Morocco, Land of Football


06 February 2015


I’d had my eye on the Toubkal National Park ever since I landed in Marrakech six months ago, and as it was a glorious spring day and I had the weekend off so I grabbed my backpack and took a petit taxi to Asni.

The sun shone brightly as I began my Toubkal trek along a dusty path between two rows of blossoming trees. I was mostly alone as I walked, though occasionally I came across another walker making their way up the mountains. I was aiming to make Imlil by evening, so I took my time, enjoying the simple freedom of walking with no pressures.

As the day wore on the sun got warmer and I was drinking water regularly as I climbed. Already there was some amazing scenery to be enjoyed, out over the valley and the river. I caught myself slowing several times to enjoy the sight and eventually, at a point that had an absolutely stunning view over the river and two small villages, I stopped and had my lunch sitting in the shade of a great cedar tree.

After this scenic lunch, the walk was still uphill, and I was grateful for the tall pines and oaks of Toubkal that cast their shadows over the path, giving me protection from the hot spring sunshine. I was already 1,700 metres above sea level and, despite being an experienced hiker, I found that the altitude made the going tougher than I’m used to. It was late afternoon when I rounded a corner and the village of Imlil came into view.

I gratefully shrugged off my pack at a hotel, ordered some fruit juice and a hot meal, before sitting at a table outside and easing my boots off. During my walk I’d tried to avoid looking up ahead of me, but there are some things that can’t be ignored, and that most definitely includes snow-capped mountains that reach over 4,000 metres into the sky. As I sat there the majestic peaks looked down on me – a tempting climb. But for now I was happy to sit here and watch as the setting sun turned the range from ice-blue to flaming orange.