British couple ascend Mount Toubkal in aid of local charity

Pete and Karen take a break from their trek.
Pete and Karen take a break from their trek. / SUR
  • Charity walker, Karen Hawkins, fell ill on the second day of her fundraising trek through the remote landscape surrounding North Africa's highest mountain

A six-day charity trek through Morocco proved to be financially beneficial for one local animal refuge, even though the venture was almost abandoned on the second day.

As reported by SUR in English in June, Pete and Karen Hawkins spent months training in preparation for the fundraising trek up Mount Toubkal, one of North Africa’s highest mountains.

They embarked on their six-day trek in August, crossing the remote, desolate landscape surrounding Mount Toubkal, passing through Berber towns and villages, culminating in an ascent to reach the highest point of the mountain at more than 4,000 metres.

They undertook the gruelling task to raise money for Animals in Distress (AID), the Coín-based dog rescue home.

Everything started as planned. Pete and Karen were collected from their accommodation on the first day and taken to the trek start point, which was “a manky hut in the middle of nowhere” with the most basic toilet facilities that Karen had ever seen. On the first day, the couple walked for about six hours uphill until they reached the Berber village where they would spend the first night.

“Berber villages are very basic. The locals were ultra-friendly, but accommodation takes some getting used to. The mattress on the floor, pillow about as comfortable as laying your head on a solid rock, not luxury by any stretch,” Karen told SUR in English.

The first day passed without incident, but the following morning, Karen awoke with a thumping headache, nausea and an upset stomach. However, determined to continue, the couple and their guide set off on their journey, only to be forced to abandon their plans due to Karen’s ill-health. The couple booked into a hostel set high in the mountains and here they stayed for 36 hours, until Karen was able to continue with the trek.

The trek carried on to plan after this - although Karen was on a diet of rice - and the couple enjoyed stunning scenery, panoramic views and traditional Berber villages.

The couple raised almost 800 euros for the charity, although Karen is uncertain if she would attempt the same trek again.

“It was amazing, incredible, scary, and immensely difficult, but a great experience. I don’t think I could do that again, but we are planning our adventure for next year, potentially again to raise funds for Animals in Distress,” she explained.