Hiking in the Atlas Mountains is a must do for anyone visiting Marrakech. Just a few hours away drive away from the city, the Atlas Mountains are the home of some of Morocco’s most beautiful landscapes.
“Are you sure that you want to go?” J queried before we booked our trip to go hiking in the Atlas Mountains. “I’m happy to spend another couple of days in Marrakesh if you’d prefer”. “I’m keen,” I said breezily. “After all, we’ve lugged the hiking boots with us – it would be a shame not to use them. Plus, it’s supposed to be a lot cooler up in the mountains”.
Fast forward a day and I was panting my way up the steepest path that had ever been created (OK, maybe some exaggeration). While the scenery was a welcome distraction, it wasn’t quite a distraction enough from the fact that my thigh muscles were on fire and I was struggling for breath.
We were in the Atlas Mountains. Take a short trip out of Marrakesh, away from the Moroccan hammams and the medinas and you will find yourself in a world of craggy landscapes, small villages clustered on the hillsides and… steep climbs.
I thought back to my blasé attitude of the previous day with a rueful smile. It’s easy to talk about setting off on a trek up and down some pretty steep slopes. It’s a little harder to actually do it in practice. While the temperature was quite a bit cooler from the scorching heat in Marrakech, two hours into the hike and I was feeling fairly hot under the collar anyway.
We’d trekked from Imlil – a small town a few hours away from Marrakech. Imlil is also the starting point for the hike up to Jebel Toubkal, Morocco’s highest peak. You won’t be surprised to find out that’s a hike I’ll be leaving for another trip.
After slogging it up the slope, we walked through a wide and open valley filled with these cute fellows.
The remainder of the hike was far less difficult. We walked through the valley to a small village.
Our guide hinted that we’d be in for a bit of a surprise. He was right: I wasn’t expecting to come across a waterfall (it also served as a handy resting stop for a short while).
After that, it was a matter of winding our way down from the village to our guide’s house and sipping on some mint tea.
Not such a bad way to spend the day after all.
Alternative Hike from Imlil: Summit Jebel Toukbal
Hiking up Jebel Toubkal is best done over two days. The trek traditionally starts in Imlil, then goes to the Toubkal Refuge – a 5-6 hour hike, depending on your fitness levels. After this it’s a matter of getting up as early as possible and climb up to the peak. The summit is 4,167m so beware of altitude sickness. It’s a four hour climb to the summit, and 2.5 hours back down to the refuge after.
Want to really test your legs? Why not try Hiking the W Trail in the Torres del Paine National Park, Chile?
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