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Image by trip leader Gwyneth Talley

Hiking in the Atlas Mountains

Nat Geo student travelers in Morocco write about their overnight trek in the Atlas Mountains, enjoying scenic views and scrumptious meals in the great outdoors.

We started the day early, having breakfast at 6:30 AM. Then our group, accompanied by a pack of mules, set off on a nine-mile hike through the Atlas Mountains. The views were beautiful, and we even saw the mountain that Alex Honnold—star of the National Geographic documentary Free Solo—practiced on for his ascent of El Capitan. Gorgeous shades of red and orange blanketed the peaks, contrasting with vivid patches of green pine trees. A refreshing breeze blew now and then to cool us down and provide some relief from the humid air and unrelenting sun.

We arrived at our camp at around 2:00 PM, and dug into a delicious lunch of fruit salad, fish, meatballs, cheese, and pasta, with watermelon for dessert. After spending the afternoon relaxing and playing games in the mealtime tent, we were hit with a torrential downpour and a heavy onset of hail. Rather than fret and panic, we had a blast running about trying to keep ourselves dry!

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Image by trip leader Sarah Eissler

The next morning, we ate breakfast overlooking the vast landscape we had hiked through the day before, wolfing down eggs from the local village, bread, and a slew of jams and spreads. Hiking back alongside the mules that carried our food, water, and supplies, we stopped for lunch at a beautiful spot by the river. Here, some of the students in the group played with the mules or cooled down in the water, while others tried their hand at skipping stones. Lunch comprised of salad, sardines, lentils, and melon. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to round off the meal with tea, as rainclouds were fast approaching our way; after rushing to gather our things, we began the second half of the trek back to our guesthouse.

We reached the guesthouse at around 3:00 PM, and took the afternoon off to relax, unpack, shower, and hang out. We enjoyed a hearty dinner of soup, tagine, and chocolate cake that night. Later, we were rewarded by the sight of flashes of lightning in the distant mountains—a truly spectacular show!