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Archive for May, 2014

My travels to Morocco in 2014 – part 4

I was up at 4am so that I could be ready for the 5am ascent to the summit of Mt. Toubkal.

At 4,167 metres (13,671 ft), it is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains and in North Africa.

After my night of gas choking at the refuge, I had a splitting headache and vomiting. But I soon recovered after I got some fresh air that was lacking inside the awful refuge.

From the refuge the path crosses the stream and then begins a climb of a steep scree slope.

Looking up the scree slope from the refuge.

Looking up the scree slope from the refuge.

Putting my feet up.

Putting my feet up.

The path crosses a stream.

The path crosses a stream.

A waterfall next to the stream crossing.

A waterfall next to the stream crossing.

Looking down at the refuge.

Looking down at the refuge.

Looking down the scree slope.

Looking down the scree slope.

It was a clear morning but cold.

It was a clear morning but cold.

Getting higher up the slope.

Getting higher up the slope.

It had snowed overnight here.

It had snowed overnight here.

The sunrise over the peaks.

The sunrise over the peaks.

Looking down the scree slope.

Looking down the scree slope.

Seeing the peaks of distance mountains.

Seeing the peaks of distance mountains.

The route then climbs another steep slope to reach a col (Tizi’n’Toubkal at 3,940m).

The Tizi'n'Toubka col at 3,940 metres.

The Tizi’n’Toubka col at 3,940 metres.

Looking down from the col.

Looking down from the col.

At the col the route turns left (northwards) to the summit ridge of Jbel Toubkal.

The first sighting of the summit.

The first sighting of the summit.

Not far now....

Not far now….

Almost there....

Almost there….

The summit is reached.

The summit is reached.

The 4,167m summit is crowned with a curious pyramidal metal frame and views take in most of the Atlas Mountains.

It was crowded at the summit.

It was crowded at the summit.

The metal pyramid is covered in graffiti.

The graffiti metal pyramid.

The graffiti metal pyramid.

The view from the top.

The view from the top.

Rock stucture at the top.

Rock stucture at the top.

Me on the summit of Mt. Toubkal.

Me on the summit of Mt. Toubkal.

Enjoying the view from the top.

Enjoying the view from the top.

I could see for miles.

I could see for miles.

I could see all of the Atlas Mountains.

I could see all of the Atlas Mountains.

I made it to the top!

I made it to the top!

It was cold at the top.

It was cold at the top.

I did not have a pen on me!

I did not have a pen on me!

Not sure how they got this stucture up here?

Not sure how they got this stucture up here?

After heading back to city I decided to get p***ed!

– The End –

For more information about Morocco please visit:

www.visitmorocco.com

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My travels to Morocco in 2014 – part 3

Today I was going to climb up to the base of Neltner Refuge and the new Refuge du Toubkal. It is a seven hour trek from the village of Imlil.

These refuges are used as a base camp for trekkers heading for the summit. They are at a altitude of 3,207 m (10,522 ft).

The refuge is crowded but camping is allowed for a small fee.

From my lodge in Imlil I was having a traditional berber mint tea breakfast.

Having a mint tea for breakfast.

Having a mint tea for breakfast.

It was cold now that I was at a higher altitude but I was glad that I had my berber scarf on.

Seeing the sun rise in Imlil.

Seeing the sun rise in Imlil.

The route from Imlil reaches the village of Aroumd. Here are more tacky (fake) fossil stalls.

The mosque in the village of Aroumd.

The mosque in the village of Aroumd.

After leaving the village soon a floodplain is crossed.

Looking over the floodplain towards the valley.

Looking over the floodplain towards the valley.

In 1995, a flashflood killed 150 people in this plain.

The floodplain just beyond Aroumd village.

The floodplain just beyond Aroumd village.

The mountains can be seen in the distance.

The mountains can be seen in the distance.

The route then follows the left slope of the valley southwards.

The path then enters Toubkal National Park.

A sign marking the entrance to Toubkal National Park.

A sign marking the entrance to Toubkal National Park.

Climbing up the valley.

Climbing up the valley.

It got colder as I climbed higher.

It got colder as I climbed higher.

I could see the snow peaks in the distance.

I could see the snow peaks in the distance.

Even through it got colder, the sun was still strong.

Even through it got colder, the sun was still strong.

Looking back down the valley.

Looking back down the valley.

My mule was doing all the hard work.

My mule was doing all the hard work.

Looking back down the valley.

Looking back down the valley.

I was cold!

I was cold!

About three hours from Aroumd is the small village of Sidi Chamharouch, which has grown around a shrine. The village is centred around a large white rock that is a old berber shrine.

The village of Sidi Chamharouch and the shrine.

The village of Sidi Chamharouch and the shrine.

A mosque was built next to the rock and the whole area is now a islamic holy site closed to non-muslins.

As a non-muslin I cannot enter the shrine.

As a non-muslin I cannot enter the shrine.

At the village is numberous drink stalls and cafes as well as touts selling (fake) fossils.

A drinks stall at Sidi Chamharouch.

A drinks stall at Sidi Chamharouch.

This is the last village before the refuge is reached.

I stopped here for a mint tea or two.

I stopped here for a mint tea or two.

The path then leads over the stream and runs steeply uphill to the right side of the Isougouane valley.

I was getting closer to the mountains snow.

I was getting closer to the mountains snow.

Not sure what the danger is?

Not sure what the danger is?

Nearly there....

Nearly there….

Almost at the refuge.

Almost at the refuge.

Soon the two refuges are reached.

The first sighting of the refuge.

The first sighting of the refuge.

The refuge with it green fields.

The refuge with it green fields.

Arriving at the refuge.

Arriving at the refuge.

Soon after my arrival at the refuge it began to snow really badly.

It began to snow.

It began to snow.

In fact it was really bad….

My mule in the snowstorm.

My mule in the snowstorm.

I checked into a bunk at this refuge and soon I became very unwell due to faulty gas heaters in the rooms held together with duck tape. The smell of leaking gas is obvious as you enter the refuge. The heaters are lit with cut off DIY garden hose held with tape! So much for health and safety here.

After vomiting I decided to sleep outdoors for my own health and soon I became better again. Despite mentioning the gas leaks to the hut keepers, they laugh at me and insisted that I had altitude sickness (AMS)! So much for service. As I said I got better within moments of leaving the refuge so it wasn’t AMS at all nor could it had been food poisoning.

I strongly suggests that anyone climbing this mountain bring a tent and sleep out in the open rather than sleeping in gas fumes with 50 people stuffed into a tiny room shoulder to shoulder with the hut keeper shutting the shutters just to make sure that we all did get either carbon monoxide posioning or carbon dioxide poisoning. Either way oxygen was in a short supply in the refuge. DO NOT stay here and bring a tent instead!

Tomorrow at 5am I was going to start the five hour final ascent of the mountain and the summit.

To be continued….

For more information about Morocco please visit:

www.visitmorocco.com


My travels to Morocco in 2014 – part 2

Today was to be the start of my trek into the mountains.

The start of my trek was from the village of Imlil. Here guides and mules can be hired. To be honest to climb Mt. Toubkal, you do not need a so called guide but the touts in Imlil will try to convince you to hire one anyway.

The start of the trek.

The start of the trek.

I was to spend a day to trek around the mountain villages at a lower altitude before heading back to Imlil to start the two day ascent of Mt. Toubkal.

My guide led me up the path.

My guide led me up the path.

My guide was quite shy and did not like to show his face.

A village in the mountains.

A village in the mountains.

Stunning scenery in the mountains.

Stunning scenery in the mountains.

The village is around a oasis.

The village is around a oasis.

I was not impressed by the toilets provided.

I was not impressed by the toilets provided.

Me enjoying the sun.

Me enjoying the sun.

At this lower altitude is was around 17 to 22 degrees Celsius. This compares with Marrakesh being in the high thirties. The summit of Mt. Toubkal is below zero degrees Celsius.

It was very hot and dry at this altitude.

It was very hot and dry at this altitude.

I was glad that I had quality boots.

I was glad that I had quality boots.

My luggage mule stuggled to keep up with me.

My luggage mule stuggled to keep up with me.

Enjoying the view.

Enjoying the view.

It was very hot and I was glad that I had my sunhat on.

It was very hot and I was glad that I had my sunhat on.

Hundreds of goats.

Hundreds of goats.

They were everywhere, even up the trees.

They were everywhere, even up the trees.

My luggage mule was carrying my kit.

My luggage mule was carrying my kit.

My luggage mule.

My luggage mule.

It was also windy and my hair kept blowing into my face.

It was also windy and my hair kept blowing into my face.

Sighting of the mountains in ths distance.

Sighting of the mountains in ths distance.

I could see the snow top mountains in the distance.

I could see the snow top mountains in the distance.

The snow top mountains in the distance.

The snow top mountains in the distance.

The first sighting of Imlil.

The first sighting of Imlil.

I could see Imlil in the distance.

I could see Imlil in the distance.

The village of Imlil coming into view.

The village of Imlil coming into view.

The village of Imlil in the valley.

The village of Imlil in the valley.

My hotel was not as advertised in the brochure.

My hotel was not as advertised in the brochure.

Having a mint tea at a rest hut.

Having a mint tea at a rest hut.

I was knackered after my first day.

I was knackered after my first day.

To be continued….

For more information about Morocco please visit:

www.visitmorocco.com


My travels to Morocco in 2014 – part 1

I have just come back from a trekking expedition in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.

This is not the first time that I have been to Morroco as my previous blog shows:

https://britisharmysgtmonkey.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/my-night-the-desert-with-a-berber-tribe/

I was aiming to climb the highest mountain in the Atlas Mountains and also the highest mountain in North Africa.

A map of Morocco showing Mt. Toubkal.

A map of Morocco showing Mt. Toubkal.

The mountain in question was Mt. Toubkal at 4167m. It is located 63 km south of the city of Marrakesh, in the Toubkal National Park, and is a popular destination for climbers. Toubkal National Park was established in 1942, it covers an area of 380 km2. The first known ascent by Europeans was on 12th June 1923 by the Marquis de Segonzac, Vincent Berger and Hubert Dolbeau.

The mountain is not technical for climbing however it is steep and the ascent is hard going. During the winter, the mountain is icy and thus crampons and winter climbing skills are needed.

I flew into Marrakesh airport that is now served by budget airliners from the UK. However, I decided to fly business class as I am somewhat special.

Flying over the desert.

Flying over the desert.

After checking into my hotel I went over the map again to make sure that I knew where I was going.

I was studying my proposed route on the map.

I was studying my proposed route on the map.

I decided to spend a few days here to look at the sights and sounds of Marrakesh.

First on my wishlist was to see the Jemaa el-Fnaa square. It is part of the city’s medina that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Jemaa el-Fnaa square with the Moroccan flag.

The Jemaa el-Fnaa square with the Moroccan flag.

The square and market place is in Marrakesh’s medina quarter known as the old city.

The Jemaa el-Fnaa square during the day.

The Jemaa el-Fnaa square during the day.

It remains the main square of Marrakesh, used by locals and tourists.

The square is full of activity.

The square is full of activity.

Here one can buy fossils, souvenirs, carpets and other tack. Snake charmers and dancers here demand money for souvenir photos.

The square is the centre of Old Marrakesh.

The square is the centre of Old Marrakesh.

Shortly before noon on 28th April 2011, a blast originating in a cafe in the square killed 17 people and injured another 25. It is thought that it was a bomb attack.

Many tacky sourvenirs can be haggled over here.

Many tacky sourvenirs can be haggled over here.

I brought myself 7kgs of fossils although I think some of them are cement fakes.

The souk in the medina.

The souk in the medina.

I also got my auntie a tagine cooking pot for her birthday.

Olive stalls in the market souks.

Olive stalls in the market souks.

You can easily get lost in the medina.

My dinner being delivered to my hotel.

My dinner being delivered to my hotel.

Koutoubia Mosque is the largest mosque in the city. It was completed under the reign of the Almohad Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur (1184-1199).

Koutoubia Mosque is the largest mosque in Marrakesh.

Koutoubia Mosque is the largest mosque in Marrakesh.

The mosque is closed to non-muslins.

The mosque is near the square.

The mosque is near the square.

The minaret is constructed from sandstone and stands 77 metres (253 ft) high.

The minaret stands over the city.

The minaret stands over the city.

Next was to visit the city walls. The ramparts of Marrakesh stretch for some 12 miles (19 kms) around the medina of the city,

The old city walls of Marrakesh.

The old city walls of Marrakesh.

They were built by the Almoravids in the 12th century as protective fortifications for the city.

The walls were impressive.

The walls were impressive.

It was now evening time so I decided to go for a swim at my hotel.

Relaxing at the pool.

Relaxing at the pool.

The sun was going down.

Enjoying the sunset.

Enjoying the sunset.

I headed back to the square for dinner.

Having snails for my dinner.

Having snails for my dinner.

The sun sets over the city for the next day I was to head to the mountains.

The sun sets over Marrakesh.

The sun sets over Marrakesh.

I need an early night for tomorrow I was heading to the mountains.

To be continued….

For more information about Morocco please visit:

www.visitmorocco.com