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One of the more unexpected and enchanting parts of Morocco has to be the mighty Atlas Mountains. This mountain range spans much of the country and was a constant feature of the skyline during my Morocco tour. On the trip we had driven through Middle Atlas Mountains but hadn’t really spent any real time in them. That all changed with the village of Aroumd.
Deep in the High Atlas Mountains south of Marrakesh, Aroumd is just a small Berber village. What makes it special is that sits at the foot of Mt Toubkal, the highest summit in Morocco and all of North Africa. Most visitors to Aroumd pass through it as they hike to Toubkal from the town of Imlil below. We however, would just be doing the short leg up to Aroumd, where we would spend the night.
Hike to Aroumd
Our journey to Aroumd started with the driver dropping us off in Imlil. Here we were met by carts and donkeys, who would kindly be taking our bags up for us. Soon we had begun on the trail heading up the valley into a light forest. As it was October, the weather was quite cool and we were all wearing a lot warmer gear than one normally associates with Morocco. Yes, when you pack for Morocco, you may actually need to bring cold weather gear!
The path slowly zigzagged as the autumn leaves strongly contrasted with the dark grey stones about. It wasn’t long before we were seeing views up the stark valley, although Toubkal was obscured by the valley’s contours. Thankfully, the weather had held up until this point and we would able to reach Aroumd without too much hassle. The village of Aroumd itself was quite humble, many of the homes incredibly basic in design and quality.
Night in the Atlas Mountains
By the time we had arrived at our guesthouse, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. It would proceed to rain the rest of the day, making for an indoor afternoon. The guesthouse was quite modest and homely, except for a really welcoming common area.
As the guesthouse and village were dry and without Wi-Fi, our main source of entertainment that evening was an ever-increasingly competitive game of cards. Eventually we all went to bed, rugging up as the rooms surprisingly dropped in temperature. The next morning the rain continued. As it eased, we scrambled to the roof and were able to spy the peak of Toubkal through the clouds.
The Walk Back to Imlil
Breakfast would have to wait, as we began our hike back down to Imlil. Clouds had descended, at times totally obscuring any kind of view. However, whenever there was a break, it totally made up for it with sweeping views enhanced by the dramatic blanket of clouds. At these times, it was easy to understand how the area had been used to portray Tibet in the movie 7 Years in Tibet.
This time we crossed to the far side of the small river that ran along the valley. From there it was back into the forest as we slowly descended down the valley. When we reached Imlil, we weren’t tired or hungry, but excited having walked through such a naturally beautiful place.
Despite the rain and low cloud limiting our view at times, it certainly lent the walk a mystical ambiance. I think this is why the hike still lingers in my memory to this day. Having seen the region, hiking to the peak of Toubkal is firmly on my list for next time I visit Morocco.
Have you visited the Atlas Mountains in Morocco? Would you be keen to visit Aroumd or hike Mount Toubkal? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.