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Atlas adventure

I had never been trekking or on a group trip on my own, so I landed with some trepidation at Marrakech airport. My fears were soon allayed, when the group received a warm welcome from our guide, Lahcen, and I was soon surprised at how well we all got on.

Our first day in Marrakech was an outstanding highlight. The hustle and bustle of the spice-scented souks piled high with everything from lentils to lanterns could have been overwhelming, but the city also has an unlikely feeling of safety and calmness. Nowhere was this more evident than in the main square of Djemaa-el-Fna, musicians, dancers, and all sorts of stalls and performers create a real festival atmosphere. And this was just an ordinary Saturday afternoon!

On the trek, the sense of achievement when we reached the top was fantastic. The views from the 4,296m summit of Jebel Toubkal were like another world. As far as the eye could see the Atlas Mountains stretched out, a panorama of huge, rugged, brown rock.

I had imagined dry, dusty, desolate terrain throughout the trek, but in reality, in June at least, the scenery we encountered along the way was breathtaking and hugely varied, from lush green pastures and mountain streams, to walnut groves that sheltered our gite from the sun and above it all the snow capped peaks reaching up into the sky. We met many mountain goats, saw countless wildflowers and more species of birds and butterflies than I could name.

What kept us going on the trek was the group itself. We became the self-christened ‘Alpha Team’. A mix of couples and solo travellers from all walks of life, we didn’t look like the strongest lot. But our shared sense of humour and light heartedness meant that as the trekking became tougher, we were drawn closer together. There were parts of the trek that a few found more testing than others, but we all stayed together, probably never more than 50m from front to back.

After all that trekking, I couldn’t wait to tuck into the famous Moroccan cuisine and the quality of food in the restaurants and gite was excellent. But it was the standard of food produced by the cooks, with the limited, basic facilities available at the campsite at Neltner refuge, that left us open-mouthed. Out of thin air, they made mountains of fresh produce; cous cous, vegetables, soup, rice and a wonderful lemon chicken dish on our last day, and all presented beautifully.

And my abiding memory? I don’t think I’ll ever forget us all walking down single track paths and stepping aside simultaneously to the shout of, ‘Mule!’ from one, or often more, of the group, as we were approached by oncoming trains of mules and their muleteers!

Unpublished
4.5
(average rating, based on 11 reviews)
Trip type: 
Walking & Trekking
Trekking level: 
4. Demanding
Max group size: 
16

Mount Toubkal Trek

Africa, Morocco | 8 days
Trip code: 
Old-MO
On the Atlas trail - Morocco
A short walking trip in the superb Atlas Mountains, experience the challenge of climbing Mount Toubkal.

Departs in:

  • J
  • F
  • M
  • A
  • M
  • J
  • J
  • A
  • S
  • O
  • N
  • D

Comments

24 August 2011

hey andy i'm doing this sep.

any advise you can give me. what are you really glad you had with you??
any gear that youre glad you had
my first time doing anything like this so....

thanks
G