Morocco: Marrakech – the Atlas Mountains! Summiting Toubkal

December 10 2019

Marrakech and Toubkal

I got in Sunday night the 8th around 5pm. The hostel was highly rated on TripAdvisor and I also saw it on a blog. 

I paid €20 for a bed in a dorm with 3 other girls. The beds were nice and had private curtains and lockers underneath. Very cleverly designed. The decoration was pretty and there hostel was laid out like a riad (courtyard in the middle) with a pool.

Inside the hostel

I locked my stuff up and then headed to find dinner. I was super scared at first. Walking around these crazy souks by myself. Of course I got pulled into a stall literally immediately and was stuck there for an hour. Guy first asked to draw my shoes, then wanted to drink tea, then wanted a selfie and wanted to wrap a thing on my head. He pulled some other girl in too and he got wayyy to close when wrapping it. I told him I had to go after the photo and left her there. I felt super bad but turns out she was in my hostel room. So I profusely apologized after when I saw her and she told me no worries she got out right after me.

Here we are …

I found Nomad- this tourist restaurant but it was perfect for what I needed. Something comfortable with veggies and no haggling. Little expensive for Morocco standards. Tea, starter, and main for $20.

Then I headed back

Next morning I packed up my things and stored them at the hostel, then I got picked up around 9am for my hike to Toubkal.

I must preface, I did like no research for this. I knew it was 2 days trip to summit and above 10k feet.

I figured I’d need water, charger, layers and a sleeping bag and so that’s pretty much all I packed. 

It was a 2 hour drive to the area. We picked up the guide midway. I didn’t realize the driver wasn’t my guide till that point but had to admit I was relieved bc he didn’t speak much English and I was curious how well we were going to get on.

We started in the town of Imil. I rented crampons and a head torch for 150 Durham (approx $15)

Berber villages on the way to the trek starting point. Berber are native people of Morocco

First day was about 10miles up to the refuge at 3300m

I was cold in Imil so put on my thermals and then was freaking sweating bullets.

We stopped for lunch midway and I had egg tangine. Pretty tasty.

Viola, egg tangine
On the way up after lunch

The refuge was way better than I expected it to be. (Again like I said, did not do much research). It was a proper building shelter with bunk beds, a kitchen, common room with fire stove. It was still really drafty but a tent would’ve been far more uncomfortable. There were two groups of Brits there and a Spanish couple. One of the British couples brought monopoly deal which was awesome. The 6 of us played till dinner.

Then we headed to bed around 9pm bc myself and the British couple, had breakfast at 5 am. The rest were getting up later but we were trying to go for sunrise.

5:30 am with crampons !

We got out the door with crampons on at 5:30 am. It was cold but I think I layered well and didn’t feel it too bad. My toes a bit but the ski socks Jeff brought me were life saving.

Up took ~2.5 hours and the first two parts were very steep. The last part was easier but that’s when you started feeling fatigued and a bit tired.

It got windy right at the end which was cold but also a relief that it wasn’t windy till that point. We made it right in time to see the sunrise. Which was fabulous. The British couple was the first pair up there and I was like right behind them.

I’m the person under the summit tree !

Then after some celebratory trail mix. We headed back down. It took like 1.25 hours back.

We had some tea. I changed my layers up a bit and then the couple stayed for lunch, but we kept going. We head back down to the original lunch spot from yesterday which was another 3 hours. So by 12:30 pm we arrived and I was starving and super tired. My knees started hurting and I was hangryyyy. Food stop came just in time bc I was starting to get super annoyed that we hadn’t stopped yet lol.

Ate a quick egg tangine and tea again and then back down for another 2 hours to Imil.

All in all around 18.5 miles.

The last two hours were easy but felt long. The ride back I was trying to stay awake since I didn’t want to pass out alone with the driver but it was hardddd.

I got back to the hostel and grabbed a beer and suitcase before I changed over to the next guide!

Ps if you’re interested in doing this, I used https://www.ouirganeguide.com/. It was very reasonably priced and included transportation from Marrakech, two lunches, dinner, breakfast, water, tea and lodging at the refuge. Abdollatif, my guide, was friendly, and set a good consistent pace up the mountain for me. He also seemed to know everyone in town which was great for getting the crampons, finding bathrooms etc!

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