Toubkal National Park protects the highest peak in Morocco, the breathtaking snowcapped Jebel Toubkal. The national park covers 38 square kilometres of terrain high up in the Atlas mountain range, an area where the air is pristine and the climate crisp. Affectionately known as the roof of North Africa, Jebel Toubkal is a popular destination for hiking and trekking. Toubkal has dramatic vistas of sugar-white snow, mountainous plateaus and deep-cut valleys.
Alpine meadows and forest cover a small percentage of the park, providing a refuge for a few small species of wildlife. Sightings of wild boar, squirrels and gazelles are common while hiking through the park.
Situated just 70 kilometres from Marrakesh, Toubkal National Park is an easy day visit from the thriving mecca. Just outside of the high-altitude park exist many Berber villages and markets, offering a fascinating introduction into the lifestyle of Morocco’s local community. International visitors can easily fly into the Marrakesh Menara Airport and arrange a trip to the national park.
There is the opportunity to observe rare species like the golden eagle as well as the Atlas viper snake and the thorny eyed gecko.
Toubkal National Park can easily be accessed as a day destination as it is just 70 kilometres from Marrakesh where there is an international airport.
A visit to Toubkal National Park is not only about wildlife, but it also boasts sweeping natural scenes and insight into local cultures. Wildlife is sparse, but there are a few unusual species to spot in the area. One, in particular, is the rare golden eagle that can be seen soaring across the bright blue skies surrounding the snowcapped peaks. Other birdlife to spot includes the blue rock thrush, Alpine swift, bearded vultures, Eurasian buzzard, black kite, woodpeckers, shrikes and European rollers. In total, there are 97 bird species in the area.
On terra firma, it’s quite possible to see porcupines, the deadly Atlas viper snake, thorny eyed geckos, gazelles, squirrels, wild boar and porcupines.
Late spring and autumn is the best time to visit the national park. The trails are more accessible and less weather-beaten. During the winter the weather is freezing and makes a great snow trekking or skiing holiday. November to March is the ideal time for snow-based activities.
By April, the snow starts to melt. During the summer, which is between June and August, temperatures escalate. The lower altitudes are the hottest and experience huge fluctuations in temperatures.
Toubkal National Park offers an array of activities, both outdoorsy and cultural. The region is only a short drive from Marrakech and makes for an ideal day trip or overnight stay. The major drawcard of the area is trekking to the summit of North Africa’s tallest mountain peak. There are several well-utilised mule tracks around the mountain, leading to hiking huts available for overnight treks.
The paths are well contoured and easily navigable during peak season. It's recommended that avid hikers acclimatise to the altitude before heading out on more arduous treks. Gentle walks, camel rides, and mule rides take place in the easily accessible valley areas.
When the temperatures plummet to below freezing, and the park is blanketed in snow, visitors head to Oukaimden for downhill skiing activities. There are many Berber villages scattered on the outskirts of the park worth visiting. Berber communities have small markets and cafes, catering to tourists.
The national park is geared towards hiking and trekking activities. There are several hiking huts and camping sites in the park. Stone hiking huts provide respite from the elements but are very basic. Camping is only recommended during the warmer season, in the lower reaches of the valley.
There are guesthouses inside the park, decorated in typically colourful Berber-style. Guesthouses come complete with private bathrooms, Turkish bath areas and even on-site trekking shops. There are a ton of small luxury boutique hotels, refuges and other accommodation options in the valley.