> Climbing atop Mt Toubkal in Morocco during early March <
Snow in the Sahara? Almost true...
The High Atlas is North Africa’s greatest mountain range and it contains some of the most intriguing and beautiful regions of Morocco and of Africa at such. The landscape of the Atlas Mountains varies from season to season: winter drops meters of snow that leads to gushing river valleys in spring. Summer brings an unforgiving sun, while the autumnal sunlight brings the browns and reds of the peaks to life.
In our view, the highlight of the Atlas is Toubkal National Park, home to the impressive Jebel Toubkal (4.167m), the highest peak in North Africa, as well as numerous mud-thatched Berber villages that appear locked in time. In its valleys are many remote pinnacles and passes (Tizis in Berber; cols in French) ready to be explored, together with several worthy crests and hamlets that can be reached on trekking routes along mule paths. The travel from north into the mountain system was spectacular. We saw clearly how the Atlas range is a physical barrier between the green plains and olive landscapes in north and the rocky gorges, vast sand dune seas and the Sahara in south.
We spent one week during wintertime to summit Mount Toubkal with perfect weather on the summit day, while subsequently doing the summit circuit via Ourika Valley only to experience a rendezvous with a snowstorm in approximately 3.200m height. One of the benefits of trekking in this region during winter is to experience snow along the trek, to reach the summit with crampons and relevant gear, and to meet very few travelers. The mountain can be quite busy in other seasons.