Hiking in the High Atlas,

as long as it could be combined with staying in some very nice hotels, had been a dream of ours for some time. We didn't feel up to managing the trip on our own, but none of the trips offered by the travel companies seemed to combine all the right elements. At last we contacted Mountain Travel+Sobek about a trip they used to offer, and they put us in touch with their local provider, Kristy Larson

In May 2002, armed with (between us) a good knowledge of French, a strong interest in Arabic, and our REI credit card, we flew to London and thence to Marrakesh. We spent our first night there, and then hustled off the next morning to Essaouira, a picturesque town on the Atlantic coast, where we got our first introduction to Moroccan life.

After a couple of relaxing days of strolling around and mostly eating, it was back to Marrakesh for three sumptuous nights at the Hotel La Mamounia ( here's a link to their website) , and a look at the local markets and some museums.

Then it was off to the ski resort of Oukaimeden, in the region of Jebel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa, for a hike that took us across one pass to our camp near the village of Tachedirt, then across another pass into the valley of Ait Mizane and by car back to Marrakesh for another brief glimpse of hotel life before heading deeper into the hills.

The centerpiece of our trip was a six-day journey by foot starting north of El Kelaa M'Gouna, along the M'Goun River, up and over Tizi n'Ait Imi to Ait Bougoumez. The river itself provides a highway for much of this distance (with no "shoulders" for part of the way), and, in keeping with Alex's superb weather luck, there were no problems with high water, or excessive heat or cold for that matter.

After a night at a wonderful lodge at Ait Bougoumez, we packed away our hiking gear and headed back to civilization: a night at Afourer, a night and parts of two days in Fez, a drive to Casablanca for a very short night at the Hyatt Regency (we never even got so far as looking at the swimming pool), and then it was up early for a pre-dawn cab ride to the airport for a flight to Amsterdam and then home to Seattle.

We brought back about 150 pictures, many of which are available on this site, either within a narrative or from a vaguely chronological list.

Hope you enjoy the pictures or the story, but at any rate drop us a note to let us know that you stopped by!

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