Turtle, Ecuador

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54 Reviews

  • Reviewed January 2013
    Anonymous

    MT TOUBKAL WINTER CLIMB

    A snowy challenge in the company of a good group and excellent guides. Fantastic holiday achievable in a week.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Looking down a steep snowy slope which we'd just climbed on crampons (my first time).The summit of Mt Toubkal.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Helpful, encouraging, felt very safe. Changed the schedule so that we did Mount Toubkal on the first day - a good call as a storm came in on the evening of the 2nd day and though we walked that day, the ridge to the 2nd peak was too windy for us to get to the summit.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Refuge is quite basic but is fine and a good location at the head of the valley. I had down booties which were great in the refuge to keep feet warm, especially when getting up for the loo in the middle of the night. If noise affects you take ear plugs for sleeping at night in the dorm. One of the accommodation had a very smoky lounge (from the stove which provided the only warmth in the room). If you have asthma I'd check with Exodus what the current situation is, as it might cause you problems.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It is a good trip if you want to try out walking on snow. I found it quite challenging - hauling myself out of snow when I broke the crust/soft snow and contouring round a steep slope. However, the guides were there to help and as walks are based from the refuge it is possible to return early.
  • Reviewed December 2012
    Anonymous

    MT TOUBKAL WINTER CLIMB

    A fantastic adventure giving the majestic mountains and the bustle of Marrakesh

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Toubkal summit in perfect winter conditions, crisp frozen snow, sunshine and a virtually empty summit

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, kept a good pace whilst looking our for everyone, changed the plans so we summited Toubkal on the first day to make the most of the great weather.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take warm clothes and be prepared for the the cold of the Gite. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Miss out the cold Gite and walk straight to the refuge, would give more time on the mountain and extra time in Marrakesh
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    MT TOUBKAL WINTER CLIMB

    A winter climb close the Sahara. Surreal?

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Summitting Toubkal was obviously *the* main and satisfying goal.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We've not had a duff Exodus trip leader yet.  Mohammed was no exception to this - he was all round excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Layers, layers, layers (ambient temperature, wind and wind chill can vary enormously).Include fleece, windstopper / waterproofs for both top and bottom layers.Don't expect "western style" accomodation - staying at/above the stables at the refuge is pretty basic!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There is likely to be plenty of free time in Marrakesh ......For a little culinary oasis in the souk, head north west from Djemma El F'na, through the next small square Place Baba Fteuh, exit north west up Rue Mouassine to the junction with Rue Ksour, head up the stairs to the chique terrassed french restuarant that overlooks the souk and serves delicious drinks and bites at very reasonable prices.If you want another Marrakesh 'oasis', don't miss the splendid Marjorelle Gardens, 8:30am, before the crowds arrive, then explore their quaint but magnificent Berber museum.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    MT TOUBKAL WINTER CLIMB

    A great adventure just a few hours flight from the UK!  Stunning scenery and great people.  Highly recommended.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Daily treks out of the Neltner Refuge into stunning mountains. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both Hassan and Mohammed were excellent leaders and guides.  Very friendly, informative, helpful and supportive.  Very good at setting a pace appropriate for all members of the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you have good quality boots that allow crampons to be fitted to them.  Boots with good ankle support is, I think, essential.  Remember to include clothing appropriate for a layer system as even though you may be in a cold environment intially, you will quickly warm up once trekking in the sunshine.  Carry some antibiotics in case of travellers diahrroea.  I was ill only for a day but was glad I had some Ciprofloxacin to hand!  Make sure you drink plenty of water each day - aim for your urine to be clear (this may sound rather crude but it's an easy way of seeing how well hydrated you are).  Wet-wipes / toilet roll are good to pack for when you are at the gite and at the refuge.  I found having two trekking poles to be very helpful on ascent and descent.  The Neltner refuge can get quite busy and crowded but there is not too much to do there so make sure you bring some music to listen to / DVDs to watch if you have a means of watching them / playing cards / travel games / good books etc.  If you smoke then buy cigarettes in Imlil or Marrakech as you can't buy them at the refuge or in Armoud.  On your last night in Marrakech, ask the guides about the excellent Berber restauraunt not far from Djemaa al-Fna.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Overall, a great trip.  I felt totally relaxed whilst trekking amongst stunning mountains.  I will return to the Atlas Mountains again in the future.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    MT TOUBKAL WINTER CLIMB

    I found the trip to be very well organised, with friendly and competent staff.  The whole experience of the trek in, the climbs up, and the views are something to stay in the memory for years.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It has to be ascending Toubkal.  The sense of achievement will last a long time.  But also something else.  When we got to the refuge in murky weather, suddenly the clouds parted and our route up Toubkal the following day was revealed.  I think it took all our breaths away.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was very friendly and communicated very well.  On the walk in, walk out, and the climbs both he and the other guide both worked well together, one at the front the other at the rear and took good care of us.  The cook produced really good meals in the Gite and the refuge.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Altogether the walk in, the climbs up Toubkal and Ouanoukrim and the walk out call for some stamina.  The guides keep the pace easy and you can do it.  The refuge at Toubkal was basic but no more so than I had expected with a wood stove providing warmth in the lounge area down stairs but with an unheated dorm upstairs.  Be prepared for some heavy breathing / snoring but be tolerant; everyone snores at times I don't care what sex you are.  It's part of using a refuge in the mountains. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Regarding tips, the tour guide will work out how much to give to each of the muleteers, cook and second guide.  This worked out about £20 from each of us (8 of us on the trip) as per the trip notes but excludes the tip for the tour guide himself which our team worked out between us and came to about £10-£12 each.Lastly, watch out for the final group meal.  If you are taken to somewhere new, ask to see the menu straightaway or ask about prices beforehand.  We got stung for an expensive meal and everyone admitted afterwards to being too polite or embarrassed to say anything at the time.I'm still giving the trip 9/10 because it was brilliant.  
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    MT TOUBKAL WINTER CLIMB

    This holiday was most enjoyable and a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. We had A LOT of snow which meant that we had the true winter climb experience even in April. The mountains were gorgeous, so much so it is a bit of a shock arriving back in Marrakech.Also met some awesome walking buddies on this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The day after the Mt Toubkal ascent we couldn't climb the second highest peak due to very strong winds but we still had a great day trekking through the deep snow and sliding downhill on our bottoms!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mohammed was a fantastic leader, he was well organised, had the right amount of discipline to get us to where we needed to be at the right time, but was also flexible. His English was fantastic and he also had a great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are a couple of items on the optional kit list that I think should be mandatory - snow (ski) goggles and gaiters. I had both of these and was very thankful to have them given the amount of snow we experienced. Also lots of warm clothes - particularly items you can quickly put on when having a break whilst trekking (eg down jacket) to stop from getting too cold.Sunscreen needs to be added regularly - I (and some others) got a bit burnt back of the neck!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are thinking this sounds a really hard trip, it wasn't. The pace going uphill was relatively slow and one of the local guides will trail-break (particularly good news if the snow is deep).
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    MT TOUBKAL WINTER CLIMB

    A weeklong trip that somehow manages to squeeze in a bit of everything into the time you are there.  From the hustle and bustle of Marrakech to the peace and tranquillity of the high Atlas, this trip packs it all in.  A really great trip, definitely one to go on and you don’t have to be that experienced!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    On the way up to the refuge and the summit of the mountain, you don’t get to see a clear sight of the actual summit.  It’s not till you are quite close that you finally get to see the marker above you.  However, once you are finally there the view is stunning.  The panorama is breath taking, the snow capped flanks of Toubkal give way to the greens and browns of the foot hills and plains that stretch into the distance as far as you can see.  What better reward can you ask for after a morning’s mountain climbing?I also found the second day to be just as exciting, as the summit day.  We ascended the summit in clear weather with glorious sunshine, which made the views spectacular.  However the next day was in stark contrast, plenty of snow had fallen over night and was continuing to fall all day.  Visibility was dramatically reduced so we were unable to climb much higher than 3800m, but saying that we still managed to get to near the top of some adjacent peaks.  This truly felt like a winter climb as we made steady progress both up and down the mountain in the falling snow. You couldn’t see much, but was a great day out from the refuge with fun being had by all who went on it.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader Hassan was really friendly and fun.  He had a great sense of humour that ensured that we had a really good trip.  Mohammed the mountain guide was also great, although his English wasn’t as good as Hassan’s he still made sure that we had a good time up the mountain.  Both were really good and looked out for our safety, overcoming the changing weather and kit with a calm and professional demeanour.  The cook always managed to rustle up fantastic meals that were so welcoming after a day of fun in the snow. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    On arrival in Marrakech it is quite warm in the sun, so it’s a good idea to pack a few warm weather clothes.  However, for a good deal of the time up the mountain it will be cold, so pack warm clothes too.  As advertised the refuge is quite basic, so don’t expect too many mod cons.  Whilst there is a fire in the main lounge area it can still get quite cold inside, especially with the lack of internal doors on the ground level, so pack some warm clothes to wear around the refuge itself.  I took a down jacket with me that came in handy at various points on the trip.  Take a good book, and a pack of cards, that way you can have a peaceful moment to yourself or have a social game of cards with the rest of your group, guides and other residents of the refuge.  Definitely don’t forget to take some ear plugs, you will probably need them.When you arrive try to get a bunk bed away from the door and walls and if possible on the lower levels.  I had an upper bunk for the first night and got a bit damp from all of the condensation in the room at night.  Moisture also means that the floors in the refuge can get quite slippery, so take care, especially when going up and down the stairs.  There is also a shower, but be warned, there is not an endless supply of hot water and it can run out, leaving you to have a cold one, and that is really quite bracing!  Still, it is possible and well worth it if you want to clean up.  There were a couple of plug sockets so you can charge batteries and phones (though you will have to share with everyone else).  The refuge can also get quite busy, so despite not seeing may people on the way up to the refuge, it was surprising to see just how many people were staying there.  When it is busy it does mean that it’s not always possible to get a seat in the lounge, but there are other places to sit and have copious cups of sweet tea - not always mint!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This isn’t a technical climb, and slow and steady progress at your pace should see you to the top.  You don’t need to have all of your own kit, as you can hire equipment when you book.  Age should not be a problem, as we were passed by another group that consisted of members all over 60.  There is a possibility that you might suffer from some altitude problems, most of our team made it to the summit with just mild breathlessness.  The guides will go at the pace you need to go and there are plenty of chances to stop and rest if needed.Go on! Give it a go.  You'll be glad that you did.
  • Reviewed March 2012
    Anonymous

    MT TOUBKAL WINTER CLIMB

    A really good trip with likeminded people. Excellent local guides who were flexible and gave us an insight into local culture and life in the Atlas Mountains as well as leading us up the mountain.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Great group and numerous laughs.Being at top of Mount Toubkal, despite feeling effects of altitude!Fantastic scenery, particularly in the snow and sun.Visit to local Hammam was definitely memorable!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both were excellent. Confident, professional and very focussed on our safety and well being.Adapted calmly to request to amend itinerary as a result of altitude issues.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Refuge and guest house colder than expected - really do need to take warm clothes and down jackets do make a difference ihn the evening.Advice given on need for very stiff boots not quite as essential as expected.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    THis was a really great first trip with Exodus and we will certainly look at others in the future.
  • Reviewed February 2012
    Anonymous

    MT TOUBKAL WINTER CLIMB

    This deserves the challenging rating The notes aren't correct you spend three nights at 3200m You ascend 1200m on the first ascent but don't lose 900m as the trip notes sayOther wise they are OK So it is a night in Marrakech, a night at arounf 2000m, 3 nights at 3200m, then in revers a night at 2000m and a night bak in Marrakech I normally do circular walks - however this works given the terrain - one way in one way outLocala told me it looks most beautiful at the end of June early July - well it looked stunning in winter and it was great winter walking  

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    seeing the ranges of mountains beyond - I don't know why but I though it was going to be desert - the region is far more mountainous than I had realised

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The team leader (Mohamed) the porters, cook, and abdullah (guide0 were all fantastic - wish i could have them on every trek!It is worth brushing up your french for when explanations in english don't quite work 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The kit bag is a single trip bag - most failed at one end if the big handle was used - the bag is not ergonomically designed - a ruck sack is better...That said I am going to use the kit bag t store old gear because its shapes means it uses space efficiently in storageUse exodus - they use local guides and leaders with an abundance of knowledge - I don't think a question went unanswered...Haggle in the souks - don't pay the first thing they ask for - if you wouldn't pay 50% of where they start walk away - your best haggling is unlikleyt to get you much better than 50%Don't eat in the square when they are warming up yesterday's left oversBeware that everyone that approaches you is likley to want money from you - its not your charm... 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think the title is misleading - this is a winter ascent - not a winter climb - although there are opportunities to ice climb etc they are not part of the itinary - I know it may be sematics to some - but this is a winter trek with several good ascents - rather than a climb which to me means using arms as much as legs... Many people take trekking poles - a long handled ice axe (or two) would be better Take your own crampons - those you hire have seen better days.   Drink lots of water - it is the only way your body can get rid of the excess carbon dioxide - if your wee isn't like fine champagne then drink more water  
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    MT TOUBKAL WINTER CLIMB

    A good introduction to using crampons and ice axe, not as beutiful as the trip to Morroco I did before but it is the middle of winter.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The ascent of the second peak beat the ascent of Toubkal as the scenery and variety of the ascent was alot more impressive.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, very professional and explained the safty aspects of walking on snow or ice. Perhaps his dry sense of humour was down to spending alot of time with exodus clients.