Group Trek

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When to trek?
October through April

October still has rather warm day-time temperatures, very pleasant evenings. Night-time lows of around freezing in December / January. But winter light conditions are beautiful, due to the low winter sun. Possibility of a light rain shower in March. The desert is in bloom and camel calves are grazing. Early April sees the arrival of higher temperatures.

Who is it suitable for?
Anyone wishing to get well off the beaten path and to experience the raw beauty of the Sahara.

The Iriqui National Park is home to an array of flora & fauna and the scenery unparalleled. Be prepared to walk on average 5-6 hrs per day. Option to trek by camel. Simply bring a sense of adventure.

Basic Darija (Moroccan dialect)

Salam alaikum – formal greeting, peace be upon you
Wa alaikum salam – the response to the above
Aalan – hello (less formal)
Bislama – goodbye
Le bes alik? – how are you? (respond with le bes)
Shukran (bzef) – (many) thanks
Marhaba – welcome
Afak – please
Safi – that’s enough, that’s it
Eeyeh – yes (but in response to being called, answer ‘nam’)
La – no
Mzyen – great
Atay – tea
Qawa – coffee
Hleeb – milk
Sidi Ali / Ain Saiss – mineral water brands (Oulmes for sparkling water)

THE EXPERIENCE

We offer the desert trekking itinerary 4 Days Remote Dunes on a group departure basis.

The package includes accommodation in Marrakech on the day of your flight arrival, collection from your Marrakech hotel and return transport to/from the trek start point (M’hamid El Ghezlane), guesthouse accommodation for two nights at M’hamid El Ghezlane, three nights wild camping equipment, desert guide and cook, camel caravan, meals + drinking water on trek, and accommodation in Marrakech at the end of the trip. Further details below.

The minimum group size is 4 and the maximum group size is 12. If the minimum group number is not reached we can still run the trip, and we will offer the trip at a different rate, notified to those interested.

Package dates 2015/2016:

  • 24 – 31 October 2015
  • 31 October – 7 November 2015
  • 21 – 28 November 2015
  • 5 – 12 December 2015
  • 16 – 23 January 2016
  • 23 – 30 January 2016
  • 6 – 13 February 2016
  • 5 – 12 March 2016
  • 12 – 19 March 2016

The 7 night package price includes:

  • return vehicle transport from/to Marrakech to trek start/finish point (M’hamid El Ghezlane);
  • 2 nights riad/hotel accommodation in Marrakech (breakfast only);
  • 2 nights guest-house accommodation at M’hamid El Ghezlane (with breakfast and evening meal);
  • 3 nights camping equipment for wild camps (based on twin-share of tents);
  • all meals on trek, drinking water and hot drinks;
  • desert guide and cook;
  • camel caravan to transport equipment, food, water, luggage, with option to ride by camel (please specify this in advance);
  • desert turban for each group member.

Click on the images to enlarge / © Images courtesy of R. Fiserova, M. Dady, M. Charytonowicz & Wild Morocco

THE GROUP TREK EXAMPLE ITINERARY

Day 1 / Marrakech to M’hamid

Early morning pick-up at riad / hotel in Marrakech and transfer to the desert frontier village of M’hamid El Ghezlane, at the end of the tarmac road, on the Draa Valley. Today’s journey is wonderful – traverse the High Atlas mountains via the highest main road pass in Morocco (the Tichka Pass at 2260m), pass typical Berber villages and lush valleys by the road-side, beyond Ouarzazate cross the Anti-Atlas mountain range before meeting the course of the Draa River valley (the longest river in Morocco and flanked by glorious date palm oases & crumbling kasbahs) and driving via Agdz and Zagora. Overnight just outside M’hamid El Ghezlane in the palm grove of Bounou, staying at one of the best guest-houses in the region. Overnight on half-board basis.

Day 2 / Draa River & marabout of Sidi Naji

After breakfast, your vehicle will drive you the short distance to M’hamid from your guest-house. There, meet your desert guides & camel caravan where the camels are loaded with your luggage/equipment. Your guides will also help you to wrap your turban, ideal protection in the desert. The morning’s trek follows the southern banks of the Draa River, through the vast palm groves and original settlement of M’hamid (purported to be approx. 300 yrs old); take time to visit some of the ancient pise-mud buildings, now abandoned, and enjoy the partial shade offered by the trees. Once at the end of the palm grove, take lunch at a point known as Ras Nkhal. Here, the palm trees open out and give way to desert scrub and stone (hamada), earth banks & tamarisk trees for the rest of the day’s trek. After lunch, continue on a south-westerly course for approx. 2.5hrs towards the marabout (the shrine of a holy man) of Sidi Naji, close to where overnight camp will be established, in the seclusion of small dunes. Today’s trek time: 5-6 hours, depending on the pace of the group.

Day 3 / Region of Zahar

After breakfast, camp is struck, and the day’s goal, the large, remote sand dune region, of Zahar (right), will be reached before lunch. Today’s trekking terrain is largely flat, plateau-like earth (a dried lake) which gradually transforms into rolling sand dunes, with far less vegetation visible today. Camp is established at the foot of the tall dunes, between smaller dunes, and lunch is served. This is a little-visited dune region and your afternoon is given to exploring Zahar, reaching the highest point to enjoy the wide-reaching views across the ‘erg’ (sand sea) and then the sunset. Zahar is also known as the ‘screaming dunes’, for a legend that tells of a village buried beneath the sands there. Today’s trek time: 4 hours, depending on the pace of the group.

Day 4 / Erg Smar

After breakfast, camp is struck. This morning, for the first time since leaving M’hamid, you will cross the bed of the Draa River, to its northern banks, to start the return trek in the direction of your starting point. The size of the river bed is astonishing, given it now runs dry, but once flowed in abundance through the desert (so much so, that up to 35 families lived on its banks, at the settlement of Erg Smar, further west from your route). Water does still run deep underground here and today’s trek will see more vegetation, some lining the course of former river tributaries. Lunch is taken under the shade of the tamarisk trees. After lunch, trek across flat land which was once fertile (when water was present) and you will come across remnants of agricultural land which is now used as pasture for grazing camels. Overnight camp will be established, in the seclusion of small sand dunes. Today’s trek time: 5-6 hours, depending on the pace of the group.

Day 5 / Return to M'hamid

After breakfast, camp is struck. Today’s goal is the village of M’hamid, to complete your four day circuit. The terrain once more becomes marked by desert scrub and earth banks, and palm groves become more apparent the closer you reach M’hamid. You will break for lunch, in shade, before reaching the village. Your vehicle will be waiting to transfer you back to your overnight guest-house, at the palm grove of Bounou. Today’s trek time: 4 hours, depending on the pace of the group.

Day 6 / Return to Marrakech

Early morning departure from your guest-house, to re-trace the journey north to Marrakech. Expect to arrive to your riad / hotel in Marrakech late afternoon.

THE ROUTE