avatarLiam James H

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Hiking Mount Toubkal: Part II

Part I — https://readmedium.com/hiking-mount-toubkal-part-i-9c7d44f626b1

Our journey to the submit of Toubkal was not short of issues!

The first problem we encountered was getting to our accommodation. Inconveniently situated above the village of Imlil, there was no direct road access. For some time, our taxi driver was trying to contact the owner of the establishment for help but grew more and more frustrated with every failed attempt. His determination got the better of him, and instead of dropping us off next to a footpath and making us walk uphill, he decided to divert his car offroad, along a dirt path adjacent to sharp drops into the valley below. We all nervously laughed and held on tight. 10 minutes on that road seemed like an eternity, but we finally made it to the entrance. We thanked the driver and headed inside.

We were staying at a stunning Riad that boasted 360-degree views of the mountain ranges that surrounded us.

Imlil, Morocco — Photo by Author

From Imlil, the world seems sculpted by giants. Jagged peaks of the Atlas Mountains, draped in ochre and emerald, pierce the sky, their shadows tracing valleys carpeted with Berber villages like scattered pebbles.

After spending some time appreciating the view and freshening up, we headed into the village to find ourselves a guide and grab lunch. The cold mountain breeze on my face was welcomed after spending a 2-hour car journey with 6 people and no air conditioning. Everything was starting to seem more real.

We enjoyed a quick spot of lunch next to the Rehraya river, which runs through Imlil. The sound of the crystal-clear waters splashing on the rocks was idyllic has we drank fresh orange juice and tucked into a chicken tagine.

Food by the river — Photo by Author

Then it was time for business.

Since 2019, it has been illegal to climb Mt. Toubkal without a guide. Due to the horrific murders of two European women in 2018, you are required by law to be escorted from Imlil to the refuge, and then the refuge up to the summit.

When it comes to finding a guide, you have 3 options: book in advance online before you arrive in Imlil. (the most expensive, but the easiest option), visit the guide center in Imlil, or find a guide on the street (not recommended as many unofficial guides)

Many describe hiking Toubkal as moderately difficult due to the high altitude, so it’s important to be as prepared as possible beforehand.

There are also various routes and paths, so it’s vital that you chose the right path that is suitable for your experience and level. We decided on the 2-day hike to the summit.

It took us a while to not only find the building where the guides are supposed to be, but even longer for someone to turn up and speak to us.

Imlil, Morocco — Photo by Author

Eventually a father and son duo greeted us, invited us into an old room and gathered us around a table to discuss our plans. None of the chairs had stable legs and the table had multiple nails sticking out of it, so we should have known at this point that safety was not top priority.

After some haggling, and by haggling, I mean saying numbers and being shot down, we eventually accepted a price.

It was much higher than what we had planned on spending, but we had travelled a long way to be there, nobody else was around, and it was illegal to do the climb without a guide, so our hands were tied.

To add insult to injury, it was cash only and between us we didn’t have the money to pay for their services.

We were sent to a village back towards Marrakech in a high-priced taxi to the nearest ATM to replenish our funds.

“Do we need to rent crampons?” I asked as we waved goodbye to the guide and jumped in the taxi.

“No, it’s not Icey at the top” one of the men replied.

SPOILER ALERT: He was wrong.

The next morning, our guide met us at our riad and off we went.

Let’s go! — Photo by Author

As we left the village, our guide didn’t look sure whether the authorities would let us climb due to the rain…

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Travel
Hiking
Morocco
Toubkal
Imlil
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