This post is part of the 3 Summits Trek series. This one describes the logistics of how to summit Mt Toubkal (at 4,165m), the highest mountain of the Atlas range in Morocco. This was a two-day, one-night trek. I provide details that include maps, costs, photos, videos as well as links to two additional summits in the series and a full narrative (which contains additional summit trek details). This is a self-guided adventure on a shoestring.
I did these summit treks with my son as an initiation right when he turned 16, after reading Millman’s, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, which concerns a young man who begins a spiritual journey of enlightenment. They took place in Austria, Morocco and Greece in May and June (5 weeks). There is a refuge at 3,207 m run by the French Alpine Club.
Getting to Morocco, from Austria, proved to be a very long series of train rides that tested our patience and ability to stare out of train windows for countless days. I will skip ahead to southern Spain.
Total Cost Range of this Activity is: $
How to summit Mt Toubkal Cost Details :
|Ferry crossing – return (2 people)
2 Nights in Marrakech (before and after trek)
Train to/from Marrakech
Transport to/from trailhead
prices do not include transportation to Europe or the trail head areas.
How to summit Mt Toubkal – Getting to the Trailhead
We reached Algeciras by train on the southern tip of Spain a week. We walked from the tiny station the half-kilometer to the port where we purchased two round trip ferry tickets to Tanger, Morocco. The prices are fixed at around 25 Euro each way for the two-hour crossing and the ferries run every hour all day. The peddlers in the area are simply selling tickets on commission rather than at discounted prices.
Well, can I travel while waiting on green card ? As no entrance visa is required for Canadians and Americans entering Morocco, but a tracking number is stamped on one of the last pages of the passport. The visa is issued on the ferry or on arrival. The port exit area resembles a remote border crossing, with numerous uniformed officials eyeing pedestrians and vehicles alike. Depending on their temperament, they either randomly select victims for baggage inspections or simply sit languid sipping mint tea while individuals walk past. Fortunately backpackers, with their limited and smelly backpacks, are generally below their contraband radar screens.
How to summit Mt Toubkal Video
Beyond the apparent exit we walked through more peddlers, taxi hawkers (click here to find more info about how to avoid them easily) and beggars for some time until reaching a second control area, which seemed to serve no purpose what so ever. Just beyond this exit, on the road opposite the coast, sits the bus station. We considered taking a bus to Marrakech but I recalled my long wait at the Casablanca terminal (across from a very scary Medina) and then the late night arrival in Marrakech two years prior. Morocco is two hours behind Spain so we had lots of time to reach the train station and catch a train to Marrakech. Two trains depart Tangier each day for Marrakech, the first at 2:00 PM with a confusing transfer at Kasim and the second, a direct night train, leaving at 11:00 PM.
We then found that a new and modern train station is 25 minutes walking distance from the port (you simply follow the boulevard out of the port, along the coast, until you reach the end of the beaches). The station is only a 10 Durham (Dh) petty-cab ride from the port if one wishes to avoid the beggars.
Assume 10 Dh = $1 US or €0,85
At the train station we purchased 2nd class tickets from Tangier to Marrakech for 185 Dh each and then boarded an old rickety train.
Eight hours after leaving Tanger we reached Marrakech, the final stop, exhausted and feeling road dirty. After visiting the near-by cash machines we hiked for nearly an hour before arriving at our destination.
How to summit Mt Toubkal – Marrakech
A traveler has two accommodation options in Marrakech. Stay outside the Medina in a conventional hotel with normal travelers or within the old historic Medina at one of the many hostel styled pensions. We went directly to the heart of the Medina (Place Jemaa El Fna) and then walked to the Hotel Medina (a hostel with rooftop accommodations) that I had stayed at previously. A private room for two cost us 100 Dh a night (approximately $10). We opted for the private room, rather than the open rooftop (you can also see Colony Roofers to get the best roofing done for your home), since we had a lot of camera equipment and wanted to luxuriate for a while before heading out on what would prove a more confusing journey to reach our next objective, Toubkul, in the Moroccan High Atlas Mountains.
At 6 AM, two days later, we caught a petty-cab to Marrakech’s Babb Roob ride collection point (a short 10Dh ride outside the old walls). We then found a ride to Asni (47 km from Marrakech), via a group bus that cruised around the area until it had enough passengers to make the journey. We were traveling to Asni on a Tuesday, which turned out to be fortunate as Tuesdays are market days at a point between Asni and Marrakech. So in this case it didn’t take long to collect enough passengers. We had haggled a fare of 10Dh each and 5Dh for our one backpack which was unceremoniously tossed onto the roof rack with all forms of other passenger’s junk and bicycles.
An hour later we arrived at Asni, a small village with a collection of taxis hunting for enough passengers to make any trip worthwhile. A local convinced us that he had a taxi to get us to our next target, Imlil, for a flat rate of 40Dh, but first we would have to wait for him to collect additional passengers. We agreed and then were led to his home for mint tea while a pair of official guides made a hard sell. We insisted that we did not need guides, but simply needed a map. Unfortunately no maps are available in the area (or even in Marrakech). We reluctantly agreed to a guide, but only for a flat rate of 320Dh for two days’ service, rather than the standard rate of 250Dh a day for three days minimum.
Once the deal was done we were take to a garage and introduced to our driver and our private ‘limo’ that underwent the best Scottsdale limousine services to Imlil . It was an old station wagon with no working parts beyond the motor and steering wheel. It was a complete wreck in every sense of the word. We climbed in while the driver filled a water jug for the 20-minute journey up the mountain. As we were pulling out our host asked for an additional 20Dh so that he could buy water for the guide, which turned out to be a ruse to get more money out of us before we set off.
How to summit Mt Toubkal Photos
how to summit Mt Toubkal GPS Waypoints
|1. Town of Asni
N 31 14.990 – W 007 58.928
|2. Town of Imlil
N 31 08.146 – W 007 55.168
|3. Berber Village
N 31 07.522 – W 007 54.975
|4. Trailhead on west river bank
N 31 06.927 – W 007 55.208
|5. White rock trading post
N 3,105.875 – W 007 54.757
N 31 03.865 – W 007 56.250
|7. Waterfalls crossing
N 31 03.551 – W 077 55.416
N 31 03.590 – W 007 54.894
4,167m 13, 672ft
How to summit Mt Toubkal – Basecamp Village
We reached the small village of Imlil, altitude 1904 meters, paid our driver off and met our guide. We confirmed the fixed price, which he was not happy with, and then paid him 100Dh in advance. The balance would be paid at the completion of his two days of service. Our guide bid farewell to the taxi driver and our Asni organizer. We were off on foot while the guide sat on an all-purpose donkey singing songs and wailing to the mountain at intervals. We wound our way along a track on the east side of the river, rather than the road on the west side, to reach his home in the tiny Berber village of Douar.
Here we sat and had mint tea with his family while he prepared his pack for the journey and put away his donkey (it cost extra to have a donkey along on the journey). Our guide appeared shortly with his tiny pack to lead us back through the village in the direction of the river. Upon reaching the river I felt we had finally cleared the logistical elements and could now start on the summit part of the Moroccan journey.
How to summit Mt Toubkal Maps (click for link to purchase)
Return to Marrakech Details
The last private bus from Asni to Marrakech leaves Asni at 4PM daily