A great way to escape everyday work and to see a bit of Marrakech, meet some local Berbers and to trek around the High Atlas mountains. We were particularly lucky with the weather in the first week of January, with unbroken sun shine all day long. I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
The holiday was short, but the views whilst trekking around the High Atlas were simply stunning. I was very surprised to see snow. The trip notes mentioned a bit of snow during the winter months, but it was more than a couple feet deep in some places - enough for snow shoes. It did add to the spectacle and made the climbs more the rewarding (for me anyway, others in the group didn't really like the snow).
The food was described as basic, but in my opinion it was fabulous. Very tasty with the Moroccan spices. Perhaps a lot of staple foods, like bread, but it was always very tasty in my opinion - especially the lunches we had on the treks.
There was also the local people in the village that were very nice. We even had a Berber singalong/dance in the gite on our final night. And the people in Marrakech were very friendly- though usually after your money, they were very kind none-the-less.
The whole week was inspirational to me, just because there was such a mix of culture, activities and sight-seeing in this holiday.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Our trip leader, Hassan, was superb! He made the trip fun and was a great leader. I couldn't fault him one bit. Great thing was, one member in our group asked him if he could arrange for another guide to take us on the challenging walk on the final day (because the majority of the group didn't want to do that). He arranged for a fellow villager to take the two of us up to the lake, which was very flexibile of him (though we did tip the villager at our own expense).
Hassan also managed to keep his white hiking trousers spotloss, where as everyone else in the group picked up the Moroccan pink/red slush during the treks within a few steps. Goes to show his experience.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
It's great, just go! One member had her luggage lost by the airport, but she survived without her own gear! Just shows it's not too tough. Perhaps we were also lucky with the weather and I over prepared for the 'cold nights'. In the end, it was cold, but I didn't need my long johns or extra warm clothes. The sleeping bag (mine was 2 season) and the blankets (provided by gite) were more than enough for early January.
I read on someone else's review to bring some flip flops for the shower - I didn't. The floors (stone) were surprisingly cold and your feet will freeze pretty quick, so definitely worth taking a pair of flip flops.
As for the difficulty rating, moderate really only applies to parts of the walk. There was only 1 really steep climb on the first day - but it was very rewarding to get to the top and see the views. It was quite long though and at times I was out of breath.
The 'difficult' option on the last day in my opinion was easier than the first day's walk. The only issue is that it was long. We did it at quite a fast pace, so we managed it in 8 hours including stops. Most of it was flat, with a few gradients, and only 2-3 steep climbs - worth a try even if the lake is not too spectacular!
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
I came on the holiday knowing nothing about Morocco. So, I was glad there was a guided tour in Marrakech and that a few people in the group had guide books. It may be worth just picking up some information before you go, so you know where to look around in Marrakech when you have free time (there's about 2 full days in the city).
Up in the mountains, you're fixed to the itinerary, and we spent the evenings just chatting until 9pm before going to bed. Don't expect to be able to watch TV or go out in the evening, because there isn't much for tourists at the village, but it's a great time to bond with the group.