RIGHT OFF THE BEATEN TRACK IN MOROCCO

September 9th, 2014 | by Ashyln Molly

So I had already discovered the stunning Atlas Mountains, and there is just something about the way of life in Morocco which made me gravitate back there again last December. This time I was in search of a Moroccan holiday with a sense of adventure and I wanted to find an area with a climate which lends itself to winter trekking; the lesser known Jebel Sahro Mountains seemed to come up trumps with excellent clear skies and warm days during the colder months. This remote and rocky Jebel Sahro Sahara Desert range lies south of the Atlas range but are very obviously a part of the Sahara Desert.

I wanted to have an activity holiday again and take some moderate exercise, so mountain walking is ideal; you get fresh mountain air and experience a unique way of life. The Jebel Sahro Mountain range is a totally different world; it is wild and rugged and a visually stunning treat for hikers. Going solo on an adventure holiday is right up my street, you get to meet like minded people and also experience a world with something quite special, a far cry from everyday life in London.

The 12 day trek I booked myself on was well organised with an excellent Berber guide, Mustapha, and his team of six young muleteers who helped us with the heavier baggage and had lots of experience running Morocco tours. I met up with the other 15 hikers in Marrakech and spent a day enjoying the bazaars and sights. The next day we drove across the Atlas range and then down into the Draa Valley to the starting point of the trek.

Our trek took us from the fertile Draa Valley, passing by the odd small village of red mud houses, irrigated fields, and date palms. We wound our way down dried up riverbeds and I was impressed by the Majestic towering pinnacles, and the Ridge of Fingers, an outcrop which looks like fingers with your hand pointing up.

There were many highlights; one that stands out had to be when we did the first of our “Grade C” mountain climbs. The climb and descent took just over nine hours and was well worth it. We were told that this would be more demanding than the rest of this moderate “Grade B” trek and when we reached the top of the Jebel Amlal (2447m) for a picnic lunch, the clouds cleared and we could see across to the snow covered peaks of the Atlas Mountains. The views were spectacular. We also climbed the Amalou n’Mansour, the highest mountain in the Jebel Sahro (2712 m), this was amazing.

We changed camping spots every day apart from in one valley where we spent two nights. The muleteers had the camp set up and had lovely meals waiting for us by the time we’d completed our daily walks. The food was good, especially the breakfast with steaming hot porridge, fresh breads served with cream cheese and fig jams. We ate our breakfasts and dinners in the “mess tent”, a small marquee with a plastic tablecloth in the middle, surrounded by cushions.

A useful tip to make the trek more comfortable is to buy a “Thermarest” chair; these are lightweight frames which fit around a folded sleeping mat to give back support, useful when you are sat cross legged for every meal! Another tip is to bring layers of clothing, a four seasons sleeping bag and insulated mat, as the nighttime temperatures quite often fell below zero. During the day just a T shirt was enough, the clear blue, sunny skies were perfect for trekking and the ideal backdrop for photographs. This was a trip that took us off the beaten track and revived us, leaving us all ready to face a new year.

The Adventure Company are adventure travel specialists that provide adventure holidays throughout the world including Morocco.

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