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Published: August 9th 2017
Geo: 31.1394, -7.92458
If you had no Idea, to confirm there are mountains in Morocco, not just desert. The Atlas mountains pretty much spans the country from north to south. Jbel Toubkal is the highest peak in Northen Africa at roughly 4100m and it is possible to trek to the summit in two days.
To get there you need a taxi. We got to the grand taxi station just after 7am and thought we were able to catch a share taxi, but an official said it was not possible and if we wanted to go straight away we had to pay 420 Dirhams which is like $45, as we need to get there early we had no option to take it. It seemed overpriced as petrol is very cheap in the country and it was only an hour and a half ride. Sure enough on the way back we paid 220 dirhams so we definitely got ripped off. Ah the joys of being a non local, very frustrating I can assure you.
We got there in the end, took a photo of the map otherwise they will ask 100 dirhams for a piece of paper.
Having the right equipment is essential, especially when trekking any
form of mountains. We thought we were well equipped but we were a little short on some needed Items. We borrowed a tent and took both our sleeping bags and some food for the two days and only the clothes on our back. Well we needed to get more food and water and probably should have taken more warm gear, but lesson learned. But the whole trek was amazing and beautiful either way and it wasn't that bad.
The trek starts in Imlil and makes it's way uphill and past a small town that wraps itself around the hill. We reached a valley where you cross multiple rivers. Locals sitting on donkeys and horses make it look easy as they transport supplies or gear for the tour groups. Not as cool as the big hairy yaks in Nepal.
We past quite a lot of tourists either doing the trek independently or in a guided group. But the age group of the trek seemed to be quite high. I guess trekking is more an age thing.
So far the only wildlife to be seen are little lizards and birds. The weather was pretty hot and we were going through the water quite quickly. It
was pretty tempting to fill the empty bottles with the river water coming from the melting snow, but it seemed a little off putting not knowing what could be in there even though it looked completely fine.
After a zig-zag climb for about 1hr uphill at the halfway point, the trail is a small gradual and constant incline to the base camp. We both were pretty exhausted and were glad to get to the base camp where everyone stays the night to push for the summit in the following morning.
The whole landscape is very beautiful and very rocky and rugged, The path is fairly rocky despite the constant traffic.
It had taken 7 hours and we set our tent up along with a tour group. We were immediately offered tea from the tour group guides and after setting the tent up we sat and enjoyed a tea and some fried food in the cooks tent as the cloud covered us and the temperature dropped. After thanking them it was back to the tent to rest, only to be asked later on to come back where they gave us the extra left overs that they had made for the tour group for
dinner. It helped as we only had a bread roll with tuna for dinner.
It was definitely a cool experience and they were all so nice.
The night was pretty horrible for both of us. We got limited sleep as we didn't have any mattresses so we were sleeping on a semi rocky surface. It was very cold at night and poor Anna was sick. A great memory I will have is going to the toilet in the middle of the night and seeing the stars, they were mind blowing and littered the whole sky.
So in the morning we headed back down as as we weren't in a good condition to go to the top and after talking with the guides, we probably weren't to well equipped clothes wise. So we left in the morning and 5 hours late we made it back to Imlil. The whole trek had been beautiful, amazing and unforgettable. Plus how many times can you say you have trekked in mountains in Africa?
We got in to a taxi straight away but still had a suspicion that we were still getting slightly ripped off on the price. After resting we went on the search for prices for
a tour to the Cascade d'Ouzoud which is a waterfall a few hours north of Marrakech. To keep the price low, the only way would be to join a tour for the day, otherwise getting there would be difficult and long by public transport and you are more than likely to be charged a lot more if you took a taxi.
The trip took 3 hours by mini bus and there were a few of us that went. Upon arrival we had a view from the top and then walked around to head down. We had been told we could swim in the water and a few of us were looking forward to that. But then we were taken in to a "shop" and explained about the process of making Argon oil and then told to have a look at the products for sale. Typical, not many were keen to see this. Then we were handed to a guide and told that we had to pay 30 dirhams each to the guide for a tour of the waterfalls that we had already paid for which was already included in the price.
People got angry and wanted to go by themselves, the guide
said you could pay if you wanted, so we all continued with him. It was silly cause he didn't explain anything except for stopping at almost every tree and telling us how many hundreds of years old it was and what type of which there was only a few, argon or olive and maybe one more. The guide was just a chaperone more than anything and didn't do or tell us anything and I am sure we would have found our way around on our own.
We got to the bottom and had the chance to swim in the water. It was pretty cold but very refreshing. It was pretty funny to see the very hairy Spanish guy go for a swim in speedo's.
After a swim we walked to a restaurant to have a bite to eat with some nice views of the waterfall.
At the end we were meant to go to another restaurant for lunch, but the guide had taken us else where and I think the bus driver and the owner of the other restaurant we pretty angry at him for that. Oh well. So the waterfalls were pretty nice, apparently the second highest in Africa after the famous
Victoria Falls. The waterfalls were really beautiful and add a little rainbow in the
mist and it feels pretty magical, the scenery around it also very nice, tucked in between gorges and hills. You could just imagine being the first person to discover it, what a memory that would be. And of course the place was no secret, with many food stalls, souvenir stands and tacky boat rides to the base. It was definitely a great day trip none the less.
We all piled back in to the bus for the boring 3hr trip back.
It had been a busy and full few days and it was only going to get more full on when we were due to go on a 3 day tour in to the desert.
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