As another Peak Mountaineering autumn trip draws to a happy conclusion, I asked the team to come up with a few Jebel Toubkal top tips for future Morocco expeditioners. Some are specific to trekking and ascending Jebel Toubkal, but many are handy tips for any visitor.
Just for information these tips came from one of our Autumn itinerary teams where the team spend most nights camping. They do enjoy a first night in a lovely riad (small hotel) in Imlil and a final night of luxury in a Marrakech riad. Also, mid way through the trek the team stay in a small village gite which allows access to showers and electricity. This is different to our winter itinerary where, although we still have the riad at the beginning and end, we use a mountain refuge in between.
They came up with a lot (!) but, in the interests of manageability, here are their top twenty. I hope you find them useful and many thanks to the team for sharing their new found Morocco knowledge…..
1. When you change money try and get plenty of lower value notes. Paying for a 10 dirham coke with a 200 note never works too well!
2. Once in camp you will take your shoes off and on a lot (in and out if your sleeping tent and the dining tent). The team’s advice is take some easy on/off footwear (Crocs were popular this year).
3. The team felt that walking poles should be upgraded from optional to essential on our kit list. There is a strong argument for it but we will actually always leave that one to personal preference. There are a lot of steep ascents and loose descents to tackle and they felt poles really help.
4. Try and do some research before you come. A brilliant resource was considered to be the Cicerone Atlas Mountains Trekking guide.
5. You will be very well fed but some days require a long time between breakfast and a later lunch. Having a little stash of your favourite energy snacks tucked away can be very welcome to fill any gaps.
6. The sleeping mats provided are plenty comfortable enough and you won’t need to bring another.
7. Do as much pre departure physical prep as possible. Trekking for several days in a row takes its toll if you aren’t prepared for it and, on the flip side, if you are well prepared you’ll enjoy the experience more.
8. There is plenty of wildlife to see and some of the team wished they had brought binoculars.
9. Find a way to ensure your camera can be easily accessed at all times as you are then much more likely to use it. A small pouch on rucksack shoulder straps was popular this year.
10. Plan some stuff to do in Marrakech. Some people were happy soaking up the ambience and others explored the souks – but some wished they had found time to visit the museum or gardens.
11. Learn a few words or greetings in Berber – this will always guarantee a smile and warm welcome. It is also worth noting that French is spoken widely too so brush up on your Bonjours and Au Revoirs.
12. A 35 litre rucksack is plenty big enough but make sure it is comfy to carry for long periods.
13. Drinking bladders were very popular with this team. We discussed the pros and cons of different brands and the Osprey Hydraulics reviewed here was highly recommended.
15. Bring a swimming costume for lac d’Ifni and a hamman (traditional bath house) if you fancy some water action.
16. A portable battery pack was considered useful if you carry lots of gadgets. On our normal Peak Mountaineering itinerary we have the chance to charge things at the Berber Gite we stay in on night 3, but some team members still found a battery useful in between.
17. Don’t forget to bring toilet paper as there won’t be any in most of the wilderness toilets you visit. There will certainly be toilet paper in the riads.
18. On most trekking days we leave early and arrive in camp by early afternoon. This leaves plenty of down time so come prepared! Is it time to write your memoirs or paint a picture? Some team members listen to music or play games (cards and Uno are always popular). Others read or bring an iPad with a few downloaded films. There will be plenty of time to chat too!
19. Chat to the locals and the cook team and guides as much as possible. It is a privilege of travelling to such wonderful places that we can learn about the country, its culture and people.
20. Be organised. Having some stuff sacks to store essentials in your main duffle bag makes life in your tent so much easier. The same goes for organising your day to day requirements. Finding simple systems can make your life so much easier and save lots of time.
Of course, if you want to put some of our Jebel Toubkal Top Tips into practice on a Peak Mountaineering Jebel Toubkal autumn expedition or our winter Jebel Toubkal Quick Hit trips. Both itineraries leave every year.