My friend and I opted for the Classic Berber village and Toubkal Ascent Trek - four days in the beautiful Atlas Mountains of Morocco and the added bonus of the ascent of the highest point in Northern Africa, to add to my ascent of the highest point in the whole of Africa; Kilimanjaro in 2009. Having arrived in Marrakech a day previously my friend and I were picked up from our hotel early on the Sunday morning, a drive of just over an hour in a nice comfortable 4x4 we turned to see two men and a mule standing at the start of a track. The four days were to be spent with our professional guide along with a cook come mule man and his mule to carry the kit and supplies.
Our first day was fairly stress free - we took lunch surprisingly early but the view, and the food, made it worth while! The temperature kept rising and at mid day was scorching out of the shade. We kept walking up to the top of a pass, being greeted with incredible views of a green valley, the bottom of which we were due to sleep in the first night. We spent some of the afternoon having tea in a Berber village at the bottom of the valley; good fun and amazing to do but we spent nearly an hour there; our guide got to have a good chat to his friends though... despite the delay we got to our Gite for the night late afternoon and could relax and enjoy the evening meal after a tour of the village.
Day two saw our path lead all the way up the lush green valley we were starting from the bottom of, with the day due to end at 3,000m at a French Alpine Club hut. The walking was spectacular, if not boiling, and the views of the valley and mountains were awesome. Lunch was again long, perhaps slightly too long, but the afternoon session saw us scale a path next to a beautiful waterfall and rise the final metres to the French hut; the hut is only metres away from another waterfall - one we enjoyed washing in; it was freezing!
Day 3 was the big one, we'd decided to summit Toubkal that day rather than the fourth! We left the French hut around seven before climbing to about 3,700 metres or so; a long slow trudge up a scree slope was rewarded with some nice views before a descent to the Toubkal hut - we were there about 3 hours after leaving our starting point. With an hour's rest or so we were ready to head up to the summit of North Africa. We left at about 11 and trudged up the scree and the surprisingly large fields of snow; crampons and poles wouldn't have gone a miss! Our guide helped himself to poles but we weren't offered any. We hadn't yet had lunch so at about 4,000m sat on the edge of a ride to enjoy sardines and bread - not a bad spot for a meal; incredible views and the sun beating down.
We reached the summit soon after lunch and were met with great views and the metal monument on the summit - sadly some idiots have littered and graffiti'd the area but it was still great to be at the top of Mt. Toubkal! We were back at the Toubkal hut at 3 o'clock, only four hours after leaving it and having had lunch and spent quite a while at the summit, we pushed hard but it was worth it - go to the Atlas Mountains and be sure to head to the top of Mt.Toubkal.
Our final day saw us descend from the Toubkal hut to the town of Imlil where we were due to be picked up. It was nice to be heading back to civilisation but sad to be leaving the beautiful mountains and surroundings we were blessed with. Our guide seemed to constantly want to delay our arrival back at Imlil despite us asking nicely to leave early as we wanted to return to Marrakech to sort the next stage of our trip. We eventually got to the town, had a nice lunch and were able to safely return to our hotel in Marrakech.
We really enjoyed the trip, the mountains are beautiful, the weather was incredible and the experience was a good one. As you can probably tell from my references to our guide, we weren't his biggest fans. I don't believe this is down to Tour Dust and did wonder whether his attitude depended on clients. On other trips I've done I've found guides often assumed two 21 year old guys are happy to put up with relaxed guiding; we are to a point but it went a bit too far. Our guide often seemed more keen to talk to mates and despite being good to talk to we found we had to make the effort - we were never told about places in detail unless we asked several times. I'm sure other people wouldn't have this problem and maybe it was just us!
All in all the trek was brilliant and Tour Dust organised it to the highest level - we were just a bit unlucky with our guide to be honest, but I'm sure this wouldn't be an issue for many people! I highly recommend Tour Dust and highly recommend trekking in the Atlas Mountains - go for it! Tour Dust organise a range of tours across the world involving a great range of activities - if you love Adventure and are looking for your next then check out the site below! I'll be uploading trip pictures ASAP.
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