Tuesday, 19 June 2012 8:56 AM
Morocco is an excellent choice if you're looking for walking adventure tours that are within easy reach of the UK but still offer a touch of the exotic. In addition to trekking in the High Atlas Mountains, you'll have the chance to explore vibrant Marrakech.
With tours lasting for five days, this is the ideal option if you're keen to jet off somewhere exciting, but aren't looking for a lengthy expedition that will keep you away from home for months. Here are just a few of the highlights you can look forward to if you decide to tackle Mount Toubkal. A five-day trip to Morocco to climb the peak with Explore starts from £259 without flights.
At 4,165 m above sea level Jebel (or mount) Toubkal is the highest peak not only in Morocco, but also in North Africa. Over the course of three days, it is possible to ascend to its summit and back down again comfortably, as long as you have a good level of fitness and are able to walk for between six and eight hours a day.
Taking a transfer from Marrakech, you'll head to Imlil from where you trek to the Toubkal camp via the beautiful Mizane Valley and the village of Aremd. Imlil is located 1,740 m above sea level and from this starting point, you'll climb over 1,400 m to reach your overnight stop. One of the highlights along the route is a visit to the Sidi Chamarouch shrine, which is dedicated to Islam. It has become a popular pilgrimage destination and, as a result, a small hamlet has sprung up around the religious building.
A gushing waterfall and stream runs past the settlement and you'll cross this before continuing on with your trek to the camp high above near the snowline. The following morning you'll begin your ascent to the summit of Jebel Toubkal, climbing a little under 1,000 m to reach the top. From here you'll have stunning views across the rest of the Atlas Mountains, as well as the valleys, lakes and rivers below.
The scree on the mountainside, as well as the altitude, can make this hard going, so take your time as you gradually get higher. Once you've had time to admire the amazing panoramas, you'll head back down again, stopping in Aremd overnight before heading back to Marrakech the following day.
Make sure you have enough energy left to discover the wonders of Marrakech before you travel back to the UK, as the city is home to a vast array of fascinating sights, sounds and smells. Perhaps the best place to get a sense of its atmosphere is the Place Jemaa El Fna, where you'll find all manner of traders selling everything from local delicacies to beautiful handicrafts, as well as street performers entertaining the crowds and numerous coffee shops where you can sit back and enjoy the hustle and bustle.
You should also seek out the Koutoubia Mosque - although its striking minaret makes it a relatively easy landmark to find. The place of worship was constructed in the 12th century and is the largest mosque in Morocco. Its ornate minaret towers above the city's skyline and is a stunning sight to behold.
To escape from the fast-pace of life on Marrakech's streets, visit the Saadian Tombs in the Arabo-Andalusian garden. This is an oasis of calm in Marrakech and the mausoleums feature some beautifully-decorated rooms.