Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

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  • Reviewed April 2018
    Dave Farmer

    Winter walking

    I went on the winter ascent of Toubkal specifically as I wanted to experience the mountain in winter conditions and learn and practice winter walking skills with crampons and ice axe. I wasn't disappointed. We had excellent training with both bits of kit with plenty of time to practice during the training, and a chance to put the training into practice with an acclimatisation walk before the actual ascent. The itinerary allows for at least one days delay due to weather, and we needed it. The weather in the mountains changes rapidly and our guide was wise enough to know when to call off the summit attempt. The day we summited was pretty much perfect - blue skies, lots of snow and ice and stunning views of this beautiful country. It was harder than I expected - the height gain per day is greater than most other treks and inevitably on a shorter trek, acclimatisation time is compromised. But I have no complaints. We had a blizzard on the day we descended back to the bus, but our guide (Youssef) and assistant guide (Lassan) were both on top of the situation, and we descended safely and together for a welcome mint tea at Imlil. If you are thinking about the winter ascent (and haven't done winter mountain walking before), you have to understand that the weather conditions and the snow and ice add considerably to the difficulty but make for a much more rewarding summit. Marrakech is a beautiful city. I loved the contrast and really appreciated having a full day after the mountains to relax and enjoy exploring the city.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's tempting to say getting to the top, and that was a wonderful moment after the effort we had put in. But equally, bonding as a team so that we all got to the top together meant a great deal to me. Getting through the tough descent back to Imlil was, on reflection, an achievement that I was proud of, too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Youssef was knowledgeable and informative from the start. By the time we'd reached the mountains and completed the winter training, we trusted him so that when he said that we couldn't summit because the weather was likely to get worse, we knew he was right (and he was subsequently proved right). We learnt a lot about the country, the culture and beliefs, and the way the trekking business worked from him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you have the right kit. For the winter climb, your boots must be able to take proper crampons and be worn in. Mine were, but I still developed blister as the crampon straps tightened the boots slightly differently. Take plenty of plasters! I wish I'd done a little more aerobic/gym training instead of concentrating on hill walking. I've done Everest Base Camp and Kilimanjaro but this is different again - the ascent comes in short, intense bursts so that extra fitness is worth having so that you can enjoy the trek. In cold conditions, the drinking tube of a bladder system can freeze, as can the bite valve. Blow the water back out of the tube after you've drunk and tuck the bite valve under your armpit or into your jacket. Or take a smaller water bottle and keep it inside your coat. Horde your small change. In the mountain villages and refuge, there is next to no chance of breaking a 100dh note for single bottles of water or snacks. Similarly in Marrakech, I found the shop owners (even the supermarket next to the hotel) extremely reluctant to take larger denomination notes for small purchases. Jemaa el Fna is a fantastic place but is best visited after dark, when the square fills up and the food stalls are out. It's busy, noisy, chaotic and fun and not as intimidating as you may first think. Local families got here. But be sensible with your valuables and watch out for kids who crowd around you trying to sell you little glow sticks - it's a distraction while they go for your pockets. It happened to me and I felt two hands unzipping my jacket pockets. I just managed to stop them taking my camera and phone. Don't let this put you off. Just keep everything in inside pockets and be a little wary.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I found the food in Morocco wonderful. I have a problem with spicy food, which tends to upset my stomach, but this food was fantastic and I didn't suffer any problems at all. The food in the mountains, cooked by our own trek chef, was excellent and always fresh, surprising given the location. I didn't want to rely on bottled water because of the lack of recycling in the mountains, but it was the only practical way of getting enough water. I brought the bottles back to Marrakech with me. Take ear plugs for the refuges in the mountains, and prepare to share dormitories with the whole group. Crocs or waterproof sandals for the showers will make life easier. Go with an open mind, prepared to change plans at short notice, and you will be rewared with an excellent experience.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Caroline Brown

    My most awesome week of adventure

    I would highly recommend this trip. I had the time of my life. It was a perfect balance of adventure, fun, challenge, teamwork, culture and relaxation. First time using Exodus - very impressed, can't wait to book my next adventure!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing the steep snow/ice slope with crampons and ice axes for a superb view and awesome feeling of accomplishment!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was THE BEST. He guided us easily, we trusted him fully, he provided us with excellent information and was always available - nothing was a problem! He was also so much fun and easy to get along with - I miss him and everyone on the trip!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My advice would be do some winter walking if possible, if not walking and I'd also highly recommend a taster ice climbing session just to get used to crampons and ice axes. I did this and felt it was very helpful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I had the BEST time!
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Gillian McFall

    Mount Toubkal Winter Climb

    Really good intro to high altitude winter walking!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    An hour long picnic at 4,167m, soaking up the sun, sharing time with new friends and taking in the stunning snowy vistas!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hassan was excellent throughout the trip, looking after us on the hills and in Marrakech.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I was a bit worried about the grade 7 rating. If your fit, can cope with the cold and some very basic accomodation for a few nights - go for it!
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Michelle Knott

    2 peaks in 2 days!

    It was a tough slog but soooooo worth it! The scenery was exquisite and it's the perfect trip to learn new skills using crampons, ice axes and avalanche transceivers.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were lucky with the weather so had the opportunity to summit Ras Ouanoukrim the day after Toubkal. It was tough going up to the pass (the mind and body were still reeling from the previous day!) but then the technical scramble that followed was both exciting and challenging. The view of Mount Toubkal and Marrakech was incredible.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hassan was knowledgeable and good fun. He set a good pace and knew just what to say to motivate me on my way up to the Ouanoukrim pass. The assistant guide Mohammed was patient and always had a smile on his face.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need a good level of fitness and be able to keep a reasonable pace. 2 guides are required to get the group across the ridge for both the Toubkal and Ouanoumrim climbs so it's essential the group keeps together (within reason). Having said that I don't think I'm particularly fast and I made it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The dormitory experience in the refuge is just that.....an experience! Expect large bunk bed frames with multiple single mattresses laid side by side - it was a laugh but bring earplugs!
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Andrew Smith

    Mt Toubkal winter climb

    Overall had a fantastic time.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Both summit successes

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hassam was an excellent group leader. He had a tough decision to make regarding 2 clients, bur he made the correct one, due their fitness levels and experience. Any other decision could have put the whole group in danger.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Well worth doing this trip.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    James Dobbin

    Mixed weather, but amazing in the end!

    A really great trip with an equally great group of people & 2 excellent guides (Hassan and Mohammed). At the start of the week we had bad weather, a lot of snow and low cloud, our first attempt to climb Toubkal was stopped because of it. The following day, the weather was calmer and as we were climbing, the cloud lifted and the most amazing views of the snowy Atlas mountains opened up around us. It was blue sky by the summit, and totally amazing! The following day hike to the pass with views of the Lac d'Infini was equally stunning, another highlight of the trip. Food in the mountain refuge at Toubkal was really good!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Summit of Toubkal and the amazing views!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hassan did a great job, he was very experienced (as was his assistant Mohammed), he kept us safe, organised everything well and connected well with the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring some card games or board games in case of any bad weather! Bring plenty of warm winter gear, it really was arctic on the day when the weather was bad. Although water purification tablets were on the trip list, there was no need for them as there was plenty of bottled water available. In total I used £180 of local currency including £50 tips (based on 13.5 Dirham to 1 GBP). Make sure you exchange any spare currency before going through airport security on the way home, you can't exchange it in the UK. On arrival in Marrakech if anyone trys selling you a cash card in the airport, say no (just get real cash), some of our group got one and it was mainly useless, but they at least got it refunded on the way home. If you've got new boots for use with crampons, make sure you've walked them in before the trip.
  • Reviewed January 2016
    Helen Stockham

    A great week of two contrasts

    A great week with the contrast of the hussle and bussle of Marrakech and the mountain vistas of the High Atlas Mountains. We had a fantastic group to enjoy the week with. There was less snow than is typical at this time of year (snow only above ~3700m) however there was still enough to require crampons and ice axes on the two summit days.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The amazing views from Mount Toukbal and Ouanoukrim where we had 360 degree panoramic views for miles, and we could even see the dust from the Sahara. We were very fortunate to have two consecutive days of fantastic clear blue skies and sunshine .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hamid our group leader and mountain guide for the week was fantastic. He was very supportive, nothing was too much trouble, he was full of life and always happy. He was also very knowledgeable and had the health and safety interests of the group as a priority. He was very encouraging to members of the group who struggled a bit at times to help them get to the summits. Our second mountain guide for the four High Atlas days, Mohammed was also excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We travelled a day early to Marrakech so we had two full days to explore, in addition to the last morning before flying home. The trip notes are slightly incorrect: on the first full day of the trip (day 2) you actually have a leisurely breakfast in the hotel in Marrakech before travelling to Imlil, so you have lunch in Arround (and you don't get the morning and lunch in Marrakech). Take ear plugs and wet wipes for the mountain refuge (Mount Toubkal base camp) - as you sleep in very close proximity to your group members and the bathroom facilities are not the most pleasant. Warm water for the showers is very limited, so be prepared to not have a shower in the mountains.
  • Reviewed December 2015
    Arlene Mansoor

    Well & truly worth the views

    Loved my week in Morocco & up in the Atlas Mountains. Hassan, our guide, was exceptional. It was hard work & you definitely need to be fairly fit. But for all those days walking up & down, the views were worth it, especially in winter.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of Mount Toubkal! (& making it down again in one piece)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Perfect. Hassan was incredibly knowledgable having grown up in the mountains. He kept us entertained, was up for a laugh and never gave up on me. It was a hard slog. Him and Mohammed were just great. Exodus are very lucky to have such people working with them.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is demanding. You need to be fit. Walking uphill for prolonged periods was hard. Don't think you can wing it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a great trip and reasonably priced. You have more than enough time in Marrakech as well as the mountains. I would definitely recommend it.
  • Reviewed December 2015
    Katherine Miller

    Something very different in Morocco!

    3.5 days of trekking in the high Atlas and a wonderful tour in Marrakech. Day one is just a hike to the refuge (simple), then in the afternoon we opted to practice our crampon and ice axing. A long day, but not terribly physically challenging. The second day was Toubkal and was a little more physically challenging as it's an early start and the altitude starts to kick in. Also, some of the ways to get down from the summit were a little difficult to manage. The third day was the most difficult from a technical perspective. Not quite as physically challenging as Toubkal, but lots of crampons, ice axes and harrowing climbs/descents. The final day is a walk back to your departure point for Marrakech. The tour of Marrakech was amazing and I learned more than I've ever known about Islam and Islamic history. Totally fascinating!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The teamwork and guide support was inspirational. There's also something about looking across miles and miles of mountains to the Sahara that's inspiring as well!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hassan and Muhammed were both fantastic, supportive, and quite understanding when things got a little (okay, that's an understatement) difficult and emotional.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be ready for a challenge, but it's definitely all worth it when you're able to look back and say "wow, I did that!" ...and there are a ton of hilarious stories...
  • Reviewed November 2015
    Caroline Hughes

    Mount toubkal winter climb

    Just back from a great week, great group, great fun! Even though the accommodation was basic, the food was amazing and plentiful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was great to learn how to walk on the crampons and feel I accomplished something more than just climbing a peak.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    hassan was brilliant. A good combination of keeping us driven and keeping us entertained.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you physically strong as well as fit. I did a lot of circuit training and I probably needed to do more because walking in crampons is more physical than I expected.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It's a great trek - enjoy!!
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