Knowing exactly how to explore Toubkal National Park and what to expect can be intimidating. Here is our Complete Travel Guide to prepare you for an experience of a lifetime.
Tyson Peveto is an American travel writer living abroad since 2017. After three years in Bangkok, he currently lives in Germany with his wife and dog.
Heading south from Marrakech, you will soon enter into the High Atlas mountains, the separation between the Mediterranean coastal regions and the Sahara. About 50 miles (80 km) outside of Marrakech is the Toubkal National Park and the highest peak in North Africa: Jbel Toubkal.
Toubkal National Park, or Parc National du Jbel Toubkal in French, is the perfect destination to get out of the North African heat and to breathe in the fresh mountain air. The park offers plenty of attractions for tourists, from multi-day hikes to rural villages and even an ecomuseum on the main road leading into the park.
Most trips will begin the hike at the town of Imlil, where temperatures will be similar to the impressive heat of Marrakech. But as you head up the mountain and get to around the 10,000 feet elevation level, the air will suddenly turn cool and crisp. If you continue into the second day to reach the summit, you will be rewarded with incredible views of the surrounding valleys and, depending on the time of year, snow and ice.
Four our complete travel guide to Toubkal National Park, we have collected the best tours to visit this area, since a guide is required for hiking. We’ll start with the single-day trips and work our way up to longer experiences. Depending on your budget and length of holiday, you’ll be able to select the perfect trip for exploration of the High Atlas mountains.
Atlas Mountains & 5 Valleys Day Tour from Marrakech
If you’re staying in Marrakech and only have one day to explore Toubkal National Park, a tour like this is perfect. They leave from a centralized departure point in Marrakech and will drive you along the scenic mountain roads around Jbel Toubkal. You’ll get to see traditional Berber villages and even have an opportunity to eat a meal with a local family.
In the Asni Valley, you’ll have a great view of Jbel Toubkal and plenty of chances for photos. The valley is covered in apple, walnut, peach, and almond groves. Short hikes around Takerkoust Lake and the Kik Plateau can also be included as an upgrade.
Full-Day Tour from Marrakech to the Imlil & Toubkal Valley
For those wanting to focus more on hiking around the foot of Jbel Toubkal, this is the tour for you. Starting off with a pickup from your hotel, your guide will drive you straight into the Imlil Valley for a mint tea before beginning the hike. Your trek will provide views of snow-capped mountains and Berber villages with joining a local family for a traditional lunch.
While serious hikers might be more focused on reaching the summit of Jbel Toubkal, a tour like this provides a more rounded experience and a chance to appreciate the incredibly beautiful scenery of this area. Don’t worry, they’ll bring you back to your hotel!
Imlil and Kasbah du Toubkal Day Tour from Marrakech
While providing a chance to explore the same areas as the last tour, this one has something unique: an option to hire a mule or horse to ride through the trails. What a way to explore the remote villages that are set high amongst the High Atlas mountains and Jbel Toubkal. If you book this tour on a Tuesday or Saturday, you also have the opportunity to explore a local market with your guide.
Imlil Guided Tour
If your time is a bit limited, this tour is a quick 5-hour experience in and around Imlil, the village on the outskirts of Toubkal National Park. Your guide will offer up as much information as you want about the area, its Berber traditions, and the surrounding mountains. If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to have tea or lunch with a local family.
Toubkal Mount in 2 Day Trekking From Marrakech
For a two-day trip, you mainly have two options: to head straight to the summit of Jbel Toubkal and back or to stay in the valleys and explore the villages surrounding the mountain. This tour is for those wanting to reach the summit.
Starting in Imlil, you’ll load your gear up on the mules and trek up to the refuge, a resting place on the way to the summit. After a night of camping, an early morning trek of 3 to 4 hours will bring you to the summit and its incredible views of Ifni Lake to the south, the plains of Haouz to the north, and an endless horizon of desert.
2 Days Atlas Mountains Trek
Some people might not have the desire to reach the summit or are looking for a bit less strenuous of a trek. This tour is a great option. They will pick you up at your Marrakech hotel and drive an hour into Toubkal National Park before starting your two-day hike.
The group will consist of a local guide, mule drivers, and a cook. You will have the chance to explore Tizi n’Tacht Pass with impressive views of the Imlil and Azzaden valleys. After an overnight stay at a Berber lodge in Tizi Oussem village, your second day will bring you through Tizi Mzik Pass before heading down into the Imlil valley for lunch and your ride back to Marrakech.
3 Day Trek from Marrakech To Climb Mount Toubkal in Morocco
Giving yourself three or more days in Toubkal National Park guarantees you the opportunity to truly experience everything this area has to offer. On a tour like this, you’ll make your way up Jbel Toubkal at a slower pace, taking two days to get to the Toubkal Refuge.
But just like the two-day tours, the last day will be spent reaching the summit in the morning and then working your way back down to Imlil afterward. The tour also includes pick up and drop off from your hotel in Marrakech.
3-Days High Atlas Mountains Hiking Tour from Marrakech
Skipping out on summiting Jbel Toubkal offers you the chance to spend your time up close and personal with the Berber villages and the nature provided by Toubkal National Park. You’ll trek amongst mountain passes, dramatic gorges, and impressive forests and groves of pine, juniper, and walnut.
The villages you’ll be visiting are Imlil, Tinerhourhine, and Aït Aïssa, and you’ll also reach a height of 7,874 feet for stunning views of the surrounding valleys. Expect opportunities to meet and learn from local villages and to eat delicious meals consisting of local dishes.
7-Day Jebel Toubkal – Hiking Tour from Marrakech
If you have the time and the desire, a trip like this would be a life-changing experience. This tour begins from the moment you arrive at the airport with someone picking you up and bringing you to your Marrakech hotel. The second day they’ll bring you to the trailhead to start your four full days of trekking through the High Atlas mountains and up to the peak of Jbel Toubkal. With more time hiking than the previous tours, you’ll get to explore mule trails that most tourists never see, visiting villages and seeing incredible gorges off the usual beaten path.
Be sure you’re ready for the challenge and adventure of this trip. Two nights will be spent in a tent, one night in a mountain refuge, and one night in a local village. Outside of Toubkal National Park, your nights will be spent in a Marrakech hotel. All meals on the trek will be freshly prepared by the cook on your team. You’ll see waterfalls, native wildlife, Berber villages, and much more on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Complete Travel Guide to Toubkal National Park wouldn’t be “complete” without some safety guidelines and precautions. The ascent up Jbel Toubkal from Imlil isn’t technically difficult but can present challenges.
The climate changes quickly as you ascend which means steep slopes and possible altitude sickness. On the morning you’re planning on reaching the summit, set off as early as possible so you can avoid as much time in the sun as possible. There are only rocks and absolutely no shade, but you still need to dress warmly.
If at any time, you experience severe headaches or vomiting, let your guide know immediately. You will most likely need to descend as soon as possible to reach a lower altitude. At no point should you lie down to sleep on the hike, however tempting it might be.
Late April to the end of June is a great time to visit. The flowers will be in bloom in April and May and once you’re in June, daytime temperatures warm up nicely. From November to May, expect temperatures to drop below freezing and for the higher peaks and passes to be covered in snow. During these months, only lower-valley walking is recommended unless your tour includes ropes and crampons to handle the ice and snow of the higher peaks.
Midsummer offers hikers snow-free trails and long daylight hours (except for possible snow still on the peak of Jbel Toubkal). During these months, the temperatures in the lower valleys can be incredibly hot and water is difficult to find. After the summer thunderstorms, there are chances of flash flooding. Your guide will know where best to camp to avoid any possibility of flooding. July and August are also the busiest months for tourists visiting Toubkal National Park.
No matter how many days you give yourself in Toubkal National Park or what tour you choose to explore the area, this trip will be an experience of a lifetime. Our Complete Travel Guide to Toubkal National Park is here to better prepare you for this incredible opportunity to see the highest mountain in Morocco and all of North Africa.