The most challenging part of my travels around Morocco was the homestay with a Berber family, who live tucked away in the middle of the High Atlas Mountains.
Most of the group had bailed, put off by the thought of a tough uphill hike at altitude, followed by basic overnight living arrangements during an icy Moroccan winter. Instead, they headed for the creature comforts of a 4-star hotel in Marrakech, but I was determined to give it my best shot. Authentic adventures in a foreign country aren’t designed to be comfortable, but they are very real. So real that at the highest point for the day – 2 260m above sea level – my feet felt like blocks of ice.
My wiser travelling companions paid 100 Dirhams to hire a mule in Imlil (below) rather than hike, but I forged ahead (with my camera bag on my back!!) on foot. For a while two other mule handlers hung around as I battled uphill, hopeful I would change my mind , but they gave up halfway and disappeared. Short of breath from the thin air and sweltering under the 4 layers I was wearing to stave off the cold, I resembled a puffing beetroot, but I made it to the Gite* on foot, stripping off a few layers of clothing along the way.
The tiny village of Imlil is the centre of mountain tourism in Morocco, a base for those wanting to summit Mount Toubkal, which is the highest mountain in Morocco and North Africa. In Imlil you can hire virtually anything associated with snow and the mountain.
But we were headed for Aremd near the ski resort, which looked delightful covered in a sprinkling of snow.
And then the end was in sight where the dirt road stopped. It really was one of the most arduous things I have done, but I’m glad I persevered. I survived the walk into the hills and then the cold by piling blankets on. It was in fact the bed that was the bigger killer – two bases on top of one another rather than a base and mattress. The hardest night’s sleep ever ever 🙂 🙂 Little wonder that none of us showered the next morning and couldn’t wait to get to Essaouira on the coast for some warmer weather and some seafood – without couscous 🙂