Toubkal, second day


For our second day at the Atlas Mountains we had a big walk scheduled: about 14 km/4 hour uphill trek to the passage to the next valley.  After breakfast, we packed our cameras and headed out of the Riad.

We started the walk following the main road. The outskirts of Imlil were busy with locals going on their day-to-day tasks as well as fellow trekkers.  The grey of the houses made the multicolored carpets on sale appear even more attractive. For a brief time, we found ourselves following the tracks of a group of British teenagers that were clearly going in the same direction that us but we let them go ahead so they didn’t spoil the peacefulness of our walk.

After a short time we got to a shortcut, a dry riverbed that would lead us to the middle of a small village. The walk became harder, more uphill, but it also gave us a new look into the life of the Berber people. It was as if we were backstage, watching their lives unfolding before us. It was impressive how they managed to build their houses on what looked like the walls of the mountain, arranged in man-made terraces. We crossed several goatherds and became slightly lost till we returned to the main road, now twisting its way up the mountain.

The snowed mountains surrounded us. Suddenly we felt ourselves a lot higher, with a different air, temperature, sun…  Our walk would take as from 1700m to about 2400m above sea level, and we started to feel it. The landscape also changed, no more plantations, no more constructions, just the ever twisting road, rocks, bushes and pines, with occasional streams. The walking became monotonous; the only highlight yet another goatherd grazing and the returning group of British teenagers, dressed for a summer vacation and not winter in Morocco.

After more than two hours of steady climbing, the road arrived to the pass and a majestic view opened before our eyes: surrounded by snow, we could see a green valley with tiny brown houses scattered here and there. Right at the entrance of the pass, a small café greeted us with mint tea. A group of men on donkeys arrived carrying the luggage of a group of tourists that had arrived right after us. Sitting in the sun, at the top of the mountains, drinking hot tea with Karla was one of these brief, perfect moments in life when you feel that everything is as it’s supposed to be.

The minute we started walking back, huge clouds covered the sun, right in front of us. It got a lot colder and we returned to Imlil a lot faster. It was downhill after all. Our walk had taken a little over 4 hours, 13 km and almost 700m in height difference.

When we got to the Riad, we had lunch:  Moroccan salad and a kafta (meatballs) and vegetables stew. We said goodbye to the manager, thanking him for a great couple of days. Our driver, Rashid, was waiting for us. He was going to drive us back to Marrakech by a different route so we could see another part of the region. After Asni, we turned left to Amizmiz, over green hills and then to Takerkoust, by a blue lake that supplies water to Marrakech, stopping here and there to take pictures. We got to Marrakech at sunset. We have changed the peace of the Atlas Mountains for the excitement of the Red City.

Apoio: riadjanane

[Texto de Òscar Buenafuente/Fotos de Karla Brunet]

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