Early morning departure from Marrakech for a pleasant drive south winding our way up through the Moulay Brahim Gorge and upper valleys. We will arrive at the foothills of the western High Atlas Mountains and our trailhead of Imi Oughlad (1450m) with the Jbel Toubkal , at 4167m and the highest peak in North Africa, and the Aglzim 3650m, looming before us. Here we separate from our vehicle and meet up with our Berber muleteer crew. We set off in a north-westerly direction for a 2 hour acclimatization hike along switchback mule tracks, passing cornfields and forests of pine and juniper to the Tiz N’Tachete (2000m), where we stop to look back down on the Imlil and Azzaden valleys before carrying on another half hour to Imi N’Ifri and our field picnic. A slow 2.5-hour hike along a south-western facing dirt track takes us to Assif N’Ait Oussaden and the red clay terraced village of Tiziane (1750m) for accommodation in the biouvac/gite.
After breakfast we now set off on our hike along the Assif N’Ait Oussaden Valley, passing through walnut groves, up to Tizi N’Taghrhourte (1995m) and through to a rare, almost flat stretch to arrive at Assaka Spring, where we will stop for our field picnic amidst an awesome silence after some 2.5 hours of relatively easy walking. Our post lunch hike takes us down along the edges of the forest until we reach the Berber village of D’Knt (1870m) or Agouns N’Assoul where we will have our dinner and spend the night in a bivouac/gite.
We set off for our morning’s 3 hour long hike through groves of walnut trees, fields of corn and barley to greet the many sheep and goat herders – and women and children bent over with 20kg loads of grasses and dried herbs. We traverse the Tizi N’Tagdalte to the descent amongst a forest of juniper trees till we come to a small spring where we will stop for our picnic. Once refreshed, we will continue down winding tracks for some 3 hours to come to a small river at the beginning of the valley of Assif N’Azzaden. From here we enter the village of Tizi Oussem (1850m) then up to the village of Tamsoult for our camp/hut.
After breakfast, we now set out eastwards on a moderately difficult hike up winding mule tracks to the Tizi Aguelzim (3550m), thence a further 4 hours southeast to the Toubkal Refuge which marks the spring snowline at 3207m, where we will have our dinner and rest for the night in a bivouac by the Refuge.
After a very early breakfast we will set out around 6am to summit after a 3 hour steep climb, the highest peak in North Africa, the Jbel Toubkal (4167m). The panorama from here is simply stunning. Whenever you are read, we take the Ikkhibi Sud or South Cirque for a 2 to 3 hour descent back to the Refuge for a picnic. After lunch we set off towards the north along steeply descending, zigzagging trails of the higher slopes of the Valley of the Assif n’Isouhouanem n’Ouagounss towards the Shrine of Sidi Chamharouch. Set beside a waterfall, there is a pilgrimage ‘marabout’ shrine here, probably the remnant of a pre-Islamic culture, but forbidden to non-Muslims. Another 2 hours downhill will take us to the village of Imlil from where most of the treks start prior to taking the taxi back to Marrakech.
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