Where is Toubkal?
Standing at 4167m Toubkal is the highest mountain in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco. It is the centre point of the Toubkal National Park and the highest mountain in North Africa.
Will I be met on arrival?
Yes – A Monkey Mountaineering representative will meet you at the airport in Marrakech once you have moved through passport control and collected your luggage. Look for our logo or a sign with your name on it as you exit the terminal building.
What accommodation will I stay in?
Once you have been met at the airport, we transfer you to Imlil where you will spend your first night in the comfortable surrounds of Imlil Lodge. Our summer trek is a camping trek so you will stay in tents. We use three-man mountain hardware tents shared between two so there’ll be plenty of space. During our Winter Toubkal trips it’s too cold for camping so we stay in the Toubkal Refuge. This is a large building with shared heated, communal rooms as well as unheated dormitories for sleeping and shared washing facilities. We advise ear plugs for light sleepers! When we return to Marrakech, we use the comfortable, traditional Riad Africa within the old walled city.
Will I have my own room in the refuge?
Unfortunately, we cannot offer single occupancy rooms in the Refuge. Refuges are large buildings with dormitory style accommodation, there are no single rooms.
What food will I eat on the Mountain?
Food is crucial on the trek and we use locally sourced fresh produce to provide you with the highest quality meals. A well balanced and nutritional diet can be a key factor in success and plenty of carbohydrates like pasta, rice and breads are the staples. Breakfast times normally include plenty of breads, cereals, porridge and fruit. For our lunchtime meals we typically eat salads with lots of vegetables as well as soups and hot dishes. Evening meals will consist of meat or vegetable tagines. Coffee and tea are also provided at mealtimes. Please feel free to bring along additional snacks. Items such as nuts, energy type bars and food that give you a boost throughout the day are always good to have.
Do you cater for food allergies and dietary requirements?
Allergies and intolerances shouldn’t limit what you can do, so we make sure we cater for everyone. We ask that you let us know at the time of booking about any dietary requirements so that we can make sure these are taken into account on the trek. That said it is worth noting that kitchen conditions and facilities on the trail are fairly basic. Standards of food hygiene are good, but we cannot guarantee against cross contamination of ingredients. If you have a particularly serious allergy or are extremely sensitive to certain ingredients such as nuts or wheat (gluten) for instance, then please get in touch with us to discuss options.
How and when will I be provided with water?
Throughout this trek you will be provided with bottled water for drinking. We use locally sourced water from the streams for cooking and hot drinks. This is first boiled and purified. All plastic drinks bottles that we provide you with are collected and transported back down to Imlil for recycling. Maintaining good hydration is a key factor in the acclimatisation process, so we make sure water is always available.
How are problems dealt with on the trek?
We believe prevention is better than cure and all our trips are planned and structured to reduce the likelihood of problems arising. That said, things can go wrong. Our mountain crew are experienced and work hard to prevent problems however, if a problem does arise then our first aid trained Guides will deal with it in the first instance. If the problem is beyond their abilities, we can quickly arrange for emergency help using satellite phones.
What is AMS and will I get it?
AMS is short for Acute Mountain Sickness, an illness caused by being in a low oxygen environment where the body needs time to adjust. Symptoms of AMS include headaches, nausea, loss of appetite and poor or disturbed sleep. Whilst we can’t promise you won’t experience these symptoms, and whilst AMS might sound scary, it is really easy to avoid. Our Guides will provide help and advice and you can read more about how to avoid AMS here.
How can I avoid getting AMS?
The best way to avoid AMS is to follow these five simple steps:
1 – Go slowly. Trekking up to 4167m should be done slow so take your time, keep your pulse and breathing rate down, enjoy the views and take plenty of breaks to take photos. Going slowly means that your body can focus on acclimatising rather than keeping you moving at a fast pace.
2 – Stay hydrated. Make sure you drink plenty of water whilst on the trail. Being hydrated helps with the acclimatisation process. As a guide, you should need the toilet more than normal and your urine should be clear.
3 – Eat. Trekking in the Atlas Mountains and climbing to the summit of Toubkal requires lots of energy and so does the acclimatisation process. Eat well at each meal.
4 – Keep Warm. If you start to get cold your body will need to use extra resources to keep you warm. This slows down the acclimatisation process so make sure you have the correct layer system to keep warm.
5 – Get good rest. Sleep and rest are extremely important and also part of the acclimatisation process. Don’t be up chatting all night, get an early night and make sure you are warm and comfortable so that you can get a good night’s sleep.
What are HACE and HAPE?
HACE stands for High Altitude Cerebral Edema which is essentially a swelling of the brain due to excess fluid.
HAPE is High Altitude Pulmonary Edema or fluid in the lungs.
These two conditions are extremely rare on Toubkal trips and can be prevented by careful management of any symptoms of AMS whilst on the trek.
I’ve heard that Diamox helps prevent AMS – should I take it?
Diamox has been shown to reduce the chances of getting AMS, but it does not replace proper acclimatisation. We don’t recommend you take or use Diamox whilst on this trek and would encourage you to properly acclimatise during your ascent as per our simple steps explained in how to prevent AMS question.
What happens if I am unable to complete the trek due to ill-health or AMS?
If this happens for any reason don’t worry our Guides will make all the arrangements. If you need emergency attention you will be accompanied by one of our experienced crew. You will be responsible though for any additional costs, such as transport, hotels, meals etc. so make sure your insurance covers you for trekking up to 4167m in the Atlas Mountains and that it includes emergency evacuation and medical treatment.
What medication do I need?
If you are prescribed medicines for regular daily use, then you need to ensure you take these with you in sufficient quantities to last the trip. You should make sure you have any relevant and necessary paperwork proving that the medicines are yours and that you are legally allowed to travel with them. We recommend taking advice from your GP before you travel. Don’t forget that, as a condition of booking, we require that you take out adequate medical and travel insurance before your trip departs.
Any personal medications should be with you in your day sack at all times on the trek.
Do I need to take my own first aid kit, or will this be provided?
Yes, we recommend you carry a small first aid kit in your day pack containing, as a minimum, the following items:
· Blister plasters
· Antiseptic cream
· Personal medications
· High factor sun protection
Your first aid kit should be small and light so as not to add too much weight to your day pack. Our Guides carry full group first aid kits for dealing with more serious injuries.
Do I need any vaccinations?
We recommend you book an appointment with your GP to discuss your trip so they can provide you with specific advice. More information can be found here.
What clothes do I need for my Toubkal trek?
A comprehensive list of clothing and equipment required for your Toubkal trip can be found on our kit list tab.
If this is your first trek you may know someone who has done this type of trek before so are able to borrow some items. If you are planning on doing more of the same in the future, you may feel it better to invest in some trekking gear for the long-term use on other adventures.
You may want to pop into your local outdoor shop, they can guide you on the right type of clothes and equipment for this trek.
It is good to remember that slightly different clothing and equipment is needed for the summer and winter assent of Toubkal.
The best thing to remember when thinking about clothing and equipment is that you need to be prepared for all weather conditions whatever the season. This will make your adventure more enjoyable.
Do I need waterproofs for both summer and winter?
Waterproofs are an essential item of clothing for all seasons.
Whilst the summer assent of Toubkal can see many glorious days of sunshine, it is not uncommon for there to be occasional heavy downpours, having good quality waterproofs such as a gortex hard-shell jacket and over trousers is a must. These items will also help as we climb higher, helping protect you from the wind.
Please refer to our kit list for more information on specific kit for summer and winter.
What should I wear on my feet for the trek?
You need to look after your feet, after all it will be your feet that get you to where you are going. Making sure you choose the right footwear, preferably boots and allowing time to break them in will help prevent injuries like blisters, which can be very painful and potentially prevent you from reaching your goal.
When choosing suitable boots make sure they are waterproof, insulated, have a good sole and provide ankle support and above all, make sure they are comfortable. If you are looking to buy specifically for your Toubkal trek, then the best advice we can offer is to pop into your nearest outdoor gear shop and speak to a store assistant who should be able to help you choose the most suitable pair. Crampons are not required on our summer treks, but you will need them on the winter treks so make sure you have crampon compatible boots – please ask for advice if you are unsure.
Do I need crampons?
Whilst Toubkal is not considered a technical climb if you decide to take on Toubkal during the winter months then yes crampons will be required. You will be walking on compacted snow and crampons help to prevent slips and falls. You will also need an ice axe for this purpose. Your footwear does not need to be technical (unless you are planning on taking other adventures) but needs to be compatible with C1 crampons. Your local outdoors shop can help with this or you can get in touch with us for advice.
What items do I need in my daysack?
Our mules will be carrying your main duffle bag day to day, but you will need to carry your own daysack. This should be about 30lts and have a good waist strap so that the load can be carried on your hips. In it you should have only the essential items that you will need during the day. These include any personal medication and your first aid kit as well as a fleece layer and a full set of waterproofs (jacket & trousers). You should also carry at least 2 litres of water, some snacks, hat, gloves and sunglasses if you aren’t wearing them – don’t forget your camera!
What weight can my duffle bag be?
Here at Monkey Mountaineering we take responsibility when it comes to weight. Whilst on other trips where porters carry your main duffle bag on your trek to Toubkal mules will take the main load up the mountain. We ask that you keep your main bag to 15Kg or less.
Any clothes or gear that you don’t require whilst on the mountain can be left at Imlil Lodge and collected on your return. If this is your plan, then please make sure you bring a small bag which can be secured with a padlock to store them in.
For more information about what is needed in your duffle bag please refer back to our kit list tab.
What temperature rating does my sleeping back need to be?
During the winter months the night-time temperature can fall to -5 degrees C or less, so we advise a sleeping bag rated down to at least -5. It is important you keep yourself warm so if you feel the cold more go for a higher comfort rating or add a silk liner. Down sleeping bags offer the best insulation and are lighter than synthetic bags, but that makes them more expensive. There are some very good synthetic sleeping bags on the market which would be an option for this trek should you be wanting to keep the cost to a minimum. Please keep in mind synthetic sleeping bags are heavier than down when considering weight.
Do I need a down Jacket?
Whilst ultimately this is your choice, we would say yes. They are undoubtably warmer and offer the best type of insulation per weight ratio. They come into their own on summit day and during any winter assent.
Can I hire some gear from Monkey Mountaineering?
No, unfortunately we don’t currently provide equipment for hire but can recommend Expedition Kit Hire.
How much will I be out of my comfort zone?
You may be experiencing altitude for the first time, and the facilities at times will be basic, it may become difficult to sleep and eat so yes you might feel a little out of your comfort zone. Our experienced team will be with you to help you through these moments and remember your trekking partners will be going through this too so you can help each other along the journey.
Should I trek in the summer or winter?
This is entirely up to you.
Our summer trips are camping treks and our route takes us past some spectacular waterfalls, over high passes and provides superb views of the Atlas Mountains and on clear days, all the way to the Anti-Atlas and beyond to the Sahara. The weather is generally warm and other than having a good level of fitness no technical skills are required.
On our winter trips we trek directly to the Toubkal Refuge and since it is generally much colder, we stay in the refuge instead of camping. You don’t need to be any fitter for the winter trip, but you do need to be familiar with the use of ice axe and crampons. The crisp cold winter days can often provide better views than in the summer although these are not as guaranteed as the weather can be a bit less predictable.
Will it get really cold?
During the summer trek you can expect warm, clear days and plenty of sun, there is still a risk of short showers which is why we insist on waterproofs whatever season you choose to trek in. The temperature will still drop at night times making for a few chillier nights higher up the mountain.
The winter assent comes with plenty of snow and ice making it much colder. The winds can be quite strong higher up the mountain and at night you can expect the temperature to fall to around -5 degrees C.
The main thing to remember is to be prepared for the weather. Our guides will advise you as to what to expect.
Do I need to book my flights?
Yes, you will need to book your own flights for this trip.
Do I need to have special insurance for the trek?
Yes, and this is a condition of booking with us. Most insurance companies do not cover you for trekking at altitudes of more than 4000m, so you will need to make sure you have the appropriate cover. This should also include medical and emergency evacuation from the mountain. We request all insurance details from our clients before travel (8 weeks before departure).
How many months need to be left on my passport for this trip?
Your passport needs a minimum of 3 months left after the date of travel starts. If you don’t have a valid passport you could be refused entry into Morocco. For up-to-date advice please check on the Gov.uk website for passport advice.
Is a visa required for Morocco?
UK citizens do not currently need a visa to enter Morocco. You can keep up to date with this here.
How fit do I need to be for this trek?
Being physically fit will help you take each day in your stride. Fitness will make everything you do feel that much easier and, in theory, the fitter you are, the easier you will find the task in hand and the quicker you will recover from exertion and physically demanding tasks. Being fit helps and the fitter you are the more likely you are to enjoy the journey, and reach the summit of Toubkal, the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains.
How long before my departure date do I need to pay my balance?
A deposit of 25% of the total cost of the trip is payable at the time of booking and the balance is due 8 weeks before the departure date. If the booking takes place less than 8 weeks before departure, then the full amount is due at the time of booking. If you would like to discuss payment options, then please get in touch. Our booking conditions can be found here.
What is Monkey Mountaineering’s cancellation and refunds policy?
Please refer to our Booking Conditions located on our website for full details. Alternatively, please feel free to contact a member of the team.
What currencies are accepted in Morocco?
The currency of Morocco is the Dhiram. This is a closed currency and so can only be brought when in Morocco. Most people take euros or dollars which are widely recognised and can easily be converted into Dirhams on arrival as can sterling.
We recommend you take lots of small denomination notes for purchasing small gifts or snacks as some shops struggle with the larger notes. Most places in Marrakech accept Visa and MasterCard but be aware there is often a surcharge for using cards.
How does the tipping work?
Our local team will be working very hard to make sure your Toubkal trip runs smoothly and help you to achieve your goals. Tips are generally given to the crew on the last day of the trek. Tipping is down to you but I’m sure once you see how hard the crew work and what they earn in comparison to our own wages you will want to reward them. We suggest around €60-€80 (600-800 Dihrams) per client for the entire local crew, which will be shared amongst them. However, you can tip more if you feel you have received exceptional support from individuals.
How much spending money should we take?
This depends on what you intend to do after the trek, if you are planning on buying gifts and if you want to buy anything whilst on the trek (this option is limited). Morocco is a relatively cheap place and good value for money. After the trek you will spend one night in Marrakech, breakfast is included in this stay, but you will need to pay for other meals and any drinks. We think that £150 should be plenty for this and will also leave you with some money for gifts and some spending money whilst on the trek. Whilst you can purchase snacks before arriving in Morocco, we encourage you to support the local economy as much as you can.
How do I keep my phone and camera charged on the mountain?
There are no charging points for electrical items whilst on the trek, so we recommend you bring a battery bank (or similar) or a solar charger. If your device has disposable batteries, then please take spares and make sure you carry the used batteries back down the mountain for recycling. Keeping your devices warm at night by taking them in your sleeping bag is a good way to prolong your battery life. Before and after the trek, whilst staying in Imlil Lodge or Marrakech you will require a standard European adaptor. The voltage in Morocco is 220v similar to the UK and plugs are compatible with one of 2 types, C and E, more information can be found here.
How safe are my personal items on the trek?
Our team does everything it can to make sure all your possessions remain safe, but we recommend a small padlock on your duffle bag for extra piece of mind. Like any other trip we recommend things like passport, money etc should be kept with you at all times (in your daysack). If you would normally wear jewellery, unless it is absolutely necessary or for medical reasons, we suggest this is left at home. It is important that you take responsibility for your valuables whilst away as you would do on any other trip.
Any other questions?
We hope we have covered all your questions, however if there is anything else, we can help you with please contact a member of our team who will be happy to help.