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May 24, 2018
My last blog post left off at the end of our incredible time in magical Marrakesh (if you haven't read that one, you can find it here). That morning, we said goodbye to our beautiful Riad and hosts, and were picked up by our driver to start our adventure out to the High Atlas Mountains.
Now I need to back track a little to give a bit of background info - my partner, Graham, is super into the outdoors and hiking. When we were planning our Moroccan travels, he suggested climbing MT TOUBKAL - the highest mountain in North Africa! Even though at the time I had never climbed ANY mountain, I agreed to climb the highest mountain in North Africa (God knows why), I bought my very first pair of hiking boots and we started an intense training regime for the few short weeks leading up to the trip (we are very last minute kind of travellers!). LONG STORY SHORT - two days before jetting off to Morocco, I felt very unprepared and I had a little anxiety attack, and I decided to pull out of the Toubkal hike and opted for a two day trek instead (still a big challenge, but just not at 4165m altitude!).
We organised a two day trek through the Azzaden Valley, in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, through an amazing company called Aztat Treks. We arrived at our starting point (near Imlil) and met our guide, Ibrihim, our muleteer and cook, Ali, and our beautiful mule, who we nicknamed 'Ruggsy'. After a quick orienteering session and Moroccan tea, we embarked on our trek, walking through the peaceful landscape, so isolated and tranquil. We spotted many old Berber villages along the way, dotting the mountains with mud brick homes and ancient irrigated terraced fields of fruit trees and vegetables.
An old Berber village.
All we could hear was our feet scrunching the rocky scree slope, and birds whistling their tunes, as we trekked through the magnificent Azzaden Valley. We started the hike at 1600m, and ascended to 2200m at the highest pass, where we stopped for lunch.
Left: 'Ruggsy', our mule for the trek. Right: Stone piled high to mark the highest pass here - 2200m.
We set up a little picnic area with the most beautiful view. And oh my goodness, lunch was so delicious! Ali cooked up a feast for us - a fresh Moroccan salad with tagine cooked beans and crusty, soft bread. Oh, that bread! Followed by Moroccan mint tea (of course!), and fresh oranges and pomegranate. I will remember this lunch forever.
Enjoying a traditional Moroccan mint tea in the middle of the High Atlas Mountains.
The incredible view for lunch. Can you spot Ruggsy?
We kept hiking through the mountains, noticing the large number of beautiful wild juniper trees with their dry wood and light purple berries, and the earth colour changing from a dusty red to a light ash.
In the late afternoon we arrived at our 'gite' (accommodation) for the night in a tiny village called Tizi Oussem. We watched the sunset over the snow-capped mountains with ginger snaps, popcorn and mint tea, and settled in for the night in small dorm bedroom with a simple mattress on the floor.
The village where we spent the night - Tizi Oussem
We were up bright and early for breakfast and started the second day of our hike at 7am. First stop was Cascades d'Irhoulidene - a 100m waterfall high up in the mountains. We sat and ate a delicious nut mix (if only I could have that nut mix again - ridiculously delicious) and enjoyed a mint tea served from a little hut.
Left: Myself & Graham in front of the waterfall. Middle: Enjoying a mint tea with our local guide, Ibrihim. Right: A refrigerator, Atlas Mountains style - fresh icy cold water from the waterfall.
We were getting very high up now and I started to feel the altitude. We trekked to Tizi n'Mizik which is 2489m high with spectacular views. A friendly shepherd passed us with hundreds of goats. He picked up a goat and thrusted it into Graham's arms to hold!
Left: The local shepherd. Right: Graham enjoying a cuddle!
Along the way we had many interesting chats with our young local guide, Ibrihim. We nicknamed him 'Ibrihim the wise' as he was always telling us secrets to a good life. Three quotes I noted: "The purpose of life is to live in the present. It really is all we have", "Making other people happy makes you happy", and "Change starts with the new generation. And the key to change is education".
Ibrihim and Graham talking about the meaning of life.
Hours on hours, we kept on walking, and any moments we were just overcome with the incredible views, and serene nature.
The magnificent view - this could be a painting!
We finally made it to our lunch spot for the day (6 hours after leaving in the morning), looking over the Imlil Valley, for another scrumptious Moroccan lunch and tea.
Left: The view looking down on the Imlil Valley. Right: Our delicious lunch with a view.
And then down we went! A zig-zagging steep descent into the beautiful town of Imlil (with a few tumbles along the way - the scree is so slippery!)
Looking down onto the town of Imlil.
We arrived at our guesthouse in Imlil and oh, it felt like heaven! A hot shower, a plate of fresh vegetables and Moroccan chicken, and what felt like the comfiest bed I've ever slept in.
Those two days were some of the most adventurous, mind opening, beautiful days of my life. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone travelling to Morocco!
We did it!
I plan to put together a video of the trek soon -- watch this space!
Did you like reading about our travel adventures? Are you planning a trip to Morocco? I would love to hear from you! Write a comment in the box below.
May 25, 2018
I LOVE this blog! So inspiring & really makes me want to travel there & have some of my own adventures. And these photos look surreal! Thanks for sharing your stories :)
May 24, 2018
What an amazing couple of days. Your photos are wonderful – the colours in the mountains are exquisite.
I loved your story Treakjng in the High Atlas Mountains. What a wonderful achievement. The views and waterfall looked beautiful and the meals looked
delicious 💜 Cathy
Wow! What stunning scenery AA! Thanks so much for sharing x
Ave a cuddle! Looks great lovers!
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