From the bustling red city of Marrakech to the peak of Jebel Toubkal (and back), this trip far exceeded my expectations. The days in Marrakech that bookend the trek offer the opportunity to explore some of the main attractions such as the Jardin Majorelle, and, of course, the medina with its labyrinth souks and the famous Djemaa el Fna main square. Both are within walking distance of the hotel, which is of a good standard with very friendly staff (they will print your boarding pass for you, thankfully!),though i would recommend taking a taxi to the medina unless you are confident of the route. Most taxis hold 3 passengers and as a rule of thumb 10 Dirham per head is a good price. The trek offers a wealth of stunning and varied scenery and trails, from lush valleys and terraced fields irrigated by the rivers flowing from the High Atlas to the snow capped peaks of the mountains themselves. A highlight was the lunch on day 1 of the trek taken in a meadow. The trail is a combination of mule paths, rough, stony terrain, and scree ( and snow at the higher altitudes when we visited in early May). I have never used walking poles but these would have been very useful on days 4 and 5 when ascending and descending the optional high pass trek and Jebel Toubkal. Ice axes and crampons were needed for the Toubkal climb at this time of year and i found these great fun- it was the first time i have ever used them, but will not be the last! There was a great range of age groups and abilities in our exceptional group, and our tour leader Hassan and additional guide Mohammed who joined us for the Toubkal ascent managed the pace extraordinarily well, ensuring everyones welfare and giving everyone the best possible opportunity to achieve the summit- everyone who went for the summit made it. The views from the summit will stay with me from some time. Toubkal is tough and was my first high altitute summit for some time, and serves as a great foundation for some loftier peaks.
Our tour leader Hassan was magnificent. We had to divert from the itenery on day 2 which resulited in a comfortable stay in a gite rather than camping due to snow making a high pass on the traditional route inaccessible for our mules. Hassan expenmined the diversion in detail and our acclimatisation did not suffer. This was symptomatic of the whole trip which was flawlessly organised from start to finish. The food was amazing and supplied calories just when they were needed. What makes the quality of the food even more amazing was that for the most part it was prepared in a tent by a chef that had traveled with us . No-one was made ill by the food. I am full of respect for our tremendous guides, chef, muleteers and the magnificent mules that formed our team in Morocco and who do an exceptional job.
I highly recommend this trip for anyone with a sense of adventure, perseverance and with a reasonable level of fitness. Camping is basic so perhaps not for those who need their creature comforts, but it all adds to the adventure in my opinion and i wouldn't change a thing. Afternoon tea and delicious pancakes at the campsites were an unexpected treat ( if your group saves you any......protecting them from the wasps indeed!)