Day 1 – Arrival
The flight grounded to a halt, 50 minutes late at 22:17pm. HURRY UP! shouted a airport security guard.
Me and a handful of others legged it through Casablanca airport, running in vain to catch our connecting flight to Marrakech at 22:35pm. We scrambled onto the plane in the nick of time, as waiting passengers looked at us in disdain. I stretched my legs across three empty chairs and sat in hope that my luggage made the transfer too.
Upon landing, I smiled happily as I caught sight of my familiar green rucksack trailing along the conveyor belt. I met up with our guide, Yousef, and I boarded the transfer bus, meeting 7 others on the same tour as me. We arrived at ‘Moroccan House Hotel’ and we were greeted by the sight of a mosaic reception, inside balconies and a hanging, multi coloured lantern as the centerpiece.
‘Room 22’ – I told the lady already that you were coming later. I wondered who I’d meet, I was currently the youngest in the group by around a decade and I hoped I’d meet someone like-minded and of similar age to me. I was sharing a room with Abi (also 22!), a medical student from Liverpool who I grew incredibly close to during the trip.
Day 2 – Imlil
After breakfast in a Moroccan tent on the rooftop of the hotel, we left our rooms and loaded a minibus with our rucksacks. We drove straight to the mountainous village of Imlil, ready for our light 1 hour trek to ‘Gite d’etape’. Our guide said in a nutshell “Marrakech 500M, Imlil 1700M and Gite d’etape 1960M“. The road weaved through beautiful mountainous terrain with glistening rivers, extensive hills and rolling greenery.
We hiked up steep, rocky terrain to hostel-type accommodation with a kitchen, shared dormitories and a balcony with a view. Upon arrival, we split into male-female rooms (17 of us in total: 9 girls and 8 guys).
With the afternoon free, Abi and I decided to go for a wander around the Berber villages and the mountainous surroundings. We walked aimlessly, passing a wooded area where I said “that tree looks really climbable”. Normally, I’m so used to disapproving replies such as “don’t be stupid” or “No.” I found it so incredibly refreshing when Abi said “that’s what I was thinking” and proceeded to drop her backpack and start climbing the tree. It is in these moments where I realise how much I love to travel, meeting like-minded people and experiencing the world in sync with others who share your passion. We strolled through dusty villages and rocky paths, settling on a wall overlooking a large plain with a mountainous backdrop. We watched children cycling past and mules trudging with heavy loads.
|Nom nom nom.|
Day 3 – Tizi Mzik (2489M)
Breakfast consisted of fresh Moroccan bread, tea and muesli. We set off on a straight forward dirt road, meandering through the mountains on a medium gradient. As we strayed off the road, the trek increased in difficulty with rougher terrain and steeper slopes. My breathing became increasingly ragged and shallow as we got higher and higher pass 2000M.
Several hours into walking, I began to use coping mechanisms in order to keep up with the guide. I would count in order to remain in pace: 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8 repeat. I would follow stride with the person in front so I could never fall behind. My back was drenched in sweat. By 2300M, the group had split into sections with Abi, I, and some of the guys at the front and the rest of the group up to 30M behind. At some points, I wanted desperately to stop, but I knew if I did it would only make it harder.
We gradually emerged over the pass hours later, taking in the sight of snowy mountains. A small mound of rocks and a hut marked the top of mount Tizi Mzik. I felt a massive sense of elation and energy upon reaching the top. Our guide patted us on the shoulder gruffly, and said “brave girls” as we waited for the rest of the group to emerge.
|Sweaty and tired – but happy @ Tizi Mzik|
Day 4 – Base camp Trek
|Camping in the clouds|
Day 5 – Summit Day!
Ascent: We woke at 5:05am to a freezing cold morning, with a sunrise on one side and a bright moon on the other.
A few hours in, Sarah pressed for details, asking the guide how long/how far we were from the top. I didn’t want to know. Not knowing was another defence mechanism for me. All I wanted to do was take it one step at a time. Much to my relief, the guide gave a very vague answer, only telling us to continue instead of quantifying the distance. Several hours in, we passed a icy wall and scrambled up a rocky ledge up to 4,000m!
|28th May 2013 – Mount Toubkal Summit Day!|
- Physical/Fitness wise: I thought the trip was hard but manageable. Mount Toubkal is a non technical climb and with the right mindset and will-power I think it is a achievable feat for most people.
- Don’t underestimate little things like bringing walking socks. I was really grateful for mine throughout the duration of the trip.
- I was lucky not to have experienced AMS (acute mountain sickness) during the trek. Bring paracetamol just in case!
- I brought a lot of snacks such as cereal bars/chocolate that I didn’t eat in the end due to lack of appetite. Fruit was a god-save during the hike (sugary and hydrating).
- It was COLD in the morning! (May 2013). Bring lots of layers. Hats and gloves really do the trick.
- The toilet at base camp consisted of a hole and rocks. Brace yourself :).
- After our trek, we spent our remaining time in Marrakech. Read about my Marrakech post here: http://www.days-of-adventure.co.uk/2013/06/marrakesh-organized-chaos-of-souks.html