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Adventures of a short vet

Biking and hiking to our first mountain gite

MOROCCO | Sunday, 17 October 2010 | Views [571]

Not a bad view - well worth the pain!

Not a bad view - well worth the pain!

We had an early start (one of many) to catch a minivan out to the start of our bike ride into the mountains. The first leg was the worst (well it felt like it) with a massively long hill, but I was surprised at how I was able to keep going despite months out of the saddle. It truly is like riding a bike. It was all worth it for the amazing views from the top of the first hill. The downhill runs should have been more fun but my brakes were a bit dodgy and I didn’t want to risk picking up too much speed and going over a cliff edge, especially with a helmet that felt paper-thin. My arms and hands were soon stiff from my deathgrip on the brakes! We were glad for a break of local mint tea at a house on the way and were introduced to the customary pouring and serving of the tea which we would come to welcome in the days ahead.

After a final leg-breaking hill climb on which most of the group had to get off and walk for a time, we finally stopped for a picnic lunch by the river. After lunch we jumped back into the bus and headed to our first mountain gite in Aremd Valley, near the base of Mount Toubkal, which at 4,167 metres, is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains and in North Africa. We stopped in the village of Imlil to drop off our main bags at a hotel and carried smaller overnight bags on a 45 minute hike up the mountain to the gite where we were greeted by our host who went by the nickname of “Tagine”. He was very welcoming and introduced us to his young family before showing us to our shared rooms where we dumped our stuff and were happy to find that there was even a hot shower available. After a long day we were happy to have an early night following a delicious home-cooked tagine and couscous meal.

The following day we woke up bright and early for a fortifying breakfast of eggs, Moroccan bread and strong coffee before setting out on our 8 hour trek through the Imane Valley. The trek was right up into the hills through local villages where kids pestered us for sweets and money which we were advised not to give in order to deter begging. Instead we were to give to the local headman or contribute to the community by buying their tourist souvenirs. After a painfully long climb we arrived at the top of the pass to take in an amazing view and have a drink at a random little shop, before heading down into the valley where we stopped for lunch. This was surprisingly green with lush cultivated gardens kept watered by a river that flows all year round and floods during the wet season (starting in November). The circuit walk ended back at Imlil village where we had dropped our bags the previous night. The walk back up to the mountain gite seemed much longer this time around!

After a welcome cup of tea Sally, Ross & I headed back down to the village to browse through a shop where Sally had promised an old man she would return. She ended up bargaining a carpet down from 700MAD to 300MAD (about 30pounds) which was not bad negotiating. I bought a little metal kettle to remind me of all the tea we had bring drinking.

Tags: atlas mountains, berber villages, hiking, imane valley, imlil, mountain biking

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