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These notes are to assist you in your preparation for your trek in the Sahara Desert.
The Sahara is the largest desert in the world. Your drive south from
good enough. Comfort is your primary concern. Whilst boots are
Marrakech will take you over the High Atlas mountains and several
our recommendation, some people do walk in sandles; the sand
additional minor ranges; the scenery is stunning. The Sahara begins
just washes over your feet. Our advice is to take a secondary set of
just a few miles from the village of M’Hamid; your entry and exit point
footwear in case of problem; it then allows you to switch.
and where the hard surfaced road stops and the sand begins. Here you will meet up with your support team and their camels.
Luggage You will need a daysack and something to get your kit to Morocco in
You will trek across the Sahara towards Algeria, which is bordered
by a high range of hills. At times, you will see nothing but sand, sand and even more sand. That said, do not expect it to be the soft sandy
beach stuff all of the time; some is quite solid, especially near the river beds and you will also encounter some stone and a surprising amount
Daysack. For everyday use and hand luggage. A good daysack will
of foliage. Watch for signs of life in the sand, there is perhaps more
be worth its weight in gold. Remember that it will be on your back
than you imagine but it is unlikely that you will encounter snakes or
for between 5 and 6 hrs a day. It should be comfortable and big
enough for your daily needs. Experience has shown that a 30 – 35l sack is about right. Most modern daysacks are also fitted with internal
At night, the stars are mesmerising and the sky incredible. The fast
pouches to carry hydration systems such as the Camelbac.
moving satellites are easy to spot if you look for just a few minutes.
Main luggage. Use any type of luggage you wish to get your kit to
Morocco (ie hard backed suitbcase, holdall, etc.) but you will need a
The weather is likely to get up to around 30 Deg C during the day,
soft skinned holdall or kit bag for the trek.
although ground temperatures (sand) have been recorded to 40 Deg C during the trekking season. This area boasts an average of
The holdall will be carried by a camel during the trek and hard backed
300 cloudless days a year! Even though the sun rises at approx 7am,
suitcases are simply not suitable for that!
the air temperature will take its time to rise into the 20’s so do not be surprised if you are walking initially with a light fleece on. Night
During the trek, once you begin the days walk, your holdall will be
temperatures will fall to single figures; a light frost on tents is not
loaded onto a camel and taken to the next nightstop so do not expect
any access to your holdall during that time.
Weight Limits. There is no formal weight limit of your kit on the trek
The clothing and equipment list will be sent to you as a separate
itself. The airline luggage weight restriction is enough to limit the
amount you have with you but as a guide, your main bag on the trek should weigh no more than about 12kg; your daysack will weigh
The list is a guide and should be treated as such. It is clearly influenced about 5 - 6 kg (maybe more in winter).
by the weather conditions that you are likely to encounter. Feel free to adapt it to suit your own needs and previous personal experiences.
FitnessFitness is very subjective. Clearly if you have a high level of fitness you
In general terms, shorts and T-shirts will be the standard style of dress
are likely to find this trek easier to cope with.
on a daily basis with sun hats and maybe more protection from the sun. In the evenings you will require several layers of clothing. A
This trek is not massively physical although the sand can be very soft
T-shirt and fleece will be needed maybe even a duvet jacket, woolly
at times making ascending the dunes a little slower than you might
hat and gloves! It will be the difference in temperature between day
anticipate! The heat will also take its toll over time.
and night rather than the air temperature that will make you feel colder.
There is no substitute for walking in your boots and carrying your rucksack when training for this. You should aim to be as fit and healthy
The following items are considered worth highlighting:
Sleeping Bag. You will need a decent 3 season sleeping bag for your nights in the Desert. Depending on when you are trekking, the outside temperature may drop to freezing overnight; light frost on the tents overnight is common.
Boots or similar footwear. It is essential that you have a well worn in, comfortable pair of boots. Lightweight, soft style boots are
The food on trek is cooked on a daily basis by a skilled Camp Chef.
Any really useful mapping of Morocco is difficult to obtain. The border
The presentation and variety of food is excellent not even considering
between Algeria and Morocco is disputed and therefore the mapping
of this area of the Sahara area is even more difficult to obtain. Stanfords in London is a good source.
Catering for vegetarians is no problem; just let us know.
The restaurants and other food outlets in Marrakech are good; no
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months on the day of
significant difference to any other major city.
UK Nationals do not require a visa to enter Morocco.
All water on trek is provided. It comes in 1.5 liter plastic bottles. The bulk of the water is carried by the camels; you collect your daily
The currency of Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD). You can obtain MAD’s in the UK prior to travel.
You are advised to drink only bottled mineral water in towns and cities. It is widely available and inexpensive.
The cheapest way to change money is to take UK£ cash. The best place to change your money is reported to be the airport; unusual but true.
There are plenty of official money changing kiosks in the streets of
The main languages spoken are Arabic, Berber and French.
Marrakesh and many hotels act as official money changers too. With the amount of money that you are likely to change, the difference in
Be aware that the main two types of people are the Berbers (mountain rates between these places will make little difference.
people) and Arabs (mainly city dwellers). You will be led through the desert by a Berber Guide.
Credit cards are widely accepted and there are plenty of ATM’s.
Approx 99% of Morocco’s inhabitants are Muslim.
Staff TipsThis can be an emotive and tricky subject; here is our advice.
How Far Do We Walk Each Day?In general terms, work on 6 hrs per day and it will be split over two
In Morocco, whilst tipping is expected, it does not form part of their
sessions to avoid the heat of the midday sun.
wages. What you tip is therefore down to the level of service. It is reasonable to work on a baseline of contributing £20 per trekker into
The sunrises and sunsets are superb; get up onto the dunes for the
the pot (converted to MAD). The number of staff will vary but if that
increases so too will the number of trekkers.
The terrain varies from hard baked river bed type surface to very deep
There is clearly a pecking order within the Staff and that runs along
soft sand. Sand will clearly always be evident but camp sites need to
the lines of Guide, Chef and the rest.
The division of money should be proportionate. Don’t forget to leave a
Accommodation, Washing and Toilet Facilities
small sum for the drivers who get you to and from Marrakesh.
Marrakech – 3* local Riad within the Medina. The Riad has its own Hammam and swimming pool.
Presenting the individuals with the tips or placing the money into an envelope and asking the Guide to distribute are both acceptable. Be
Ouarzazate (midway point by road) – twin bedded hotel rooms with a
aware that some of your staff may not come back to Marrakesh with
you so ensure that you are aware of who leaves when.
On trek – 2 man tents, communal facilities.
Some forethought is needed in Marrakesh prior to departing as you will need to ensure that you have enough small notes to meet your
Toilet facilities will be western style in hotels; a hole in the ground on
potential distribution. You can’t change notes in the desert so some
trek (complete with toilet tent!). Take your own loo roll or packets of
Washing/Showers in the Desert. There are no showers on trek. Washing bowls are provided to wash yourselves in. Due to your location, water will be limited in this regard.
Guide BooksThere are several good guidebooks on the market. If you do intend to purchase one, you are advised to purchase it in the UK. It is more likely to be the up to date edition.
bargain hard; the Moroccan Arabs are brilliant at it.
In addition to carrying your documents, (passport and travel
Be very careful with hustlers. They will use every tactic in the book
documents are examples) you are advised to have a back up if
to get you to go to their shops or ‘friend’s’ shops. Many are genuinely
they get lost or are stolen. Our suggestions:
friendly and may be official Guides but the simple advice is to treat them all as hustlers; they will be after your money! The simple rule of
Colour photocopy the documents and ask a colleague to carry
thumb is to know what YOU want to do and not allow any ‘stranger’
the copies. Make sure that they are protected from the elements
to influence you to do what THEY want you to do. By all means be
and general wear. Clear plastic bags or lamination are good
friendly and take advantage of any hospitality but always have one
eye on the end result. Be polite but firm.
Scan the documents into a PC and store them on a specialist website
or a web based e-mail server such as Hotmail or Yahoo.
The main square is usually the initial focus of attention both by day and night. There are numerous cafes and restaurants. Be aware though
that Morocco is a Muslim country and alcohol is not always available.
Morocco has a good network of communications.
See the Arriving in Marrakesh Section in this dossier.
Landline, mobiles and the internet are all available.
Morocco works off a standard 220v, 50Hz power system with a round 2 pin plug socket.
Most standard networks will work in Morocco with strong signals.
Even in the Desert, a signal can be found up high (on dunes). Do not expect 24hr coverage all of the time though and spare a thought for
Your main shopping area is undoubtedly Marrakech’s Medina, the
those that prefer to be ‘mobile free’!
name given to a large covered area occupied by many markets (Souks) in the centre of Marrakech. It is a maze of alleyways and just a few
minutes from your Riad. There are lots of things to tempt you to part with your money; leather goods, wood carvings, rugs and carpets to
Marrakesh has sufficient internet cafes as do many hotels.
name but a few. If you know your prices, you can pick up a bargain but
This section covers some of the many different scenarios that you may
If that isn’t the case, arrangements for your safe extraction to
find yourself in and therefore worth thinking about and preparing
professional medical help will be arranged. That can be either by
for. In finding the right solution for you, common sense must always
If required, your travel insurance company would be contacted to
What happens if I become too ill during the trek and I am unable to
continue?This scenario covers, stomach bugs and other similar ailments that
We would monitor what is happening to you to ensure continuity is
render you unable to trek but does not warrant evacuation from the
What happens if I have a serious accident?
Your Guide’s duty is to the main group whilst ensuring that you are
A serious accident we would define as requiring immediate or timely
professional medical help with potential helicopter evacuation.
Clearly, you won’t be left out in the Desert! You will never be left
Telephone calls would be made in order to arrange professional help.
alone. If the judgement is that your ailment may subside, the Guide, in
The Guides will know how and where to communiate from.
discussion with the group may decide to stay where he is in order for you to get better.
Your travel insurance company would be contacted at the earliest opportunity.
Planning ahead is vital to ensure that you are prepared
If you have any doubts about your teeth, see your dentist well
• You have adequate travel insurance to get you out of a worst
in advance of departure. It may be difficult and expensive to
obtain dental treatment at your destination. Emergency dental
kits are available through high street stores such as Boots (cost approx £10).
Taking Prescribed Medicines out of the UK
This section has been compiled mainly from experience on the ground and partly from researching reliable Government sources and other
If you want or need to take prescribed medicine out of the
similar websites. We are not medical professionals and therefore it is
country, you should contact the appropriate authority in your
provided in good faith and is not an authority.
home country for advice. In the UK, contact the Home Office website http://drugs.homeoffice.gov.uk/drugs-laws/licensing/
You should consult your doctor or medical practice well in
advance (preferably several months) of your departure, for advice and to arrange the appropriate vaccinations. This table shows
Food hygiene standards in third world countries are less than
what most authorities agree on what you should have with other
what you are used to. The change in diet and standard of hygiene
vaccinations possible depending on your circumstances.
is almost certainly going to lead to a change of bowel movement. The question is, to what degree! Travellers’ diarrhoea is very common, especially in hot countries. Be ready for it!
Hep A, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio, Meningitis.
Hep A, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio, Meningitis.
A reminder of some precautions to help you stay healthy:
Hep A, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio, Meningitis.
• Wash your hands after going to the lavatory, before handling
Hep A, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio, Meningitis.
• Use your own safe drinking water for brushing teeth. • Avoid ice unless you are sure it is made from treated and
The following websites have tables so that you can check what is recommended:
• Eat freshly cooked food which is thoroughly cooked and still
piping hot; avoid food which has been kept warm.
• Avoid uncooked food, unless you can peel or shell it yourself.
• Avoid food likely to have been exposed to flies.
• Avoid ice cream from unreliable sources, such as kiosks or
Anti Malarials may be required in some of the countries listed above
depending on exactly where you are going to (don’t forget to factor in any other countries that you may be visiting, even in transit). Once you
• Avoid – or boil – unpasteurised milk.
know that, you should research more and consult your GP/Medical
• Fish and shellfish can be suspect in some countries.
Centre. The Malaria page on the traveldoctor website is very good,
Uncooked shellfish, such as oysters, are a particular hazard.
Despite all of that, it is not uncommon to see colleagues eat all sorts from street corners, curries in dodgy looking restaurants and remained perfectly healthy. It is equally possible to see colleagues take every precaution imaginable and be struck down after 1 meal!
There are two areas that you should consider:
You may wish to include an emergency dental kit.
Personal First Aid kit (daily use if required) and an Emergency
You are advised to keep any medical/dental kits well hidden in your hold luggage when flying (especially on domestic flights).
Personal First Aid KitBelow is a check list of some of what you might want to consider
Experienced officials are aware of the value of such items and
carrying in your personal medical kit. It is not exhaustive and you
inexperienced officials will simply see what is a sharp object.
should adapt your kit to your own needs/wishes. You should
In either case, they could be taken away from you. Remove any
think carefully about any personal ailments you have or have had
(i.e. are you prone to blisters or cold sores?) and build your kit around that.
Snakes and ScorpionsThe winter months in the Desert are considered too cold for snakes
or scorpions so the liklihood of you encountering one is very low.
That said, here are some simple precautions to avoid being bitten by a snake or scorpion.
Avoid the bite in the first place- ie shake out boots, sleeping bags
Dont touch “dead” snakes, they might just be resting
Keep any patient calm and don’t move too much, so as not to
facilitate movement of venomWash and disinfect the area
If possible apply cold water or ice pack at site for similar reasons;
this also helps with the pain of a scorpion bite. Bites rarely have
Apply a compress around the site, but maintain circulation
If possible kill the snake to take to the doctor with patient for
identification, or take picture if there is no further chance of being
Take the patient to hospital in recovery position if needed.
For a sand viper, the complication seems to develop about 10-20 hrs after being bitten, and 3 days before a possible problem with
Also consider how much of it you carry and what type you purchase. For example, the Day and Night Nurse remedies come in both liquid (bottle) and capsule form. Capsules are dry inside and are less likely to break all over the rest of your medical kit unlike the liquid version!
These are sealed, see through, plastic bags containing a variety of sterilised and sealed items of equipment, such as syringes, needles and suture materials. They may be purchased through a pharmacist, private medical centre or from a number of other suppliers. They should normally be handed to a doctor or nurse for use in a medical emergency in a country where sterile items like these may be in question. If you do take one of these, do not carry it in your hand luggage when flying.
Emergency medical travel kits should carry sufficient identification to ensure their acceptance by Customs officials, but the contents should not be opened until needed. It is also unwise to carry loose syringes or needles unless you have a doctor’s letter explaining their purpose – if, for example, you are diabetic.
We want your arrival in Marrakesh to run as smoothly as possible. This
information is aimed at helping that process and provides some back
This in no way suggests that you are going to be stranded at the
up information should you encounter any difficulties.
airport. These back ups are therefore precisely that; you have alternatives to get you to your hotel should you need to do so.
Use this series of measures in the order stated, only moving onto the
You should be given an immigration form for Morocco on the aircraft.
next one if the first one fails to achieve anything:
Once complete, it is all that you need (other than your passport) to enter the country.
Please check all the signs in the concourse, sometimes at peak times there are many people waiting so the signs can be difficult to see. If
Marrakesh’s airport has had a radical overall during the past two years
you still cannot see a sign call one of these mobiles:
00212 (0) 670731715 or 00212 (0) 661428404If that fails and after a reasonable amount of time, go to your Riad:
Once you land, the first hall you come to will be the immigration hall. Join any queue to pass through. Be aware that this can take a while at
Immigration may write a number in your passport that will be required Tel: 00212 5 24 44 38 40 by the Riad so keep it handy.
(It may help to take a note of this for the customs form in Marrakech airport on arrival.)
The baggage reclaim is in a large hall. Free trolleys are available, or you can ask a porter to help for a fee.
You should use a petit taxi for this; bargain hard!
The money changing kiosk gives good rates and you can therefore
Once you reach the Riad, use the hotel to try to reach the above mo-
sensibly use your time there to change £UK to MAD.
bile numbers again. Please note that the taxi cannot get you right to the hotel entrance due to the nature of the Medina.
Once you have your bags and have changed any money (if you decide to do it here), then proceed through customs and into the arrivals hall.
If you feel the world is collapsing around you(!), call Travel and Trek:
You will see the usual gathering of people holding up name signs/boards. Your guide will be there and will take you to the transport to
Casthorpe Lodge Cottage, Casthorpe, Grantham, NG32 1DRenquiry@travelandtrek.com T: 01476 562763/574497, M: 07725 943108Travel and Trek Limited Registered office: 1st Floor, 28 Market Place, Grantham NG31 6LR Register
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