Caressed by light, water, wind and air, Mount Toubkal is a promise of immensity. But not only. The highest peak in Morocco, and the second in Africa, culminating at an altitude of 4167m, behind Kilimanjaro (5149m), is also the melting pot of a rich and varied biodiversity, as well as a perfect playground for hikers. In this respect, chauvinism has no place, since it comes from the other side of the Atlantic, and from the US channel, CNN.
By listing the 23 best hiking trails in the world, the news channel ranks in 6th position, the circuit that leads to the peaks of Mount Toubkal. Moreover, except for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda (15th), the giant of the High Atlas is the only African site represented in this ranking, on which stands the Pennine Way hiking trail, located along the border between England and Scotland.
If the American media has been seduced by the summit it describes as the place “where the Atlas Mountains are spread out for a majestic view,” the path that leads to it is just as much. Walking through hiking and mule trails, hikers have the opportunity to live an unforgettable and unique experience. Mount Toubkal Park is full of tourist attractions, able to take the path that leads to Kilimanjaro into the background, as confirmed by Abderrahim Oukioud, mountain guide.
After dozens of trips to the mountain and its region, the world’s third best guide, according to the famous Wanderlust World Guide Awards 2018, has become fond of this mountain and its beautiful valleys. An affection that does not prevent him from taking a critical look at the disgrace that stain.
A summit to conquer in a weekend
In the eyes of Abderrahim Oukioud and the many hikers he has guided in the past, the opportunity to conquer the summit of Mount Toubkal in a weekend, is a major asset. Indeed, except the circuit of ”The great crossing ”, which lasts 21 days, from Azilal, through the valley of Ait Bouguemez, the M’goun, to finish at Toubkal “If the hiker is in good physical condition and he only wanted to climb the Toubkal, it is proposed a transfer to Imlil, before going to Toubkal refuge, the Base Camp which is 3200 m above sea level. And the next day, to tackle the summit,” said Abderrahim Oukioud. And to add another major asset, and not least: “Unlike the Sahara where hiking is organized only in winter and autumn, the Toubkal, is offered to tourists throughout the year. In winter, when there is snow, a period to delight hikers fond of challenge and difficult weather conditions, or in summer, when the weather is more lenient.”
That said, whatever the duration of the climb or the chosen circuit, the wild footprint of Mount Toubkal gives it a special attraction. “The majority of the hikers I met, who had already reached the top of Kilimanjaro, told me they had a crush on the Toubkal, because of its wild appearance, due in particular to erosion and erosion. sometimes extreme weather conditions that make the trails are shifting, unlike Kilimanjaro which has an artificial path to its summit, “says our interlocutor, while recalling that this feature that enjoys the Toubkal also has its disadvantage “The climb is not to be taken lightly. Almost everyone who died there had not taken a guide. Because of too much self-confidence, many people have mistakenly believed that they are able to reach the summit just by following GPS coordinates. An unnecessary risk especially since the guides of Imlil, are as competent as”.
An altitude to tame and an environment to respect
Always in the series of difficulties, altitude is at the top of the list. From 3200m, the path becomes more technical, its effects on the body are hard to feel, “hence the interest of a time of adaptation. This necessarily goes through the distribution of the climb in two days, unlike some who realize it in one. Mainly Moroccans,” says Oukioud. And warn: “In a day, it is dangerous, because it can cause health problems and most importantly, we do not take advantage of the landscape. It becomes a race against the world that can be unpleasant.”
Finally, one warning calls for another, when we asked Abderrahim Oukioud to talk to us about points to improve in the circuit of Mount Toubkal, he immediately and without hesitation lambasted the lack of environmental awareness of visitors. “The Toubkal has become an open-air bin,” he laments, pointing to the lonely travelers, who “leave behind a lot of trash, every time they camp somewhere.” A problem whose solution would pass, according to him by the measure that is “to cash the entrance to the National Park of Toubkal. Like the Himalayas where the entry fee can reach around MAD 2000; hikers, campers or simple visitors, should all pay this fee. The financial windfall will help maintain the premises, in terms of hygiene in particular.”