MOROCCO - Mount Toubkal Ascent • Trek 9–11 hours • Camping • All meals included Getting off

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    Sunday 18 October–Sunday 25 October 2020

  • The Atlas Mountains Trek Although only a short flight from the UK, Morocco truly is another world. Twice our size, but with only half the population, much of Morocco is a desolate desert and a vast wilderness of towering mountains, where rural life has changed little over centuries.

    At the centre of this landscape lies Mount Toubkal – North Africa’s highest peak standing at 4,167m (two-thirds the size of Kilimanjaro). In its foothills are numerous villages largely unaffected by the changes that have taken place in Morocco’s lowland country and cities over the past few decades. With their traditional architecture intact, these villages cling to the side of mountains, seemingly carved into the rock in layers of terraces that appear to defy gravity. It is through this glorious uncharged panorama that we trek to the summit of Toubkal or, as it is locally known, Adrar’n’dem – Mountain of Mountains.

    The first European ascent of Toubkal was made in 1923. Before then, the High Atlas Mountains had been barely penetrated by western climbers. Largely unmapped, the indigenous Berber people violently repelled all attempts to “open up” their mountains. Today, Toubkal is a bucket-list climb for many and the Berber people warmly welcome all those who come to explore their land.

  • Jewish heritage in Marrakesh

    With its mountains and desert, beach resorts and Berber villages, Morocco is a feast for travellers of all kinds, including those who want to explore the kingdom’s deep Jewish roots. The presence of Jews in Morocco stretches back more than 2,000 years. Before the founding of Israel in 1948, estimates put the number of Jewish inhabitants between 275,000 and 300,000. This was considered the largest Jewish community in North Africa and the Muslim world, with Marrakesh at the base of the Atlas Mountains being home to approximately 50,000 Jewish people.

    The Jewish people received relatively kind treatment under the sultans owing to their usage of the jiyza system, whereby they were left alone as long as they paid their taxes. The community played a prominent role in Moroccan life until the formation of the state of Israel when large numbers left to resettle in the Jewish state.

    Today there are thought to be less than 100 Jews in Marrakesh, although a very noticeable physical and cultural legacy has been left by the community. Indeed, although the Jewish quarter (“mellah”) no longer contains any Jewish people, it is still named as such.

    There are a few synagogues still functioning in the mellah and the best known is Salat Al Azama (Lazama) (www. Built during the early 1900s, it is not the first synagogue on this site. In fact, those escaping the Spanish Inquisition built the original synagogue here in 1492. The building contains a typical Moroccan enclosed courtyard and the synagogue itself. There are many pictures, photos, artefacts and documents reflecting the life of the Moroccan Jewish community through the 19th and 20th centuries. Known as the “synagogue of the exiles”, Salat Al Azama (Lazama) hosted generations of young Berbers who converted to Judaism and were sent from villages in the region to learn the Torah, before finally

    being deserted in the 1960s. The once teeming Jewish area of the Moroccan tourist gem Marrakesh is seeing its fortunes revived as visitors, including many from Israel, flock to experience its unique culture and history.

    There is also a historic Jewish cemetery to be found in Marrakesh, locally known as the Miara, which again is an indicator of Jewish cultural heritage in the area. All of these things contribute to the historical and cultural aspects of Marrakesh that make it one of the most vibrant and interesting cities to visit in the world

  • ITINERARY 8 days • 4 days cycling • 3 nights camping • Joint end-of-Challenge celebration with cyclists



    Highlights • Bucket-list climb of North Africa’s highest peak

    • Start and finish in the vibrant city of Marrakesh

    • Experience the famous Berber hospitality

    • Joint end-of-Challenge celebration with our cyclists – also out in Morocco

    • Explore the Jewish quarter of Marrakesh with its Moroccan and Sephardi Jewish history

    • Share the experience with the people we support

    Day 1: Sunday 18 October London to Marrakesh Depart London to Marrakesh with a one-hour transfer to our hotel. Meet our guides over dinner for a full Challenge briefing on the adventure ahead.

    Day 2: Monday 19 October Marrakesh to Azib n’Tamsoult • Trek 5 hours • Camping • All meals included

    After an early breakfast, we head out for a one-and-a-half hour transfer across Le Haouz plain to the start of our trek at Imlil at 1,740m. Meeting up with our guides and mules, we cross the village of Imlil and head west to climb the Tizi-n-Mezzik which, at a height of 2,450m, offers our first glimpse of the amazing views of the Atlas Mountains. We refuel with a picnic lunch before another climb and our first night of camping at Azib n’Tamsoult.

  • Day 3: Tuesday 20 October Azib n’Tamsoult to Mount Toubkal Base Camp • Trek 6–7 hours • Camping • All meals included

    Today involves a fairly steep climb out of the juniper forests of the Azzaden Valley to the Toubkal refuge, over the Aguelzim mountain pass at 3,600m. We enjoy a magnificent mountain backdrop during our lunch today, before we continue to our camp below the Toubkal Hut, where base camp is established in preparation for the climb to the summit the following day. Our guides prepare a hearty meal while we make use of the simple facilities, including showers, a shop and a cosy lounge, and enjoy the convivial company of our fellow trekkers.

    Day 4: Wednesday 21 October Mount Toubkal Ascent • Trek 9–11 hours • Camping • All meals included

    Getting off to an early start, we enjoy a long but magnificent day of trekking as we head towards the summit of Toubkal (4,167m) and superb panoramic views. It will be cold on the mountain this early in the morning but at least we miss the later heat. Armed with head torches, we trek along well- trodden, rocky/boulder-strewn tracks that twist their way up the mountain. We gain altitude steadily as we slowly climb up through a hanging valley with dramatic landscapes all around us. There are some steep shale sections here, and we may start to find some snow. We will also see increasingly stunning views and the last section of the climb ahead of us. The last hour is tough, but all our efforts will seem worth it when we reach the summit and can finally revel in our sense of achievement. We descend by the same route, spending a second night at basecamp.

    Note: For those who do not want to attempt the summit of Toubkal, there is an alternative walk from base camp to the pass of Tizi n’Ouannoums (3,660m) and back to camp. This is approximately 3–4 hours of moderate walking.



    route profile

    route profile

  • Day 5: Thursday 22 October Toubkal Base Camp to Marrakesh • Trek 4–5hrs • Hotel • All meals included

    Today, after breakfast, we retrace our steps and descend out of the Atlas Mountains and back to the village of Imlil where we meet our transfer vehicles that will take us back to Marrakesh.

    Once we have checked into our rooms and enjoyed the luxury of a good shower and other facilities, there’s time to explore this incredible city with its vibrant souks in the medina (old town) and the bustling Jemaa el-Fnaa square, alive with food stalls, musicians and snake charmers. Alternatively, a visit to the famous historical site of Medersa Ben Youssef or the Koutoubia Mosque will give you a glimpse of the stunning Islamic architecture found in Morocco. In the evening, we’ll have our own trekking celebration ahead of the cyclists arriving into Marrakesh tomorrow.

    Day 6: Friday 23 October Free day in Marrakesh • Hotel • Breakfast and celebration dinner

    This morning, we’ve organised a fabulous tour of the famous Majorelle Gardens – one of the most visited sites in Morocco and a stunning 2.5 acre botanical garden and artists landscape formed in 1923. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy Marrakesh, but don’t wander too far as it would be great if you are all at the hotel ready to greet our cyclists arriving in from their Challenge today. We’ll hopefully connect with the synagogue in Marrakesh and walk over together to see in the Sabbath in a more traditional setting. Dinner in a local restaurant for all, where we’ll celebrate our achievements into the early morning.



    route profile

    route profile

  • Day 7: Saturday 24 October Free day in Marrakesh • Hotel • Breakfast and dinner

    With a free day in Marrakesh, you’ll have plenty of time to explore this vibrant city, including one of the few remaining synagogues in the Medina and the largest Jewish cemetery. Enjoy a fun and relaxed dinner this evening now that all the hard work is done.

    Sunday 25 October Return home

    Transfer from the hotel back to the airport for the return journey home.

    This is a complex itinerary and subject to change