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Friday, 30 October 2015 12:00 AM

A Holiday Day Walking In Morocco

Morocco might be a place for a holiday of cultural insight – a moderate Islamic country a short flight away from the UK – but it is also blessed with some outstanding natural beauty.

Your holiday can take in as little or as much of this natural wonder, ranging from the sandy Atlantic shores through to the awe inspiring barren desert, but for those holiday makers passing through Marrakech (or Taroudant to the south, I can thoroughly recommend the High Atlas Mountains.

The High Atlas Mountains

The High Atlas are a range of mountains stretching 700 km from close to the Atlantic coast eastwards inland to the fringes of the Saharan desert. They bisect Morocco just south of Marrakech with the region to the south, where the medina town of Taroudant lies, being more arid than to the north.

The mountains are truly amazing, huge peaks with many over 3,000 m and lush valleys with snow caps in winter and numerous forests making it a haven for half-day walkers and multi-day trekkers alike.

A Day Walking In The High Atlas

After a couple of days in Marrakech I have chosen to spend a few nights in one of the lovely boutique hotels in the High Atlas, near the walking centre of Imlil.

Imlil is only a 1.5 hour drive from Marrakech and the transfer is easy and comfortable, although the final stages are more winding to gain the final altitude of 1,800 m.

I wake in the morning and have a hearty breakfast before my mountain guide arrives for my day’s walk. My guide is qualified by the Moroccan authorities and therefore is insured (just in case, although I also have holiday insurance that covers this), and also has good English. He ensures that I have sun cream, a sun hat, good walking shoes and water and we discuss what type of walk I want before we set-off.

I have said in advance that I am after a gentle walk, and I chat with my guide that as it is a very hot day I would prefer a lot through woodland, without too severe an ascent or too much loose rocks (scree).

The day is magical. The views are inspiring, the air fresh and clear, the sun brilliant and I chat with my guide occasionally to learn more about the Moroccan flora and fauna and about Moroccan life.

An Exhaused Holiday Maker

By the mid to late afternoon we arrive back at my Kasbah. I am hot, sweaty and tired – I clearly haven’t done enough training even for a relatively light trek – but very happy. I take a glass of delicious mint tea to the roof terrace to unwind after a busy day and revel in the scenery. Then decide on a decent shower to recover before dinner at the Kasbah.

The accommodation is a little shabby compared to standards in Marrakech, but this is the mountain region and, as the sun goes down, there is something very romantic that the Kasbah is dark and as I eat my healthy tajine the peace of the mountains is clearly evident from the occasional dog barking or Moroccan housewife chatting nearby – sounds that would normally be drowned out by traffic noise.

If I was fitter, a few days more trekking in this beautiful landscape would be amazing.