor of the Atlas from the comfort of its terrace.
3. HIRE HIKING EQUIPMENT IN IMLIL:
Local lodges and guides offer the equipment needed to climb Toubkal for hire. Shoes and snowshoes for the snow, sleeping bags or jackets more suitable for the cold.
4. FIND A HIKING GUIDE IN IMLIL:
This is the time to decide if you want a guide for the hike and the ascent of Toubkal. In Imlil, it is easier to find a local guide and negotiate good prices.
FROM THE VILLAGE OF IMLIL TO THE FOOT OF TOUBKAL: WHAT TO EXPECT
From the village of Imlil to the Toubkal refuge, the last stop before the ascent, a very pleasant hike awaits you. A nice 6-hour walk when you take your time, and you have to. The landscapes are very beautiful, and the elevation is gradual. A hike is accessible to all!
We come across one of the region's odd locations in the middle of this mountain path. The courtyard of Sidi Chamharouch. A mausoleum was created for Chamharouch, the king of the djins and guardian of the mountain of Toubkal in the traditions of the region. A curious place where you can see Moroccans, of different ages, arriving with gasps and trembling legs. People go there to be cured, according to local belief, of sterility, rheumatism, and other incurable diseases,
Sidi Chamharouch, for hikers, is above all the unexpected stopover for a good lunch break or to refresh yourself. We eat very good tajines there while watching the curious spectacle of people in processions.
REFUGEES AT THE FOOT OF TOUBKAL BEFORE THE ASCENSION
Last stage of the first day of the Toubkal hike before the final ascent to the summit on the second day. We are already more than an average of 4 hours walk from the famous summit. Two housing options:
1. THE TOUBKAL REFUGE:
Built by the French Alpine Club of Casablanca (CAC) in 1938, this is the first stage of refuge for the ascent of Toubkal. A basic refuge at a very reasonable price of 15 euros per night. The infrastructures are rudimentary but comfortable and clean. You can take a shower and dine there, to sleep a few hours before the very early ascent to the summit.
2. LES MOUFLONS:
The second refuge of Toubkal was built only a few years ago. A more expensive refuge but also much less popular with hikers for reasons of hospitality, cleanliness, and maintenance.
Both must be reserved in advance. Some choose to spend the night in a bivouac next to the refugees, but it is not the most comfortable before starting the ascent.
CLIMBING TOUBKAL SUMMIT: HOW TO GET IT
The alarm clock rings at 4 a.m. to prepare for the ascent. A hearty breakfast to give yourself a good energy boost, and hikers are already setting off on Indian trails in the dark.
1. THE ASCENSION:
This is the moment when you most need a guide or to join a group. Even with the illumination of the flashlight, the road is difficult to see in the dark. It is a zigzag path, with an increasingly steep drop as you approach the summit. Although the ascent is not technically demanding, you will need to take many rests to acclimate to the altitude.
2. THE SUMMIT:
After 4 hours of walking on average, we finally reach the highest peak in North Africa. A magical moment where we brush against the clouds while admiring the splendor of the Atlas mountain range. The euphoria of success should not make you forget the essential: your safety. Be wary of strong winds and avoid getting too close to the edge of the cliff.
3. THE DESCENT:
This is probably the most difficult part of the ascent of Toubkal. Summer, as well as winter descents, can be hazardous. In summer, it is rocky, steep, and slippery terrain. As for winter, the snow can sometimes hide major crevasses. So you have to go down slowly, paying attention to where you put your feet.
Mountaineers will tell you: It is not enough to reach the summit, you have to know how to descend safely!
END OF THE TOUBKAL ASCENT AND WAY BACK TO THE VILLAGE OF IMLIL
Climbing to the peak of Toubkal and returning takes about 8 hours on average. We start the ascent very early to avoid the violent winds which are triggered in the morning at the summit and to descend without suffering too much from the very powerful sun.
1. RETURN TO THE REFUGE:
It's time to take a long, well-deserved rest break after the exploit. Plan to have lunch on-site (early!) to regain strength before starting the second part of the return journey.
2. RETURN TO IMLIL:
The return to Imlil is on the same path as the driveway. This time the walk is faster because it is downhill. You have to make arrangements anyway to get to Imlil before nightfall. Between the ascent of the summit and the return to Imlil, there are more than 12 hours of sustained walking.
3. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU HAVE SUCCESSFULLY CLIMBED TOUBKAL:
The moment of celebration is not at the top, but on arrival in Imlil safe and sound. The second day is a very long day of walking, and it celebrates well with another night in Imlil or a glorious return to Marrakech.
It is not enough to reach the top, you have to know how to descend safely!
IMPORTANT TIPS ON PREPARING TO CLIMB TOUBKAL
EQUIPMENT TO CONSIDER FOR CLIMBING TOUBKAL
The equipment for climbing Toubkal is no different from good hiking equipment in general. That said, you have to make sure you have the right shoes for the nature of the terrain. Also consider the right equipment for hiking in the snow: snowshoes and waterproof clothing.
PHYSICAL PREPARATION FOR THE ASCENSION OF TOUBKAL
Even if the ascent of Toubkal is not a technically difficult adventure, you must be in good physical condition. This is by no means a climb to do as a first hike. In the months and weeks before the ascent, you should consider doing several short hikes to prepare your body.
GUIDE OR NOT GUIDE FOR CLIMBING TOUBKAL
A guide to climb Toubkal is not necessary for people who are used to hiking.
The path is straightforward, and the elevation is not difficult. When you are a beginner hiker, however, it is strongly advised that you hire the services of a guide. A guide could be very useful in case of problems and help to ensure maximum safety.
WHEN TO CLIMB TOUBKAL?
The ascent of Toubkal can be done in winter as in summer. Winter is more difficult and especially less all the time in view of the snowstorms.
1. RECOMMENDED PERIOD:
Climbing Toubkal is best done between April and October. It is necessary to find out, however, about the period of summer storms in August.
2. PERIOD TO AVOID:
In winter when there is heavy snowfall and in summer when there are rainstorms.