WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
They call themselves the "Amazigh", the proud raiders, however most people know them as Berbers. An ancient tribal community, Morocco's mountain people sustain a lifestyle that has changed little over the centuries, by defending their language and culture against would be invaders from the world over – French, Roman, and Arab. However, in recent years the tide of globalisation in the form of an American Moroccan oil development has encroached upon their land, an invasion that the Berbers describe as the assault of yet another conquering army. This represents a real possibility that the culture, embodied in its language and arcane traditional practices, is being forced into retreat and it is said that there is no longer any hinterland where the indigenous heritage can be preserved.
In order to support these increasingly marginalised indigenous communities and enable them to resist the forces of globalisation which are overwhelming their cultural identity, it is essential that projects and expeditions such as this utilise local skills and traditional knowledge, as well as supporting the local economy through the purchase of food and goods from local suppliers. In this way, ecotourism provides benefits by supporting ancient traditions and assisting in maintaining and empowering indigenous cultures.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
Your two week trekking adventure will be led by project staff and expert local Berber tribesmen who have an intimate knowledge of the route, ensuring that your experience will be exciting and safe. You will be travelling on foot with a caravan of mules to carry the expedition luggage. You will cover a significant distance every day, over a six-hour period, giving you the opportunity to push yourself physically as you absorb the spectacular vistas and breathe the clean mountain air. You will have the chance to tackle some of the most exhilarating peaks in Africa, including the famous Djebel Toubkal, where you will discover views that will take your breath away. Your tour of the High Atlas region and local Berber villages will leave you with unforgettable memories.
Upon arrival at Marrakech airport you will be collected by our coordinator and transferred to a guesthouse in Marrakech, where you will stay for one night. Tonight is a great opportunity to meet your fellow trekkers and explore the maze-like souks and busy market stalls of Marrakech.
The following morning you will have a gentle start to the day with a minibus journey to the famous ski resort of Oukaïmeden, which at 2600m altitude has a beautiful view over several villages below. Here you will meet the local muleteers team. After lunch, you’ll head through the sheep-pens of Tiferguine before setting up camp at the impressive foot of the col of Ouhattar (3000m). Camp consists of a bivouac shelter, which will be basic but a fantastic way to appreciate the beautiful surroundings. 1 ½ hours walking.
Today will get you into the spirit of the trek as you traverse your first mountain pass, descending over villages, to join the high valley of Ourika. You will pass through a number of Berber villages including Tamguist, Anfli and Tiourdiou. Bivouac camp. 6 hours walking.
Carrying on along the valley of Ourika you’ll make the ascent up the col of Tamater (2200m), before descending down to the Assif N’oufra. Bivouac near the river. 6 hours walking.
Today’s trek will see you navigate the twisting track around the rocky outcrop that hides Amenzel. After this section the landscape changes as the valley widens into several basins. In the afternoon, you cross the Tizi Oumchichki (2981m) where you can stop for lunch and appreciate the famous summit of Mount Toubkal. Bivouac on the river bank of Tinnizer (2200m). 6 ½ hours walking.
This is a longer day, but one that rewards you with spectacular views. After crossing a 3200m pass, you will follow the watershed down to Assif Ouraï, then traverse the Tizi pass (3120m), which swings over the village of Amzouzart. Night in transit accommodation. 7-8 hours walking.
This is a shorter day than the previous four, as you climb to the only lake in the High Atlas region. A 3 ½ hour ascent brings you to the Lake of Ifni, which is nestled amongst steep moraine slopes. Take the afternoon to swim, relax and reflect on today’s activities with your fellow trekkers.
Early breakfast this morning, as you leave for the col of Ouanoums (3660 m) that rises through magnificent rugged scenery. Bivouac on the other slope of the col, (3300m) at the foot of Mount Toubkal. 6 hours walking.
Today is regarded as one of the most memorable stretches as you climb to the summit of Toubkal. At 4167m, it is the highest point in North Africa, and once at the top there are superb panoramic views over Marrakech towards the plains below. It is a relatively pleasant 4 hour climb with no technical difficulties. Tonight you will return to the same bivouac. 6 ½ hours walking.
Take advantage of being in the heart of Toubkal to climb another striking peak, Ouanoukrim (4089m). After a well deserved lunch, you will go down to the Assif ‘N’ Issoubouane reaching Armed. The route goes via the hermitage of Sidi Shamaroush, a place frequented by pilgrims. 4 hours walking.
On this stage you will make the beautiful ascent to reach the high pass of Tizi N’Tzikert (3000m). Take in the magnificent views over the corridors of Tazzarart as you descend into the sheep pens of Tamzoult (2250m). 4-5 hours walking.
Descend through the valley of Assif N’Ouissadene, taking the opportunity to discover numerous villages and cultures. You will set up camp for the night along the river bank. 5 ½ hours walking.
This will be your last day of trekking before being transferred back to Marrakech. In the morning you will descend through the forest that leads to Ouirgane (810m), where the minibus awaits. After a quick breakfast you will be driven back to Marrakech, and booked into a hotel where you will stay for the next two nights. Get settled in the accommodation and enjoy a night out sampling the street food, exploring the souks and night markets, and marvelling at the street entertainers and snake charmers in the Djema El Fna.
The day is yours to explore this fascinating and mysterious city. Take some time to visit the tanneries, purchase some spices or relax over some traditional mint tea. Tonight is the final evening with your fellow trekkers so take the chance to reflect on the incredible journey you have all completed.
You will be transferred back to the airport by your project coordinator.