Global Adventure - Explore Morocco’s Ancient Cities, Oases and Desert Dunes, and Trek the High Atlas to Mt Toubkal


Global Adventure - Explore Morocco’s Ancient Cities, Oases and Desert Dunes, and Trek the High Atlas to Mt Toubkal

On this 17-day adventure, experience the rich tastes, colors, history and cultures of Morocco’s markets and streets in its colonial cities of Marrakesh and Fez; ride a camel and catch dramatic sunsets and sunrises from Bedouin tents under the towering dunes of the western Sahara; tour deep gorges, waterfalls, oases of date palms and towns with unique food and handicrafts; and trek for 7 days in the stark, stunning landscapes of the High Atlas mountains to the summit of Mount Toubkal, enjoying the hospitality of remote Berber guesthouses and a historic refuge high on the summit path. Our local guide and support team will provide rich insights into the history, culture and ecology of these areas, and will carry our overnight gear on the trekking days so all we need to carry on the treks is a daypack. After the trek we’ll be driving considerable distances each day (2 to 7 hours) to experience several of the other amazing places that Morocco has to offer. All lodgings, transport and most meals are included through the trip. NOTE: THE MEMBER FEE SHOWN IS FOR THE 50% FINAL PAYMENT ONLY.

  • Sun, Apr 14, 2024 — Tue, Apr 30, 2024
  • Global Adventures Committee
  • Backpacking, Global Adventures
  • Adults
  • Strenuous/Very Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 50.3 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 16,295 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 13,668 ft
  • Pace: 1.5-2.5 MPH

The group will meet at our hotel in Marrakesh in the afternoon of Sunday April 14 2024 with our local guide (transfers will be arranged from the airport), followed by a briefing and a group dinner.  After touring Marrakesh through the next day, we’ll head south and then east by private van to the High Atlas for our 7 days of trekking, then the deep Dades Gorge, the dunes of the Sahara, and date palm oases on our way to Fez, the oldest city in Morocco.  After touring Fez, we’ll head north for Chefchaouen (the “blue pearl of Morocco) where we’ll spend that afternoon and the next morning touring before driving to Tangier for flights out on the evening of 30 April 2024.  Participants must book the same or similar flight times out of Tangier because we’ll all be in the same van.

Itinerary Highlights:    After arriving at Marrakesh airport and meeting our local English-speaking guide and driver who will accompany us on our whole adventure, we’ll transfer to our hotel in the historic medina (the oldest walled portion of the city), and the next day our exploration of Morocco will begin with an in-depth tour of the historic colonial city of Marrakesh.

Then, on Day 3, we’ll board our minibus and head south into the High Atlas, for 7 days of supported trekking on shepherds’ paths and rocky trails over high passes, along valleys of walnut groves and juniper, and over hills past shepherds with their sheep and goats and women and children bent over with 20kg loads of firewood and dried herbs, with increasing views of the snowy Atlas ahead.  On the first 4 trekking nights (days 3-6 of the overall trip) we’ll be at welcoming Berber guest houses, enjoying food prepared by the family and lodging in rustic but comfortable surroundings.  A larger village and guesthouse reached on day 6 provides an opportunity for a welcome shower.  On day 7 we’ll reach Refuge Toubkal, our base for a non-technical climb of Mount Toubkal on day 8, three hours up and two hours down, with incredible panoramas from the top.  We descend back from the refuge to the Berber village of Aroumd, a fertile valley with terraced, irrigated plots and fields of maize, onions and fruit trees on all sides.  An early afternoon arrival provides an option for multiple glasses of mint tea,  a local steam bath (or Hammam), and dinner at another welcoming guest house!  That caps off our nine days in the High Atlas, 50 total miles and approx. 16,000 feet of gain and loss with an average daily distance of 7 miles (5 to 9.9) and an average elevation gain of 2328 ft (1837’ to 4123’).

Back to our van in Aroumd village, we’ll then set out on 7 days of touring more of the unique cultural and physical landscapes of Morocco, driving from place to place each day (2 to 7 hours of driving each day) and day hiking wherever we have the opportunity.  These visits will include the Roses Valley (where the village raises roses and we’ll see local women harvesting them), the Dades Gorge (a deep gorge with gorgeous steep red-rock sides), two days and nights in the western Sahara in the Erg Chebbi dunes with a camel ride and sunset/sunrise from a Bedouin camp in the desert, and the Ziz Valley where the local people are the largest producers of dates in Morocco (we’ll have lunch at a with a family in their kasbah in the middle of a date farm).  From there we’ll be heading to the Azrou cedar forest where we’ll meet the local population of Barbary macaques, before going on to Fes, the oldest city in Morocco, for a day tour.  From Fes we’ll transfer to the blue city of Chefchaouen for a tour and a hike to a local waterfall with a series of lovely pools where we’ll be able to swim!  Finally we’ll transfer from Chefchaouen to Tangier for our flights out on April 30.

Time of Year:   We’ll be traveling in April when wildflowers are blooming, snow has (mostly) melted in the mountains, and the weather is relatively mild.    (Recognize that it still could get quite hot, into the 80s or low 90s at low elevations and in the desert even while there could be some snow in the High Atlas requiring microspikes!).

Lodging:   During this trip we’ll be staying at safe and comfortable 2-3* local boutique hotels in the cities and towns with easy access to tourist sites and restaurants, and in Berber guest houses with rustic shared bunkroom accommodations and warm hospitality while in the High Atlas.  We’ll also spend one night at a Bedouin camp in the Sahara with tent accommodations.  All rooms are on a twin-share basis and we can't accommodate requests for singles.

Food:   OH, the food!!!  All food will be provided during the tour except for a couple of lunches and dinners during free time while we’re touring in the towns.  Breakfasts will be provided at our hotels when we’re in town.  At our Berber guest houses and at our Bedouin camp we’ll enjoy sumptuous meals prepared by the family and usually sourced from their own gardens and farms.  Moroccan food is a blend of many influences:  Berber, Andalusian, and Mediterranean cuisines with hints of European and sub-Saharan influences. Read more about some typical Moroccan dishes at this link!  Generally vegetarian and vegan diets will be easy to accommodate (though choices may be limited at the guest houses) but more specialized diets may be more difficult, so please let the trip leader know as early as possible about  your dietary restrictions.

Objectives, Expectations and Style:  Mountaineers groups can be very different from commercial groups because Mountaineers are expected to invest in getting to know and trust each other so that they can rely on each other to have their back in case of an emergency or other challenge during the trip.   We are interdependent; trip pacing and itinerary decisions are made with an eye on each of us helping one another be safe and successful even if this means not every individual’s personal goals are met.   On an extended Mountaineers group trip, this interpersonal investment in mutual support and group relationships is particularly essential because many group members start out not knowing each other, but then then find themselves in close quarters for a week or more and sometimes called upon to give significant aid to another group member. 

Global Adventures leaders therefore not only need participants to be fit and medically capable, but also need to be sure that everyone’s trip objectives, expectations and trip style are aligned with the leader’s and with one another.  For this reason, we ask any applicant for the trip to read and agree to the leader’s Objectives, Expectations and Style, and proactively bring forward any questions they have about what any item might mean.

Leader’s Experience:    Cheryl Talbert has been backpacking for 30 years and trekking and backpacking internationally for nearly 15 years.  She is currently is chair of the Foothills Backpacking committee and co-chair of the Global Adventures committee, and instructs for several hiking and backpacking courses including a new leader seminar, the Staying Found On-Trail Navigation course, a Lightweight Backpacking Food planning clinic and an Essential Tools and Skills for Backpack Trip Planning clinic.  She has led dozens of domestic group backpacking trips for the Mountaineers and private groups since 2009, from local overnights to extended trips in the Sierras, Cascades and Rocky Mountains, and has been a Global Adventures leader since 2012.  She has led 30 successful Global Adventures with no injuries, including Peru, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, northern, central and southern Patagonia, New Zealand, Portugal, Turkey, Iceland, the Alps and the Dolomites as well as the Colorado trail and Wind Rivers highline in the Rockies.   This will be her first trip to North Africa.  (

Strenuousness or Difficulty rating:  This route is rated strenuous and challenging, due to some very rugged terrain, steep and unstable scree surfaces, significant elevation gain while at altitude.   

Limit:   Maximum of 12, including the leader.  If fewer than 10 people register, the trip price may need to be adjusted in the final payment.

Participant Requirements:    Must be a current Mountaineers member with an up-to-date waiver on file. Participants must be fully vaccinated with 2 boosters, and may be asked to get a PCR test before our flight departure from Seattle.  This outing includes strenuous hiking of up to 10 miles and up to 4100’ of gain on rugged terrain (including some steep moraine and scree slopes) for multiple successive days, so participants need to be in excellent aerobic condition with good balance and confidence traveling on rough, sometimes exposed trail with a daypack, and with the experience and willingness to deal with some discomfort, heat and lack of amenities for extended periods.  In your application you will be asked to demonstrate recent experience with multi-day strenuous backpacking or mountain trekking, plus a positive attitude and a demonstrated ability to get along well with groups under demanding conditions (Mountaineers trip experience is strongly preferred.)   The route is very remote, so although we will have multiple exit options during the route, exit (by horse) to a road and back to a medical facility will be difficult and slow.   Therefore, participants must have the maturity and judgment to recognize and be forthright about illness or injury symptoms before they become significant problems.  The Mountaineers require that anyone participating in a high altitude trek must participate in a training class or self-paced review on safe travel at altitude and complete a quiz on the material before the trip.  Medical history will be requested from all applicants and anyone who has a history of altitude illness or other medical conditions potentially exacerbated by cold or high altitude may not be approved to participate in the trip or may require a doctor’s written approval.  

NOTE:  As a Mountaineers group we will operate as interdependent, capable travelers making our way together and helping one another succeed and be safe.  You are responsible for your own safety and that of your fellow travelers.  You must have the ability to navigate on trails with a map and compass, and a digital route on Gaia and gpx will be sent to you before we depart for the trip.

NOTE:  Participants must be fully vaccinated to participate in the trip.  In addition, participants are expected to practice conservative covid behavior before and during transit to the trip including masking and avoiding crowded indoor spaces whenever possible; and that they will carry covid self-tests on the trip and use them at any time when they experience a symptom commonly related to covid.  Any positive test will mean that the participant will need to leave the group and quarantine at their own expense for at least 5 days  before rejoining the group (masked) or flying home.

Trip Price Detail:   $3200 including all lodging, ground transportation, and most meals along the trek.  Not included are your airfare (~$1500), travel insurance ($75-350), tips for guides and staff (~$150), some meals, optional activities, sundries/personal items, and any covid tests or quarantine-related costs.   International medical and emergency evacuation insurance are required to participate.

Registration Instructions: AFTER REGISTRATION OPENS ON APRIL 15, please complete and submit the application form after which the leader may get back to you with additional questions. The leader will collect applications for two weeks before deciding on the final roster based on  experience, fitness and fit with the objectives, expectations and style, and will not be based on the order of application. 

After the leader’s approval to join the roster, please pay the 50% deposit ($1600) in order to hold your space. A place on the roster can only be held with payment of the deposit. Registration will close as soon as the roster fills, and the balance of the trip payment will be due in early 2024. As soon as you have registered you are asked to complete an online Trip Agreement and Liability Release form.

Application     Trip Agreement     Release     Supplemental Information

Cancellation Policy:   A cancellation penalty of $320 will apply to any cancellations up to 60 days before departure.  Between 30 and 60 days of departure there will be a cancellation penalty of $2200, and your full trip payment will be forfeit if you cancel within 30 days.  An exception may be made if we are able to get a qualified replacement, in which case you will be refunded your payment up to that date  less a $100 admin fee.


Explore Morocco’s Ancient Cities, Oases and Desert Dunes, and Trek the High Atlas to Mt Toubkal

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

After receiving your deposit, the leader will send out a series of letters or emails providing information to help participants succeed on the trip, including recommended and required gear, recommended maps and guidebooks.


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