What’s it like to hike up Morocco’s Mount Toubkal? NYC-based photographer Matt Dutile recently tackled the mountain, and came back with these amazing photos. Follow him on his journey as he braves wind, rain, cold and sore muscles, and experiences incredible views and traditional villages along the way.
Weather on Toubkal can be unpredictable, and after a rainy start to our hike we stopped at the small village of Sidi Chamharouch for a lunch break and to dry our gear under cover. It’s best to come prepared with cold weather and water repellant gear in case conditions change rapidly.
A thick cloud cover lays over our ascent from Imlil to Sidi Chamharouch. The beginning ascent before lunch is a very gradual climb up a well-trodden path where donkeys and other pack animals can be seen ferrying gear up to the village and for groups of hikers.
Scree and moss patches cover most of the initial first day ascent of Toubkal. Goats can often be seen bouncing rock to rock, grazing on some of the more tender mosses. While many locals and guides scale Toubkal in a day, most tourists make it a two-day trip to accommodate to the altitude.
Jagged rock and a heavy fog can give parts of Toubkal an almost otherworldly feel. As Toubkal is a moderate hike, no actual climbing equipment is needed, and most people in adequate shape shouldn’t have a problem bagging Northern Africa’s highest peak.
An early, pre-dawn departure from the Toubkal Refuge will put you at the peak of Toubkal (4167m) just as the sun crests the horizon. Be sure to layer up as temperatures are well below freezing at this time as evidenced by the snow and frozen together rocks.
Though it’s not necessary to book a guide for Toubkal, costs are relatively inexpensive and the experience of a knowledgeable guide are well worth it. Do your research beforehand and you’ll find a variety of companies to choose from, for every level of experience.
7137 – On a clear day the views from Toubkal are truly breath-taking. While the cold and very, very early wake-up are a bit painful, the reward of watching the sun break across the horizon from the roof of Northern Africa is justly worth the effort.
Many of the peaks surrounding Toubkal are on well-trodden paths. Hikers can book several nights accommodation at the Toubkal Refuge and make one or more ascents a day, depending on their experience and fitness. Here, the sun starts grazing the tops of each peak on our descent from the summit.
Grabbing a quick lunch while looking down and the Toubkal Refuge. Accommodations within are simple but comfortable, and some groups opt for their own tents. Hikers are nearly arm-to-arm with rows of neighbors in bunk-bed style rooms. Common lounges downstairs are a place to warm up by a fire with a hot meal.
Tucked within the grooves of the Atlas Mountains, Imlil is the traditional starting point for any Toubkal trek. The traditional Berber village is also the starting point for other Atlas explorations that can last anywhere from an additional day to a week or more.