On this exceptional new adventure exclusive to National Geographic, we will follow trails through traditional villages to alpine pastures set beneath the impressive backdrop of the High Atlas. We will descend into lush green valleys with terraces and mud walled houses and cross high passes to absorb the impressive mountain landscape. Our goal on this trip is to attempt the two summits of Mt Toubkal and Ouanoukrim. Mt Toubkal (4167m) is the highest mountain in North Africa and Ouanoukrim is the second (4089m). The trek to the summit for both these mountains is challenging but non technical and does not require any mountaineering experience, however you will need a good level of fitness as trek days can be long and the terrain undulating with steep ascents and descents. On a clear day the panoramic views from the summits are spectacular. In the company of your muleteer and cook you will experience the traditional Berber hospitality.There is ample time to relax amongst the walnut trees, sipping mint tea and taking in the pace of life in the mountains. Our trip begins in Marrakesh, one of the most important artistic centres in the Islamic world and concludes in Essaouira, with its tranquil squares and cafes, narrow lanes and whitewashed houses set against an ocean backdrop. A wonderful way to end this extraordinary journey. We hope you can join us.
Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to the group hotel On arrival you will meet your Moroccan Guide and have a trip briefing before heading out to dinner.
Today you will have a half day walking tour of th city. In Marrakesh you will be led by an expert city guide (not your trek leader) to discover the soul of Marrakesh. You will explore the Bab ed Debbagh (city gate) the Medersa Ben Youssef (school of Islamic Studies). The Ben Youssef Medersa, an Islamic school attached to the Ben Youssef Mosque and is home to some of the most beautiful art and architecture in Marrakesh. You will then visit the souks, and finally the Koutoubia Mosque. In the evening after dinner you will have time to explore the Djemaa el-Fna. The atmosphere of this square is overwhelming with its jumble of food stalls, snake charmers, fortune and storytellers and the wide variety of people that flock to its attractions. Overnight Riad Slitane (or similar)
This morning you will meet your driver and guide in the hotel lobby and transfer towards the High Atlas Mountains. After approx. 1 ½ h of driving, you will reach the starting point of your trek. Here you will meet your muleteers, and your bags will be loaded onto the mules for transportation. You will start your trek and will soon ascend gently to the pass of Tizi n’Addi at an altitude of 2960 m. After a lunch rest you descend to the nice valley and village of Tacheddirt. Overnight village house. Approx. 4 hrs of walking
You start your day with a gentle ascent and enjoy a splendid view over the Imanene valley. From here you descend - with a few ups and downs - into the Imanene valley passing through several typical villages like Tinghourine and Ikkis. You will then ascend some 300 m of altitude to reach the Tizi n'Aguersioual at 2050 m . We descend to the village of Aguersioual before hiking to the village of Matate. Approx. 5:30 to 6 hrs of walking. Overnight village house
A short climb away is the Tizi n'Oudite pass at 2200 m (approx. 3:30 hrs). After enjoying the views you will descend into the Azzaden valley and walk through a juniper forest. You will soon come across great views out to the colourful villages of Id Aissa, Tizi Zougaghen and Tiziane . You continue your trek up the valley to the village of Id Aissa, notable for its mosque visible throughout the valley, and on to the village of Tizi Oussem. Approx. 5:30 hrs of walking Overnight village house
After breakfast you will leave Tizi Oussem and head up along the valley of Oussem. Slowly you will ascend up to Azib Iminouatss and follow the trail to the small and narrow pasture of Azib Tamsoult at 2160 m. Before lunch you will have a short visit to the waterfalls at Ighouliden, before continuing on for a further hour up to Azib Tzikert where the next overnight camp will be.
You will leave camp and walk for about 30 minutes where you will then find the large mule trail. You will follow this as you head to the mountain chains of Aguelzim, where you will find a zigzag trail that leads up a couloirs for 400m to the first pass. Here a panoramic view to Tizi Oussem and the Haouz plain can be seen. The trail ascends another 100m, before you reach the 3430m high pass of Tizi Aguelzim (approx. 4 hours of walking).You will have a great view to Djebel Toubkal before descending on the trail – rocky at first - to the Neltner camp (approx. 2 hours of descent). Tonight you will prepare for the summit tomorrow.
We will make an early start for our attempt on Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak for our 3-4 hour trek to the summit (4167m). First we must traverse long scree slopes; tiring terrain at this altitude and we must proceed slowly to conserve energy. Higher sections are more rocky and there is little vegetation. Once at the summit the views are spectacular, and although wind and cold conditions mean we will not linger long, we have time to enjoy the scenes of surrounding peaks of the Atlas mountains and down to the plains around Marrakesh far in the distance. We then begin the descent back, on the same route, to Neltner camp (3050m), where we will have a late lunch and enjoy a well earned rest after a hard days trekking.
Today will truly test your endurance and is only an option for those who are still feeling fit after Toubkal and well acclimatised. We climb from Neltner camp up in direction of Tizi n'Ouanoums, then follow the trail to Tizi n'Ouagane at 3780m. From this pass it is an approx. 20 minutes steep climb up to the ridge of the mountain, from where we follow the ridge to the summit at 4088m. The summit allows for a great panoramic view (if good weather) of the Toubkal summit, Tazararte plateau or even to Anti Atlas and Tizi n'Test region as well as the valley of Souss on a very clear day. We descend via the same route to the Tizi n'Ouagane. From here, if you are feeling fit and well acclimatized, we can climb another optional peak, the Igher n'Abdellai (approx. 1 hour in addition from/to the pass). From this summit we have a good view to the Lac Ifni (mountain Lake). Afterwards we head back to the pass and from here descend to Neltner camp for a well deserved lunch.
Today we descend down the valley, passing through the deeply religious village of Sidi Chamarouch. This area is also rich in wildflowers, and in spring we’ll find the magnificent Peony Rose. We will also pass herds of goats traversing precarious mountain trails. We continue to Imlil where our trekking ends (approx 4.5 hours walking). We will have a short transfer to an area en-rout to Ouirgane where we set up a private deluxe camp and enjoy a final celebratory dinner under the stars.
For a change of pace today we head to the peaceful Peninsula town of Essaouira (approx 4 hours drive). With its Greek-like whitewashed walls and its mixture of Portuguese, French and Berber fortifications, it has a completely different flavour to our previous destinations. Protected by the trade winds, Essaouira is a handicraft centre, particularly for artisans working with sandal, cedar and lemon wood. We will visit the city with our guide who will give you ideas of things you might like to do during your time at leisure in Essaouira. We can also take a relaxing walk along the Atlantic coastline. Fishing is another of the main industries of the town. The fresh catch is a specialty of the restaurants and the harbour side fish markets - either are a must for lunch. Overnight L’Heure Bleue, Essaouira
Today we have set aside for a full day at leisure to enjoy Essaouira. We will enjoy a farewell meal this evening at one of Essaouira's local restaurants. Overnight L’Heure Bleue, Essaouira
Today we transfer to Marrakech where our trip concludes.
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