Route Description for walking/trekking up Mount Toubkal (Djebel Toubkal), 4170m, without using a guide (very simple guide to follow with little chance of getting lost)

This is a description of how to climb/trek/walk up Mount Toubkal (the highest mountain in North Africa) in Morroco's Atlas Mountains, 4170m via the most direct route of from Imlil to the mountain hut and then the South Col route. The path is very obvious in summer, expecially if you ask people just in case, and most of the time there is only one path to follow anyway. The mountain is clear of snow in summer but can be very cold on top. Some people may suffer from the altitude but you are not very high for long so most people should be fine. No guide is needed.

Imlil to huts: 7 miles, 5500 feet of ascent (11.4 km, 1700m of ascent)

Huts to Mount Toubkal summit: 2.4 miles, 3300 feet of ascent (3.6 km, 1000m of ascent)

KML files: ToubkalImlilToHut.kml and ToubkalHutToSummit.kml

TCX Files: ToubkalImlilToHut.tcx and ToubkalHutToSummit.tcx

Arriving in Marrakesh and getting to Jemma el Fna (the centre)

Arriving in Marrkesh airport, head straight to the airport bus that is behind and to the left of the taxis in front of the airport exit. The airport bus (number 19) costs 20 DH to the centre (which is the only place tourists go to and the driver will tell you when you have arrived). Otherwise argue with the taxi drivers who will tell you that the price is 200 DH even though the fixed price is 50 DH and there is a sign that explains it all. Just go hassle free on a bus ride that takes you straight to the centre (Jemma el Fna) in 15 minutes and runs every 30 minutes from 6:30am to 9:00pm. (If you want to use a taxi then tell the police at the airport doors about the overcharging and they will force them to use the correct price - I asked them about it on the way back.)

Airport bus just beyond taxi rank:

It drops you off and picks you up between these bus stops after 15 minutes. Head straight across the park (shown) to the other side which is Jemma el Fna (also called La Place).

If you haven't round a hotel, go into the main square, turn right just after the post office (La Poste) and then turn left down the next small alleyway. There is a hotel called "Hotel Central Palace" there but if you then pass it and turn right and then left and follow the alley you will find at least 10 to 15 other hotels of various prices until you get to the other end at "Jnane Mogador" hotel. (I stayed in the "Sindi Sud" hotel which was basic but clean, also the "Hotel Central Palace" which was nicer but more expensive.)

Mount Toubkal route description

First, go to Bab er-Rob taxi rank in Marrakesh, and get a grand taxi (or bus) to Imlil - 1.5 hours drive on good roads. Arrive early (eg 7am) to share with other people. Pay a maximum of 150 DH for the whole taxi - be prepared to be ripped off by nearly everyone in Morocco especially the taxi drivers. The taxi rank is 1km south west along the road from the Bab er-Rob gate (further out than the Lonely Planet shows it, not on the roundabout but along that road heading south west). A 20 DH small taxi will take you there from the centre (start walking and they will reduce the fare to 20 anyway). It would only take 20-30 minutes to walk from the centre anyway but you'll have lots of walking to do later so maybe a taxi is best at this stage.

When you get to Imlil there is a parking area on the left of the road where the taxis park. There is also a guides office and CAF (Club Alpin Francaise) hut with many other hotels. Walk to the top of the street until the sharp turning below, ignoring the green sign that mentions Toubkal Park along the short road straight ahead.

The road goes steeply up hill and bends left then right. On your left after about 100m you will see the following path to take (signed to "Kasbah do Toubkal" on the small green sign attached to the building on the left, slightly up the path):

Go up the path and concrete steps until you get to the following small settlement and shops, continue up the right hand side along the path.

Very shortly after this you get to a water channel, cross over at the following place (obvious, especially with the green and yellow park sign there)

Immediately after the previous junction, start heading up hill on zig-zags (some marked with white and red paint) to the very top and the road junction shown below. Turn left to head to the village (Aroumd). If you missed the previous junction then cross the river on a bridge and head up hill to and beyond the Aroumd village.

As you go round a corner near to the village you will see a bridge on your left and a turn off to the bridge. Do not go over the bridge but go straight ahead instead into the big wide valley:

(Do not go over the following bridgeto the village, go straight ahead into the main wide valley instead):

Along the road you will get to a small group of houses and shops, head left here and then head rightwards along the right hand side of the valley (looking up)

The big wide stoney valley opens up. Head to the far side at the top of the valley. Walk on the right until you find the obvious track diagonally across it.:

At the far side of the valley the steep walking starts. Go up the obvious path past a couple of signs, a house and water channel:

Eventually after a steep climb and a long traverse, you come to Sidi Chamharouch, a small set of shops and houses over a concrete bridge. Pass the village on the big path on the right of all the houses (including the shop slightly higher up) - you don't need to go along the path through the shops. (The photo is taken from the concrete bridge.)

Follow the obvious path to the two main mountain huts which are next to each other, passing a small shop and several small streams on the way. If in doubt of which path to follow, then follow the one with horse manure on it, but they should all go to the same place! The path to hut from Imlil takes most people take 5 to 6 hours and is easier in the early morning because of the reduced heat and sun.

The lowest hut (Les Mouflons) is the newest one and nicer with better toilet facilities (toilets on the same level as the dormitory bedrooms). The price starts at 100DH for a night but will easily be reduced to 80DH. The CAF hut is fixed at 92DH in high season and less in low season - there is a notice inside that tells you this. You can click on the links to reserve or just turn up in the quiet seasons - they'll never leave you out in the cold so take a sleeping bag and you'll be fine if not comfortable - blankets are not provided.

The next morning go up the mountain itself. There is only one area of tricky route-finding (though if you get lost then the only problem is that you get more tired and lose time from not going the easiest path.)

Looking up from the hut you can see the big valley to go up above you, on the left as you look up the valley (you can only see the first part of the valley from this viewpoint). The key thing is to follow the path that leftwards when part way up it and not go directly up the loose rocks. Also you should start going across the main scree (loose rocks) slope from high up on the right as the following pictures show (not directly up the slope). You will probably see people coming down while you are at the hut so make note of where they go.

Start by leaving the higher CAF hut on the main path up the valley which after 20 metres goes off left to cross the stream:

Then follow the path and cairns to cross some rocks and go up the right hand side of the main scree slope before starting to cross it leftwards.

When you start going across the scree diagonally leftwards, the crucial part is to keep crossing it further than you would normally think until you get to the large rocks highlighted. From the top of them there is a solid path that goes leftwards horizontally then bypasses the very loose and tiring scree that goes straight up. You will see people going straight up but they are going the more tiring way. The correct path is off to the left and originally doesn't look like the correct way but follow the obvious path with cairns and you'll follow it back upwards again.

Follow the path marked with cairns (small piles of rocks) leftwards and back right over the rocks - easy but looks hard from a distance.

Then follow the obvious path up and up and up. Following the cairns at all times shows you the easiest path even if there are other options that work. Eventually you will enter a large bowl of rock with Toubkal at the top and back. Head rightwards on the main path to the col before going up the ridge to the very top. (Some people cut the corner and don't go to the col but this is steeper and less solid.)

When you get nearer the top and can see the metal triangle on top, do not go along the very top of the ridge but walk along the obvious paths on the left of the ridge. Keep going on paths on the left until you get to the top. This normally takes people 3-4 hours from the hut.

Reversing the route is easier than going up, physically but also because the path is much more obvious from above. You can easily walk back to the hut and down to Imlil and get a taxi back to Marrakesh in one day. The taxis now cost more than before (200 DH) but that is because they have you trapped by then. Go and have a fresh orange juice from the main square for 3 DH (ask for one without ice if you don't want it watered down).