Having the right equipment while trekking through the Atlas Mountains is crucial. Toubkal National Park is unique in the sense that mountains can either be covered by a white blanket of snow, typically between November and April, or they can be deceivingly hot. We guide treks all year round and wrote an article on the best times to schedule your expedition here.
There are a few pieces of equipment that are heavily encouraged no matter what time of year you are trekking. Safety is our utmost priority on the mountain and we will help you double-check your gear and make sure that you aren’t missing any critical pieces.
Our packing list for the Atlas Mountains includes:
– Proper hiking boots/shoes (blisters and broken shoelaces are no fun 4,167m up)
– Warm layers (wind-breaking jacket, long sleeve)
– Gloves/cap (the wind can bring on cold gusts leaving your ears and hands numb)
– Water bottle
– Sleeping bag*
– Trekking poles* (not entirely necessary but can be helpful at certain points, especially in winter)
*We partner with a climbing shop in Imlil and can help you rent whatever equipment you’d like. At the time of this writing, headlamps are $2, sleeping bags $5, and poles $7.
Other items that are useful include a light backpack, sunscreen, a camera, and a scarf. Between November and April, we will help you rent crampons and ask you to pack much warmer gear (leggings, wool socks, thicker gloves/hat).
We use pack mules mainly for food, water, and sleeping gear. If at any point the gear you have on you becomes too heavy, let your guide know and they will either help carry your gear themselves or find room on the mules.
Exploring the Atlas Mountains is a unique opportunity that will not only help you realize the diversity of landscape in Morocco but also help you further understand the home of the Berbers and deepen your understanding of our culture.
If you have additional questions about your packing list, feel free to ask me.
If you are feeling ready for your next adventure, click here to take you to our expedition calendar.
Trekking in Atlas Mountains: When is the Best Time to Go? The best time to hike through Toubkal National Park depends on what you are looking for. Are you going for a speed climb (summit in the least amount of time possible)? Do you want to trek in the snow? Or be able to see the lush Berber valleys below with their fruit trees and gardens in blossom? Maybe you want to experience the high desert and hike during some of the harshest conditions for bragging rights. These are a few of the questions you can ask yourself when deciding on a time.
The mountains are busiest in the summer months from June to early September. Jebel Toubkal (the second highest peak in Africa) is open year-round which means the rest of the mountain range is too. Most adventures come here to summit Jebel Toubkal, but there are also off-beat routes that take you from one remote Berber village to the next. More information on all of those routes is here.
Let’s break down what climbing in the Atlas Mountains looks like at different periods of the year.
In winter, from December to February, the weather conditions are most difficult. It’s cold, the valleys are often covered in snow with a thicker blanket lying at higher altitudes. The wind blows all year round and during this time loose snow whips through the air. Sunglasses, scarves, crampons, and warm caps are crucial in this climate. We wrote an article on proper gear here. The benefit of hiking in the cold months is reduced crowds. Also, the mountains are stunning with snow and the air is crisp. If you are fit and have some trekking experience winter is a great time to visit.
March to May is a beautiful springtime when the mountains are still fairly quiet, some snow has melted, and the valleys below are soaking in that water and turning green. During this period you will see the greatest contrasts in colors. The weather isn’t hot yet and you won’t need to pack a thick coat. A few layers and a light jacket will do the job. We may still be using crampons depending on the exact time you visit, but the trekking will likely be easier than it was during winter making it more accessible to different skill levels.
June to August is the busiest and hottest month to visit the Atlas Mountains. “Busy” here is much different than “busy” in the Switz Alps. Even during our touristy months, it isn’t hard to find your own sliver of peacefulness in the mountains. Heat is also relative. While Marrakech and major Moroccan cities will easily reach 40C, the mountains will typically stay 5C-10C cooler than that. If you are thinking about coming in this time, we recommend scheduling your expedition sooner rather than later as many guides will become booked. You can check our availability here.
In Autumn, October-November, the crowds disappear and the colors in the valleys start to change. Temperature drops and snow will begin to fall. This period and spring are our favorite times to guide treks. The best time to hike in the Atlas Mountains depends on what you are looking for. Spring and fall are the most accessible and enjoyable due to the weather and lack of summer crowds or heavy snow. Winter is perfect for those who want to challenge themselves and experience the mountain range at its quietest time. Summer, while hot and busy, brings on the opportunity for you to meet many interesting climbers from around the world.
Our guides are scheduled out here. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.