Beautiful scenery, amazing people, truly remote and challenging trekking.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Summiting the pass of Tizi n'Ouanoums was nothing short of spectacular. The day began by climbing the Ouanoums Gorge in a thunderstorm, with lightning cracking through the dawn onto the ridges above us. It then saw us zigzag our way up an impossibly steep looking slope and we were rewarded for our efforts with beautiful views into the valley to our west and the peaks beyond.
Watching two Golden Eagles soar above us as we relaxed in the sun at the final gite outside Aremd was incredible.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Mohammed was an excellent guide and obviously very much in love with the countryside and outdoors. He was quietly efficient in ensuring each camp ran smoothly and out on the trail was brilliant at setting the pace and picking picturesque rest stops. He created an excellent balance in information too, highlighting interesting things about the culture, villages or nature around us, but never overwhelming us and encouraging our own questions.
It's also well worth pointing out he and his team did this trek during Ramadan, so were fasting from around four am to seven thirty pm each day. If they're all this good during Ramadan, I can't imagine what they're like full of food!
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Clothing-wise, don't be fooled into thinking it's always going to be hot. In two weeks we saw 45 degree heat, gusting winds at 2,500m and mountain thunderstorms which arrived and disappeared with extraordinary speed. Tied to this is making sure your possesions can stay dry too. Dry bags or big zipseal bags for essentials mean if you're ever caught out, you don't have to be uncomfortable.
Take sandals or trainers you can get wet (i.e. not the shoes you wear each evening). There is one day when the walking begins by following a river for around 90 minutes, crossing it repeatedly and often wading upstream. They'll also make the occasions at the end of the day where you can get fully submerged much easier, and trust me, getting a full wash is a treat not to be missed.
Take water treatement pills. There's always a ready supply of river water in camp, courtesy of the muleteers and though you can purchase bottles in some places, you'll (or the mules'll) have to carry all your rubbish out with you.
Although the trip notes say a mattress is provided, taking a Thermarest was great for me. It was an added layer of comfort at night and meant the guys supporting us had something comfy to relax on in the afternoons after making breakfast, pulling down the tents, packing the mules, overtaking us and pitching the entire camp again. Trust me - they earned it!
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Fitness-wise, there are certainly challenging days on this trek but there are also easier days and options to cut around some of the steeper, harder terrain. No matter what, the views are incredible. I figured if I was moving slowly, I just got to see each awesome view for a bit longer and the group was always able to stay together, so there was no hares out front and tortoises at the back situation each day.
Food and fuelling yourself is very important and we got both a wide variety and mountains of food, including refreshing fresh salads at lunch, meat or fish each day and plenty of freshly made bread from Ibrahim, our exceedlly talented chef.
Get out into Marrakech when you get back. It's tempting to sit by the pool, but the city really is amazing, with plenty to see and much more than Exodus can pack into the morning city-tour.
The only negative of the whole trip was related to our tents. I felt they were not up to the high standard of the rest of the trip and have raised my concerns with Exodus.
In light of this, I've gone for four stars instead of five. However, there is no doubt that this is an exciting and memorable trek and nothing short of outstanding value for money. Let's put it this way, for £'s per day, you'd stuggle to get two weeks in the Lake District, never mind some of the most spectacular scenery in North Africa.