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Popular Cultural Holiday
This is a small group guided holiday. The group is usually between 4 and 16 in size, with an average of 12 like-minded clients booking individually, in a couple or as friends together.
Download the detailed trip notes for everything you could possibly want to know about this trip, including detailed itinerary and full kit list.
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!)
The views from the summit of Jebel Toubkal
Exceptional. Very good communication skills, safety conscious with a great understated sense of humour.
Pack a pen in your hand luggage to fill in the entry forms, and ensure you stick to the times set by your leader for departure as getting through to the departure gate can take some time due to checks.
Walking sticks are highly recommended, and a good travel pillow for the tents. Always agree a price straight up before getting in a taxi and 10 dirham per head is standard for taxis, or 30 dirham for a normal taxi that takes three passengers. Hand gel/ wet wipes are a must for the daysack.
The 8-day trip is the perfect way to explore the High Atlas Mountains and get a flavour of Moroccan culture and history. It gives you time to build up to the climb, appreciate the scenery you're walking through and get to know your fellow trekkers. I really enjoyed the experience, and hope you do, too.
To start with; the company of my fellow trekkers - we were a diverse group, but we got on really well. We laughed, we encouraged each other and shared every experience. Priceless! This trip was also important for me as I'd last been to Marrakesh, the High Atlas, Neltner Refuge and Mt. Toubkal 30years ago as an 18 year old student. I wanted to revisit my memories of that time, and brought some of my old photos with me for comparison. Not unsurprisingly, much has changed over the years thanks to tourism, much of it positive, but there were still wonderful echoes of that journey to be found - for example; at Neltner I met the Grandson of the man who had managed the original Neltner Refuge back in 1988, when it was just a single stone 'hut'. Our guide, Hassan, had also worked there as a student, and it is possible that we had coincided 30 years ago! Amazing.
Hassan guided us with a firm but gentle hand throughout the trek. Trying to organise 16 people can't have been easy, but he remained unruffled in all situations. Thank you, Hassan, for your organisational skills, gentle humour and insights into the history and culture of the mountains! I would also like to thank the rest of the Moroccan staff, who fed us royally (sometimes under difficult circumstances) and made sure the camp was ready at the end of each day.
As advised in the trip notes, I would strongly recommend you come prepared with dry-bags to pack your kit into, especially your sleeping bag. We got caught in a storm on the second morning, and a couple of the group ended up with wet sleeping bags - not good!
Great to be able to walk to the highest mountain in North Africa and in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. No special skills or climbing gear was required for the trip. For this trip you needed to be reasonable fit and able to cope with moderate high altitude walking. The weather was kind to us, but there were numerous clouds around the top of the mountain meaning that our distant views were not clear. Close mountain ranges looked impressive. Lush green valleys contrasted with stark bare mountain tops. A walk well worth doing.
Reaching the top of Mt. Toubkal.
Group leader was very good. He had excellent local knowledge, knew the trip tracks and venue well.
This walk is not a stroll in the park. I would only recommend it for seasoned walkers who enjoy a reasonably hard walk in mountainous terrain.
Not recommended for families with young children or for those who usually go for 'strolls' in suburban areas.twp
Yes! When not staying in a hotel, you will always have a foam sleeping mat or full mattress if staying in a gite.
Danuta Janik - Customer Operations
You will need comfortable walking boots with ankle support, and something lighter for the evenings.
David Richardson - Sales
The EU recently banned the use of iodine tablets, therefore these will no longer be provided on trek. We advise you buy your own purification tablets in the UK (Biox Aqua drops are good) and take them with you. Bottled water can be purchased throughout most parts of the trip, yet please note recycling is not fully established in a lot of areas.
Danuta Janik - Morocco Operations
Expect it to be hot during the day with strong sun, mid to high 20s is the norm. However, there can be a cool breeze and you will need extra layers when you stop. As ever in the mountains be prepared for quick, unpredictable changes in the weather and have appropriate clothing for this. At night temperatures can drop to zero.
David Richardson - Sales
You may take out some gifts if you like, but do not give money - ideally take crayons, pens, writing paper etc which they can use in school.
Ian Langford - Sales
Unfortunately our local supplier does not have a reliable source through which he can secure sleeping bags so you will need to have this in advance of travelling. If you don't want to buy one, bags can be hired through TrekHireUK (www.trekhireuk.com).
Danuta Janik - Customer Operations
Anything you don't want to carry with you on the trek can be locked up at the hotel in Marrakech.
If you want an idea of the most basic refuge (Nelter refuge), you can have a look here, which should give you an idea.
Some of the refuges and gites on the mountain have sockets and electricity and there are showers (shared) at the gite but be aware they are basic and hot water isn't always guaranteed. Real soap or shower gel is fine. The beds have mattresses, so you just need your sleeping bag. They are basic but as long as you're aware of this, you should be fine.
Food & water
There are random places to buy water around the mountain, and also trekking up from the gite. On the actual ascent, you normally carry what you need from the hut, and this has been boiled and is drinkable. I didn't take any purification tablets with me and was fine. A camelbak is fine to take, although I used a water bottle. I wouldn't worry too much about purification tablets, we didn't need any on our trek.
It's also a good idea to take some snacks along, I stuffed my day bag with Snickers and energy bars before I left, which I was grateful for.
Clothing & equipment
Wearing shorts won't offend people, even in the villages. Trekkers are a regular sight on the route, so as long as it's not too revealing, it's fine. The people we met along the way were unfailingly friendly.
You might have some rain (although not that likely) but storms in summer are rare, from what I was told when I was there. A light waterproof jacket is really all you need, I would say. I took one and used it about the middle of the trip, but that was all. You could take waterproof trousers as well, but they're not essential.
Good walking boots are a must, you are climbing to nearly 4500m - walking shoes won't do it at all. The ground underfoot is rough a lot of the way, and there is lots of ascent and descent, so ankle support is essential. I don't think there's a great deal of difference between leather boots and synthetic, it's down to what you prefer yourself.
I also found a headtorch useful and would advise taking one, handy at night and for any early starts.
It's usually a 6am start for the peak. There are some steep ascents but they take it slowly, with maybe a small bit of scrambling. It's a good idea to use walking poles as well, for the steep sections and having something to balance on helps a lot, but maybe just one if that's your preference.
You can have snow at the top or earlier, and there was a lot of very late snow on Toubkal in 2011. Rain can also happen and we had one day of rain on my trip. Obviously it can vary depending on where you are and also local conditions, but expect it to be hot (20s - 30s) down in Marrakech and then a sliding scale the higher you go. Mornings and evenings will be the coolest. It's still hot on the lower slopes around the mountain but could get down to single figures at the higher reaches. You'll need a windproof/ waterproof jacket and a warm fleece, as well as the usualy layers underneath.
It's a pretty stress free trip, and the guides know what they're doing so you shouldn't have too many issues. Although the walking days aren't so long (usually 5, 6 hours max), you have a few days with big altitude gains so this can have an affect on how your calves feel the next morning.
Because they take it fairly steady, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery along the way (especially going over the Tizikert Pass), and there are some great valleys you pass through.
The guides will give advice as you go along, so listen out to what they have to say. But apart from that, trek slowly and make sure you drink about 4 litres of water per day.
You have the first afternoon there, and also an afternoon/ night/ morning at the end, so plenty of time for shopping. It's a busy city, with lots of tourists and some people do find the sellers quite pushy but I didn't mind it. The central square is constantly full of noise and shouting, people selling everything you can think of. The souks (markets) are very busy as well but not as full on.
People will ask you to come into their shop all the time but just smile and decline if not interested. The can feel pushy but have been doing it for hundreds of years and it's not just something for the tourists, it's the nature of their business!
Olly Leicester - Sales
You will find taxis everywhere but the only way to travel around the city and soak up the atmosphere is to jump in a Calesh! If there’s one thing, you do make sure you enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride around the old walled city or medina. Your hotel can arrange for a caleche to collect you pick one up from the ‘taxi rank’ at the entrance to the Djemma el Fna or main square.
Ben Roseveare - Marketing Director
Marrakech is truly a taste of Morocco at it's best. Grab a seat in the huge main square, the Djemma el Fna, and watch the world go by while sipping some mint tea. It's been a place of entertainment for locals for hundreds of years and is packed with everything from food stalls to snake charmers! The Majorelle and Menara gardens are also well worth a visit, and offer some peace in the middle of this hectic city.
At night, anyone looking for somewhere to chill out in the heart of the medina should try the Café Arabe, which has some of the best modern Moroccan food around, as well as great views from their rooftop terrace!
Kim Christie - Customer Operations
Moroccan cuisine is very diverse, with many influeneces due to the interaction of Morocco with the outside world for centuries. The cuisine of Morocco is a mix of Berber, Moorish, Mediterranean and Arab influences. The main Moroccan dish most people are familiar with is couscous, usually eaten with beef or lamb. Chicken is also very common and the importance of seafood is increasing, especially on the coast. Vegetarians won't have any problems either, although choice can be more limited in remote locations.
The common and tasty tajine is everywhere, a mouth watering stew with meat and vegetables. Green tea with mint is the drink of choice, and you can pick up bocadillos (sandwiches) from street stalls everywhere - you won't go hungry!
Olly Leicester - Sales
The Moroccan currency is the Dirham and cannot be imported or exported, as it is a 'closed' currency. We suggest you take your personal spending money in good condition notes, either in £, Euros or US$. Local costs - it depends! - £2-4 per day to cover postcards, small souvenirs, soft drinks etc; £15 a day for food is fine (if it's not included).
Danuta Janik - Morocco Operations
You are visiting a predominantly Muslim country, therefore you should dress modestly at all times when visiting cultural sites, and there may also be times when you are asked to 'cover up'. During your trip the tour leader will always advise you on appropriate dress for each day's activities.
If you are asked to 'cover up', you'll need to cover your shoulders, arms and legs. We recommend packing lightweight trousers or a long skirt, and a long sleeved shirt. Women may also be required to cover their hair with a scarf if entering a mosque or religious quarters.
Jim Eite - Product Manager
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