A Tale of Two Refuges: A Night at Mount Toubkal's Midway Point

As I get a little older, I've come to appreciate the importance of a good night's sleep. And during my recent independent ice climbing trip on Morocco's highest peak, Mount Toubkal, I found myself in quite the predicament: where to rest my weary bones. Enter the two refuges: the French-owned Refuge du Toubkal and the Moroccan-operated Gite Camping Les Mouflons. If you're wondering which one to choose, don't fret! I've got you covered.

Nestled in the cradle of the south cwm, both refuges lie about five hours on foot from Imlil, the quaint village from which the Toubkal ascent begins. You might be able to get mobile reception at either hut, but my advice is to unplug and enjoy the breathtaking mountain views.

CAF Refuge du Toubkal: A Little Taste of France

The Refuge du Toubkal, run by the Club Alpin Francaise, is reminiscent of those cute Parisian apartments – a little cramped but full of character. You'll be bunking with your fellow adventurers in communal rooms, which could make for some amusing bedtime stories (or snoring symphonies). The refuge's downstairs area features two eating spaces and a salon/lounge with a fireplace – a cozy spot to warm your toes after a long day of trekking. But beware, this charming nook can transform into a game of sardines when the hut is full. For the culinary-inclined, cooking is only permitted on the provided stoves, with a nominal fee to cover usage. If you prefer full service, the refuge will whip up a meal for you, but be prepared to pay close to western prices. After a scrumptious feast, you might want to freshen up in the toilets, showers, and wash areas located in the basement. Keep in mind that a hot shower – a luxury in these parts – will cost you extra. Camping used to be an option near the older hut, but alas, progress has claimed the space. Fear not, though! The hut guardians can guide you to suitable alternatives in the vicinity.

Gite Camping Les Mouflons: A Moroccan Oasis

Mouflons Hut
Both refuges. Note the one far in the background is the French Alpine Hut

Owned by Mohamed Imzilen, the Mouflons refuge offers a more spacious alternative to its French counterpart. Accommodations here are also communal but boast a more open, airy feel. The bathrooms are spread across both floors, ensuring that your midnight bathroom trip won't turn into an expedition.

One of the largest dorms - beds are packed close
One of the largest dorms - beds are packed close

The pièce de résistance of the Mouflons refuge is its stunning terrace, which offers panoramic views of the valley stretching toward Oukaimeden. The downstairs area is equally roomy, a blessing during warm weather but a challenge when the temperatures plummet. A single, smoky chimney serves as the refuge's only source of heat, so pack some extra layers and get ready to snuggle up! As with the Refuge du Toubkal, cooking facilities are available for a fee. Should you prefer to have your meals prepared, the Mouflons staff will be more than happy to accommodate your request. Hot showers, an indulgence at this altitude, are also available for a surcharge (but they don't get much light as they're underground, so bring a head torch). You can now book this hut online on any of the common booking websites.

Which is better?

Honestly there isn't much in it, and here at Skyhook we have switched back and fourth a few times depending on the current state of the facilities. On this trip in specific, I opted for a night at the Mouflons refuge, drawn in by the terrace view and the allure of a more spacious abode. As I gazed out over the valley, sipping on my steaming cup of Moroccan mint tea, I couldn't help but feel content with my decision.