Thursday, 2 October 2014

Morocco Summer Trip

From late August to mid-September, a group of 15 UBESters hiked, scrambled, swam and haggled in the incredibly beautiful and arid High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. After Arriving in Marrakech, we spent the first week hiking in a loop around the area north of Imlil (a large valley town in the centre of the Toubkal region) taking in the remote, non-motorised town of Tacheddirt and the high ski-resort of Oukaimeden. Sleeping in a combination of refuges and tents, we use this period to acclimatise to the altitude by slowly increasing our sleeping height day to day, and to tackle some beautiful peaks – Adrar Tamalaroute (2724m) which dominates the Imlil valley and the spectacular yet terrifying peak of Adrar Angour (3616m), all in preparation for the ascent of Mt Toubkal (4167m) and others the next week. The hot weather didn’t dampen our spirits and in fact the dryness of the air meant that it wasn’t all that unpleasant (mostly!), however finishing walking before 2pm was desirable.
The second week saw us at a higher average altitude, and as well as climbing Toubklal and Ouanoukrim (4083) in spectacular wall to wall sunshine, we visited a lake and another beautiful partly terraced valley in a demanding three day loop finishing back in Imlil. The valleys cultivated and terraced by the local Berbers provided a welcome break from the rocky, arid and exceedingly steep landscape higher up. After returning to Marrakech we explored the world famous Place De Jema (main square), visited some of the city’s lovely gardens (full of wildly different types of cacti) and haggled ferociously for gifts from the bustling, colourful, and seemingly never ending souks.

Highlights of the trip included experiencing an out of this world view from the Toubkal summit along the Spine of the 1000km Atlas and to the Sahara and beyond, climbing the two highest mountains in North Africa, meeting some very hospitable and helpful locals, and a hilariously fun evening by Lac D’ifni which included a limbo competition and some seriously hard core night-time photography!

A full trip report will be posted soon, but in the meantime, if anyone is thinking about going to the High Atlas, I couldn’t recommend it more highly! The area is very cheap and easily accessible from Marrakech and the UK for that matter, and with some of the highest mountains in Africa and landscapes, culture and weather different to anything European, this has to be a prime location for any keen expeditioner wishing to venture out of the continent.