The Toubkal Massif, enclosing the High Atlas’s highest peaks, is the target destination of nearly everyone who goes trekking in Morocco. You can reach trailhead villages in just two hours from Marrakesh, and the main walking routes are easily followed. Walking just a short distance from the most common starting point – Imlil – you are transported to a very different world. Mountain villages offer a stark contrast to the previous roadside towns, with Berber houses, stacked one on top of another in apparently organic growth, appearing to sprout from the rocks. The local population is immediately distinct from their city compatriots; the women dress in brilliant attire even when working in the fields.
In summer, Jebel Toubkal (4167m), the highest peak in North Africa, is walkable right up to the summit; if you’re pushed for time, you could climb it and be back in Marrakesh in three days – though at some risk of altitude sickness. Alternatively, if you feel unable to tackle an ascent of Toubkal, it’s possible to have a genuine taste of the mountains by spending time exploring the lesser-visited valleys accessible from Imlil or Aroumd.Read More
- Climbing Toubkal
IMLIL is currently the most frequented starting point for those going up to the top of Toubkal. Just past Asni, the road begins to climb; below it the valley of the Oued Rhirhaia unfolds, while above, small villages crowd onto the rocky slopes. Halfway up the valley, at a roadside café, there is a sudden good view of Toubkal. As you emerge at Imlil the air feels quite different – silent and rarefied at 1740m. Paths head off in all directions among the valleys, making this region a walker’s paradise.
Imlil is little more than a roadside settlement, with shops and plenty of small guesthouses and hotels along the main thoroughfare. It’s a good spot to get supplies, hire a guide, or spend the night to get your bearings in the region. It’s not worth spending much more than one day here, however, given the much more appealing villages that are scattered just beyond it.
If you want to make an early start for the Toubkal refuges and the ascent of Toubkal, Imlil village makes a better trailhead than Asni, as is Aroumd; it’s possible to make it to the basecamp from Imlil in one day.
AROUMD (also called Armed or Aremd) is the largest village of the Mizane Valley, an extraordinary looking place, built on a huge moraine spur above the valley at 1840m. Steep-tiered fields of potatoes, onions, barley and various kinds of fruit line the valley sides, their terraces edged with purple iris. The village is used as a base or overnight stop by a number of trekking companies, and several houses have been converted to well-equipped gîtes.