IP-Trek 2011 (Morocco: Altas Mountains-Marrakech-Essaouira)
The Atlas Mountains contain Africa's second highest peak, Toubkal 4167m (13,668 ft), and they extend over 2400km (1500mi) in length from Morocco to Algeria. In age they compare to the European Alps. They are home to Berber farmers and shepherds.
In advance of our trek in the High Atlas mountains, we will meet in Morocco’s “pink city”, Marrakech, which was founded in the 11th century on the crossroads of the ancient camel caravan routes from Timbuktu. Marrekech was once the imperial capital of an empire that stretched from Spain to Senegal.
September 11, 2011 DAY 1: ARRIVE MARRAKECH
On arrival in Marrakech you are met and transferred to your traditional Riad in the old medina.
September 12, 2011 DAY 2: MARRAKECH
In the morning we visit the Museum of Marrakech, the brilliant theological college of Medersa Ibn Ben Youssef and the charming 19th century Bahia Palace. After time for lunch we see the medieval tanneries at Bab Debbagh (bring a gas mask!) and the balance of the afternoon is free to explore the souk. This evening we visit the great square, Jemaa el Fna, which comes alive after dusk. We have the option of eating dinner here tonight. (B)
September 13, 2011 DAY 3: MARRAKECH-IMLIL
This morning we visit the charming Maison Tiskiwin, once the home of a Dutch anthropologist and now an impressive museum filled with artefacts from Morocco and the Sahara. We then drive to the ‘modern’ area of the city to see the Majorelle Gardens. After time for lunch the balance of the day is free to explore the old Medina. (B)
September 14, 2011 DAY 4: MARRAKECH-ASNI-IMOUGHLAD-Tizi n’TACHT COL
Today it’s an early start and around 8.00am we leave Marrakech with our trekking guide and all the provisions for our Toubkal adventure. A tarred road takes us to Asni, where we turn onto a dirt road leading to the village of Imioughlad (1400m). Here we meet our team of muleteers, and our cook, and after a few minutes to prepare we set off through the village and up towards Tizi n’Tacht (2000m). Along the way we stop to enjoy a lovely view of the villages below and then walk through a forest of Red Juniper and Holm Oak before reaching the col. From here we enjoy a view to the south towards Tigouga and Taroudant, and to the north towards Mt. Angour and Oukaimden. After a short break we descend to a natural spring where we can refill our water bottles. Our mules and muleteers re-join us here and a little later we stop for the night. Duration: 4 ½ hours walking. (BLD)
September 15, 2011 DAY 5: TIZIANE-TIZI n’TEOUTI-AZIB n’TIZGUI
Waking around 6.00am we enjoy a hearty breakfast and after breaking camp we begin to climb, shaded at first by massive walnut trees. We emerge into the sunshine and pass through the shepherd hamlet of Tiziane before crossing a Juniper forest as we ascend to Tizi n’Teouti (2400m). Descending again into forest we reach Assaka, where we stop for lunch close to a natural water source. In the afternoon we ascend to the charming village of Tizgui, known for its mills and well off the beaten track. From this picturesque spot a two-hour hike brings us to the hamlet of Azib n’Tizgui where there is abundant fresh water for a good wash. We return to Tizgui for the night. Duration: 6 hours of walking. (BLD)
September 16, 2011 DAY 6: TIZGUI-TIZI n’TOUGDAL-AZIB n’TAMSOULT
Today we walk through some of the most beautiful and wild landscapes of the Toubkal region. We begin with a leisurely ascent towards the plateau of Tazaghart. This is the domain of shepherds and we will probably encounter some of them with their herds. All around we enjoy spectacular views, including Mt. Toubkal and the surrounding peaks. A long descent, partly through forest, brings us to our lunch spot under the shade of giant 100-year old walnut trees at the edge of Azaden River. We are now in one of the most beautiful valleys of the Toubkal region and after time to rest we continue our hike, ascending to Azib n’Tamsoult (2250) for our overnight camp. Duration: 6 hours of walking (BLD)
September 17, 2011 DAY 7: AZIB n’TAMSOULT-TIZI n’AGUELZIM-BASE CAMP
Today is a good day of preparation for our ascent of Toubkal. We ascend very gradually, through imposing and wild landscapes, in the direction of Tizi n’Tizikert, then turn towards the refuge of Lepiney, located in the valley of Timellite with a good water supply. We may stop for lunch here or, if everyone is feeling strong, we continue our ascent and have a late lunch at the end of today’s stage. At times the path is uneven and in due course we reach Tizi n’Aquelzim, at 3450m. From here we enjoy a wonderful view of Toubkal before making the long descent to Nelter Camp (3207m) for a late lunch and a well-deserved cup of mint tea. Duration: 6½ hours of walking. (BLD)
September 18, 2011 DAY 8: SUMMIT OF TOUBKAL-IMLIL
We leave around 6.00am and make a slow ascent towards the summit of Mt.Toubkal. It is not a technical climb but the path can be a little unstable at times, with lots of loose rubble. We stop two or three times for snacks and drinks and expect to be at the summit (4167m) by around 9.00am, where we enjoy a wonderful view of the entire Atlas range spread out before us. After time for photographs we descend to our camp, via another path, where we stop for lunch. We then make a long descent to the trailhead village of Imlil and along the way we pass the celebrated shrine of Sidi Chemharouch, a local saint known for curing illnesses and disease. We spend the night in a Berber house. Duration: 7½ hours of walking. (BLD)
Overnight: Berber house
September 19, 2011 DAY 9: Tizi n’TAMATERT-AGUER SIOUAL-ESSAOUIRA
We spend our last day exploring our immediate surroundings. Leaving our bags and our mules at Imlil we enjoy a circular walk, first to Tizi n’Tamatert (2300m) before descending to the beautiful Iimenane valley. Turning north we pass through the Berber villages of Teneghrine, Ikkis and Amsakrou and then head west to the village of Aguer Sioual where we stop for lunch. The walk takes about five hours and allows us discover another superb valley full of charming Berber villages.
After lunch we head back to Imlil, collect our bags and then transfer to Essaouira
, which we expect to reach around 6.00pm. Our traditional Riad is located right in the heart of the old Medina. Duration: 5 hours of walking. (BL)
September 20, 2011 DAY 10 ESSAOUIRA
Today is completely free to explore this delightful seaside town. Popular with hippies in the 1970’s, one of its most famous visitors was Jimi Hendrix, whose photos still adorn several local bars! There’s a small museum and the busy fish markets are well worth a visit. Needless to say, the seafood here is excellent and there are numerous restaurants to try. (B)
September 21, 2011 DAY 11 ESSAOUIRA-MARRAKECH
This morning you are transferred to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
IP-Trek 2011(Morocco): Detailed Itinerary
IP-Trek 2011(Morocco): Local Information
IP-Trek 2011(Morocco): Mt. Toubkal Trek and Equipment List