Days on Trails

Desert trek in Moroccan Sahara

Guided desert trek in southern Morocco. Roam the Sahara with dromedaries as luggage transport and sleep in Berber camps between sand dunes. A perfect escape from the darkest winter months. Exhilarating contrast between the peacefulness of the desert and the humdrum of Marrakesch.

Quick overview

What?
  • Escape the darkest winter months with sunny days and mild temperatures in the Sahara.
  • Completely otherworldy experience in varied desert landscapes.
  • Experience life as a desert Nomad for a week. Do I hear the Lawrence of Arabia soundtrack playing?
  • Get a glimpse of Marrakesch and tiny desert outposts before dissapearing into the stilness of the desert.
  • UIMLA guide, local desert guide, cook and dromedary handler.
  • Light walking with only a daypack. Luggage transport by the dromedaries.
  • Minimum of 6, max of 15 people.

While the Northern hemisphere is suffering its darkest months and winter storms, the deserts bask in bright days with mild temperatures. But aren’t deserts endless nothingness? Hiking in the desert is far from monotonous!

The dunes change color throughout the day and the landscapes are ever changing. We switch between oceans of dunes, rocky plateaus, oasis and mountain views. The desert is a dead place right? Be careful… What looks like a rock might be an animal! Strong winds can come out of nowhere and sand storms are possible, but our guides know where and how to best set up the camp.

There’s not just one guide. You have a full team looking after you. Your UIMLA International Mountain Leader works with locals that grew up in these deserts! A local guide, a cook and a dromedary handler are there to look after your needs and keep your safe. We all take part in setting- and packing up camp every morning and evening of the trek.

The dromedaries carry all the luggage. We recommend bringing a backpack or gym bag  and a daypack. Our dromedaries are well taken care of by their handler. It seems uncomfortable that they have a rope in their mouths during the day, but they are used to it. In the evening we get the rope from their mouths and stretch a piece of rope between the front legs so they can still walk but also that we can find them back.

We spend the evenings sitting around a fire and staring up at starry skies. Is it any wonder there are so many lyrical descriptions of the nomadic desert life? Escape the winter darkness and join us in the Sahara!

When?
  • January 5 – 12 2020

Date doesn’t work for you? Just contact us! 

Departure is guaranteed at 6 participants. To keep the group small enough to ensure a quality experience, we have a maximum number of 12 participants. 

Don’t wait too long to sign up! 6 Participants is easily reached and as soon as departure is guaranteed, we’ll let you know so you can still book cheap tickets well before departure! Last minute flights/trains are always more expensive.

Pricing

Normal price: Eur 1500 / CAD 2250 / USD 1750

One time pilot trip offer for Jan 5 – 12 2020!

! 30% DISCOUNT !

€1030 / CAD 1550 / USD 1150

What does “pilot trip” mean and why the discount? It means we are offering this experience for the first time and can’t guarantee we have everything dialled. We charge no wages for ourselves in return for your understanding that we do our best to offer the best possible experience, but are facing a range of unknowns ourselves. This trip is a learning experience for us so we can offer a finished product (at full price) in the future.

Book your trip!

To book, simply email us your interest (info@daysontrails.com) and we will respond with detailed information.

Feel free to mail/call us with any questions you might have!

What’s Included
  • Qualified UIMLA guide + local nomad guide, cook and dromedary handler.
  • Leader is first-aid trained to a higher level than usual Mountain Leader first Aid (so either Wilderness First Responder or Expedition First Aid).
  • Breakfasts on the hotel nights and all meals during the trek. Including water.
  • All transport from initial pickup until final dropoff
  • Emergency communications equipment so the leaders can deal with any incidents.
  • Support from the Days on Trails team in the build-up to the adventure.
What’s not Included
  • Travel to/from Marrakesh (We can book you tickets if needed)
  • Personal expenses
  • Personal equipment
  • Individual insurance
  • Lunch and dinner during the hotel days (day 1 and day 7)
  • Tips for the guides. Morocco has the custom of tipping the local guides when you are happy with their services.

Day 1 – Sunday – Pickup from Marrakesh airport

A 4 x 4 will pick us up at Marrakesh airport and bring us to a comfortable hotel in Marrakesch. We can use what’s left of the day to walk around or relax after our journey. Dinner at the hotel or at a restaurant in Marrakesch.

Day 2 – Monday – On to the desert!

After breakfast we depart at 08h in the morning with final destination Mhamid, last stop before the Sahara. We swing through the Tich n Tichapas, located at an altitude of 2260 metres, right through the imposing Atlas mountains. We pass along Ouarzazate, Agdz, Zagora to Mhamid and stop occasionally to stretch our legs and to grab some lunch. Around the evening we arrive in the dunes of Bertam. We have diner and stay overnight in our camp “les chansons du vent” (“the wind’s songs”).

Day 3 – Tuesday – Into the Sahara!

After breakfast and the loading of the luggage on the dromedaries we walk to the dunes of Ait Ounir, in the middle of a landscape of sand and regs, dotted with tamaris. In the distance you can see the first dunes of Erg Zaher and the Hamada du Drâa. Once night falls, the camp will be set up in the  dunes and we have dinner and overnight in a Berber tent under a beautiful starry sky.

Day 4 – Wednesday – Desert mountain

After breakfast and packing the luggage we cross the Valley of the Draa and we hike to the North with a focus on DjbelL( mountain) Bani. After lunch and the rest we walk to the dunes of Erg Smar and the well of Tel Attin. We install the camp and have dinner and overnight on a secluded spot.

Day 5 – Thursday – The mountain plateau

The dunes will be more and more spread and make room for the large plateau of the mountain DJbel Bani. After lunch in the shade of a tamarisk we hike to Oued Mezouaria. Dinner and overnight in a Berber tent.

Day 6 – Friday – Back into the dunes!

We walk through the dunes of Erg Lehoudi, towards the desert village of Mhamid. Here and there you will see crops that grow in the desert. We have dinner and overnight for the last night in the desert.

Day 7 – Saturday – An adventurous drive

After breakfast, we depart by 4X4 to Ouarzazate through the sublime Draa valley and we make a couple of stops. Possibility of visiting the kasbah of Tamnougalt. Lunch in Ouarzazate and back to Marrakech. Arrival around 19h.

Day 8 – Sunday – Flying out

Flying back out.

For a breakdown of the walking equipment you’ll need for this trip please see the summer hut trip kit list. There will also be a detailed packlist in the trip folder we’ll send you on booking. Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.

We aim for an average of 5 to 8 hours of activity depending on our choices and the conditions at the time. We walk with light packs as the dromedaries carry the bulk of the luggage. This trek is achievable to all people in good health with enough stamina to be on their feet for most part of the day.

In Marrakesch, we’ll stay in hotels and eat in restaurants. In the desert, we’ll set up basic tents on the sands and sleep on mattrasses. Make sure to bring a good sleeping bag as the temperatures can drop to around 5°C at night.

Our meals are rich, varied and especially delicious because they are prepared on the spot by a chef. Bread is freshly made and baked in the sand. Lunch is always a salad with a hot dish. At dinner there is usually soup and always a hot dish.

The breakfast is simple with bread, jam, cheese spread and honey. There’s also fruits such as oranges, apples. As snacks we have nuts and dry biscuits. All meals are served with the necessary hygienic precautions.

We take ample amounts of mineral water. During the day we sometimes pass a well where we draw water for cooking and for the dromedaries. These are also nice opportunities to freshen up for a bit as there are obviously no showers or other sanitary facilities anywhere else in the desert.

Our aim is to meet at Marrakesch airport around a similar time. If your flight time varies significantly from the others, or if you decided to be there a couple of days earlier, we can help you arrange a taxi to meet the group at the hotel.

As with any product or service, you will find seemingly similar offers at different price ranges. Offering something “cheap” usually means selling something in high volumes or compromising on quality. As a small dedicated team, we do neither. We are not a large operator that (re)sells bulk trips, to which we assign volunteers as leaders. Instead we do nearly all trip development “in-house” and assign only experienced and qualified leaders. This comes at a cost both for us and our guests. Compromise often comes at the expense of the guest. Remember, this might be your main holiday this year!

Going into remote and mountainous areas – just as any other activity in life – contains an element of risk. The biggest factor we are always dealing with is weather. As guides, the core of our job is risk reduction and risk management. We do this by careful planning and constantly re-evaluating everything while we are out on the trip. On the average day, you’re safer than you are in traffic back home. In order to deal with hazards caused by environmental conditions, we ask you to follow our gear & clothing advice as well as possible, to trust our decisions in the field and to accept there’s always a small amount of risk left. Still not convinced? Look at it like this… We make our living providing experiences. We wouldn’t have been doing it for this long if we were traumatizing and hurting people! In rare cases, extreme weather conditions can be reason for cancellation. Due to the realities of weather prediction, we can only make big decisions like this last minute.

During the winter months, temperatures can go up to as high as 25°C during the day and then drop to around 5°C at night. Rain is not expected, but possible. Sand storms may occur, but shouldn’t last long. The local guides are experienced and know how to use the landscape for shelter and finding suitable bivouac sites.

As much as we intend to avoid setbacks, they can be expensive. It is compulsory to prove that you have travel insurance covering search & rescue and repatriation. We strongly advise you to get cancellation insurance so you don’t lose any non-refundable deposits in case you can’t make it to a trip because of circumstances or due to unsafe weather conditions or natural disasters. For Canadians, travel insurance may be purchased through Georgia Hardy Tours Inc. at the time of registration. GHT and its insurance partner, T.I.P.S, offer a wide range of travel insurance plans, including but not limited to: Ultimate, All-Inclusive, Emergency Medical, Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption. People from Europe have multiple options available from insurance providers and can be purchased online. Feel free to contact us for advice.

US, Canadian and EU citizens who want to visit Morocco can do so without applying for a visa if your trip will not exceed three months. However, is it essential that all travellers arrive with a passport that is valid for at least six months from the time you enter Morocco and are in posession of a return flight ticket.

We advise you bring  two extra copies of your passport and two passport photos in case of loss of your international passport.

It is important that you let us know about any pre-existing medical conditions you have so that we can make sure we can support you fully throughout the trip. If you are concerned that a medical condition will prevent you from completing the activity, it is essential that you see your doctor and show them the itinerary. Please remember that failing to declare a medical condition could invalidate your insurance, and if there is an incident, put yourself, our guides and other members of the group at risk.

Vaccinations: There are no vaccinations required. But we advise being up to date with your dtp (difteria_tetanus_polio). A vaccination against hepatitis B is recommended .