College student treks Atlas mountains

College student treks Atlas mountains

The Challenge 

We aimed to trek three 4000m peaks in the High Atlas Mountains. A physical barrier between the Sahara and the Northern Plains, North Africa’s greatest mountain range is still populated by Berber tribes. Having researched staggering peaks [Jebels] and seen images of beautiful passes [Tizis] created by gushing streams carrying snow melt water northwards to the plains, I had decided to trek into two different regions: the Mgoun massif and the Toubkal range.

Route/Plan 

The plan was to start in the calcareous Central High Atlas, which stretches for 200km and reaches it’s highest at Oumsoud peak, some 4068m high. Upon completion of Phase 1, I was to be shipped off to the grantic massif of Toubkal/Ouanoukrim, the Occidental High Atlas, to try to summit Toubkal and her surrounding peaks. Our trek team consisted of a guide, a cook, two mules and a muleteer.

Day 1

Start point: Agouti – 1780m
Camp 1: Arous – 2200m
Temp: 35c and above!
Distance: 10k
Time: 5 hours

We left Agouti at 10am, after what seemed ages loading supplies onto the mules! The hot sun beat down on our progress, as we gained height walking into the Agouti valley. The valley floor here was alive with different crops and complex irrigation ditches, and the humidity was unbearable at times. 

Day 2 

Start point: Arrous – 2200m 
Camp 2: Tarkeddit Plateau – 2910m
Temp: 30-35c
Distance: 12km
Time: 5 hours

Under the recommendation of our guide, we left camp at 8am to escape the heat. We faced a hard, hot walk climbing some 1200m before descending another 500m through the Aghouri pass, and were rewarded with awesome views of the Ighil Mgoun. The sky was crystal clear and there was a gentle, refreshing, warm wind. Although the path was not too tricky, I stopped repeatedly just to take it all in – I had never trekked in such a beautiful landscape. 

As we descended to the plateau the guide educated me about the Nomads who travel here from the Sahara in summer to escape the heat, stopping along the way to see one of their dwellings. Although the area has no Atlas lions anymore, wild dogs and huge foxes roam the passes, and so the dwelling featured a stone Kraal to keep goats safely in at night – like a scene from the dark ages! Nomads store their belongings in these holes in the stone, to keep them safe and dry. 

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