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Sahara Desert Trek and Atlas
11 days
Morocco - Trip code MDT

Sahara Desert Trek and Atlas

Join us on this trekking trip from the Atlas Mountains to the mighty Sahara Desert. Hike through canyons, kasbahs and gorges in the highest mountains of North Africa. Experience the local Berber hospitality when you spend the night in a traditional village house, and enjoy the silence and peace of the immense desert while sleeping under the stars in a nomad tent. From fertile oasis, rock formations and majestic sand dunes, the Sahara desert offers a captivating, ever-changing landscape.

Trip highlights

  • Sahara Desert Trek - Walk through kasbahs, oasis and gorges
  • Atlas Mountains - The highest and most scenic mountain range in North Africa
  • Berbers - Meet the friendly local people and learn about their life in remote villages
  • Marrakech - The vibrant 'Red City'
Accommodation grade:
Simple
These are often small, family run establishments or campsites which provide a no-frills experience with adequate amenities and service standards. Sleeping arrangements are simple, sometimes with en suite facilities.
Walking grade:
Moderate
For those who are fit and active, these moderate walks are normally on good paths and tracks at low altitude. Days may include some fairly demanding ascents and descents, so previous experience is preferable but not essential.
Group Size:
10 - 16
Maximum group size ranges from between 6 to 20 people, depending on the type of trip, the transport and accommodation used and activities included. We rarely have groups that are smaller than five or six people and the average is 12 people plus an Explore leader.

Itinerary

Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Join tour Marrakech

Our journey begins in Morocco's famous 'Red City'. Blessed with some of the most stunning architecture in the country, Marrakech is the spiritual heart of the country, a cultural melting pot of the mountain Berbers and the desert peoples of the south.

Accommodation: Moroccan House(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 2 - Drive to Bou Tharar via the Dades Valley

Leaving Marrakech behind this morning we drive towards the mountain pass of Tizi n'Tichka (2,260m), the gateway between the great Marrakech Plains and the desert landscapes of the Sahara. Crossing the High Atlas, we then descend to the old desert outpost of Ouarzazate and into the Dades Valley, the 'Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs'. The Dades Valley can boast some of the most authentic Berber settlements anywhere, with each of the oasis towns offering up its own distinctive charm and character. Many of the original kasbahs lie in ruins now, but enough remain to provide a real flavour of Morocco's ancient heritage. Our journey today also takes us via the town of El Kelaa Mgouna and the famous Valley of the Roses, before finally arriving at the Berber village of Bou Tharar, located at the entrance to the wonderfully scenic Mgoun Gorge.

Accommodation: Hotel Awayou(or similar)

Standard Auberge
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast & Dinner
Day 3 - Hike through the Ait Ahmed Valley to Alemdoun

After breakfast this morning we'll depart Bou Tharar and begin hiking along the Valley of the Roses, an area renowned for its glowing red cliffs and fields of abundant roses. The scented blooms that blanket this landscape in the spring are harvested each year during the famous Festival of the Roses. Around 700 tonnes of petals are picked and then processed into rosewater to be sold throughout the Islamic world. Heading into the Ait Ahmned Valley we begin passing through a timeless rural landscape of Berber villages and cultivated fields as we make our way towards the village of Alemdoun and our overnight stop. We'll be walking a total of around five hours today, with our luggage being transported by mules.

Accommodation: Village House - Alemdoun(or similar)

Simple Gite
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 4 - Hike up to the village of Aguerzga

Another five hours of walking today sees us negotiating a gradually ascending trail that leads us up to a small mountain pass at around 1,950 metres. Our destination is the village of Aguerzga, situated close to the border of the Mgoun River and we will be spending this evening in a rustic gite in the heart of this dramatic landscape.

Accommodation: Village House - Aguerzeka(or similar)

Simple Gite
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 5 - Hike the Mgoun Gorge to Tamgalouna

Today provides us with a wonderfully scenic hike, as we follow the meandering trails that traverse the Mgoun Gorge. The Mgoun (4,071m) is one the great towering peaks of the Central High Atlas, encompassing a relatively untouched region of the country, where traditional Berber villages lie scattered across the landscapes much as they have for countless generations. Part of our trek today takes us through the narrow canyon and by mid afternoon we'll find ourselves close to the village of Tamgalouna. Today's walk will take us around six hours and will require some wet traverses in parts.

Accommodation: Village House - Tamgalouna(or similar)

Simple Gite
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 6 - Trek to Tamalout, then drive to Merzouga. Walk to the Erg Chebbi desert camp

A short hike this morning brings us to the end of our trek around Tamalout/Bou Trarar. From here we continue on to Merzouga by road, passing through the town of Tinerhir en route. Merzouga provides us with the starting point of our camel trek, as we meet up with our camels and our camel handlers for the short walk into the Erg Chebbi towards our overnight camp amongst the wind-blown dunes of the Sahara. Over the next three days we'll each have our own camels for the desert trek, with each of us free to decide how much riding and how much walking we do each day.

Accommodation: Chebbi Dunes Camp(or similar)

Simple Camping
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 7 - Scenic hike in the Erg Chebbi dunes

A six hour trek today takes us deep into the dunes of the Erg Chebbi. One of Morocco's two Saharan ergs, this vast expanse of sand covers some 22 kilometres from north to south and expands between 5-10 kilometres from east to west. Some of these dunes reach upwards of 50 metres in height, providing us with a stunning backdrop as we make our way across the massif towards our second night's camp, located near an oued (gully) at the foot of the dunes.

Accommodation: Tamerdanite Camp(or similar)

Simple Camping
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 8 - Walk to the dunes of Erg Znagui

Much of today's five hour trek takes us across flat, stoney desert, as we head into a small valley that leads on to the beautiful dunes of Erg Znagui.

Accommodation: Znagui Camp(or similar)

Simple Camping
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 9 - Drive to Skoura via Merzouga and the Dades Valley

A short hike this morning brings us back to the road, where our camel trek ends and our drive to Skoura begins. The drive will take us around six and a half hours, taking us back through Merzouga and the Dades Valley. The oasis of Skoura lies just to the south of the High Atlas Mountains, close to the ruins of the magnificent Kasbah Amerhidil. On arrival we will take a hike through the surrounding palm groves, enjoying the magical atmosphere of its faded kasbahs and crumbling pisé walls.

Accommodation: Ait Ben Hada(or similar)

Simple Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast & Dinner
Day 10 - Drive to Marrakech, free afternoon

Driving back to Marrakech today we will have a free afternoon to enjoy the delights of one of Morocco's most fascinating cities. Like many North African towns, Marrakech is divided into two distinct parts, the Gueliz (the modern French-built city) and the Medina (the Old City). Any tour of the old city should include the spectacular Djemma-el-Fna Square, the city's beating heart, where you will find the streets and alleys alive with storytellers, acrobats, snake charmers and street vendors. Marrakech can also boast a staggering array of spectacular architecture and wonderful facades and a walk through its bustling streets cannot fail to fill the senses and fire the imagination.

Accommodation: Moroccan House(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 11 - Tour ends Marrakech

Our tour ends in Marrakech after breakfast. Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may wish to spend some more time wandering through the souks of Marrakech or buying the last souvenirs.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Walking and Trekking information

Walking grade
Moderate
Trek details
This is a 6-day trek with an average of 4 to 7 hours walking each day, plus 2 days with short walks. We hike through varied desert landscape, rocky paths and mountain trails, reaching altitudes of around 2000m. We have graded this tour as moderate.

What's included?

Included meals
  • Breakfast: 10
  • Lunch: 6
  • Dinner: 8
Transport
  • 4WD
  • Minibus
Trip staff
  • Explore Tour Leader
  • Cook
  • Driver(s)
  • Muleteer(s)
Accommodation
  • 1 nights standard auberge
  • 3 nights simple camping
  • 3 nights simple gite
  • 2 nights standard hotel
  • 1 nights simple hotel
Award Winning Explore Leaders
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Price Guarantee Promise
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Airport Transfers
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FairFX currency card
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Trip information

Country information

Morocco Holidays & Tours

Climate

The climate is both Mediterranean and Atlantic. The dry, hot season is from May to October when summer temperatures can reach 38°C and above (if sight seeing is included we will do our best to avoid the heat of the day during this period). Temperatures may drop significantly at times during the night as the day's heat rapidly diminishes. From December to January snow can be expected on mountain passes and it can be wet. In winter, day temperatures will probably be around 18-25°C, dropping to perhaps 0-5°C.

Time difference to GMT

0

Plugs

2 Pin Round

Religion

Islam

Language

Arabic, Berber, French.

Budgeting and packing

Clothing

Summer (Apr-Oct): Clothing should be lightweight. However, a warm sweater is also advisable, as the desert can sometimes be cold at night, even in the summer. Winter (Nov-Mar): Mostly warm days but much thicker clothing is essential. It is advisable to take warm clothing (e.g. track suit) to sleep in, as the quality of heating in Moroccan hotel rooms can be variable. Desert nights can be particularly cold with ground frosts in winter. A windproof jacket, trousers and fleece are thus recommended between December and January. Morocco is a Muslim country and it is important to dress with respect for local customs. People may be offended by shorts or revealing dresses, which can attract unwelcome attention. We advise that in general both men and women should cover shoulders, upper arms and knees. Transparent, 'plunging' necklines and tightfitting clothes should be avoided. Women should also cover their heads when entering a sanctuary, though in general, mosques are forbidden to non-Muslims.

Footwear

Lightweight walking or desert bootshoes for general travel and sandals/trainers for relaxing. Also some shoes suitable for walking in water.

Luggage

12Kg

Luggage: On tour

One piece of baggage (suitcases not suitable as luggage is stored on the roof-racks of our 4WD vehicles and mules) and a daysack for the walks. Total allowance: 26lb/12kg plus daysack (due to weight restrictions on our vehicles and mules). It will be possible to store unrequired and additional luggage at the hotel or with our agent in Marrakech during the trek.

Equipment

Bring a 3-season sleeping bag plus water bottle. A small torch and earplugs are highly recommended.You may also consider bringing some wet wipes for washing in the desert as washing facilities are very limited.

Tipping

Explore leader
At your discretion you might also consider tipping your Tour Leader in appreciation of the efficiency and service you receive.
Local crew
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognized part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. In order to make things easier for you, the Tour Leaders may organise a group's tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour. Accordingly, you should allow approx. £15 for tipping of crew and local guides used.
Country Information

Morocco Holidays & Tours

Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.


Dinner price
£5.00 - 8.00
Beer price
£2.5
Water price
£0.6
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Moroccan Dirham (MAD).
Recommended Currency For Exchange
US Dollars, Sterling and Euros are readily exchangeable. We recommend you take a mixture of cash and credit cards. Scottish bank notes and Australian dollar travellers cheques and cash are NOT normally accepted in Morocco.
Where To Exchange
Most major towns - your Tour Leader will advise you.
ATM Availability
ATMs are available in main towns/cities, though can be unreliable.
Credit Card Acceptance
Not all places.
Travellers Cheques
Travellers cheques are difficult to exchange and are not recommended.

Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

4WD, Minibus

Essential information

FCO Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice click here.

For more information from Explore about travel advice, click here
 

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Essential Information

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa Information

Morocco: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.


If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may consider applying through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Transfers

Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.


Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will now receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The transfers will be from the Explore designated airport or train station to the joining point of your tour, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  


For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here

Insurance

It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.


Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.

  

Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

Morocco Holidays & Tours

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against tetanus, typhoid, infectious hepatitis and polio. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria.

Dates, prices and booking

Date
Price from
Single room option

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