Morocco Camel Trek

14 Day Desert Expedition across Southern Morocco with
Award-winning Desert Explorer Michael Asher

‘Having walked the entire breadth of the Sahara himself, and examined the lives of two of the greatest desert explorers of the last century… Asher understands this passion, this place, and these people, as well as any Westerner alive.’ US writer and historian Dean King,  author of Skeletons On the Zahara
Morocco Camel Trek
HIGHLIGHTS
  • A wilderness experience
  • Spectacular landscapes
  • Sand-Dunes
  • Meeting Berber families
  • Camel riding 
  • Sleeping out under the stars (optional)
  • Sunrise over the Erg Chebbi
  • Exploring the Medinas of Marrakesh and Fez
  • Being accompanied by desert explorer Michael Asher
THE GUIDE

Author, historian, and deep ecologist, Michael Asher is perhaps Britainís most distinguished desert explorer. A former soldier in the SAS, he is a graduate of the University of Leeds. Asher has travelled more than 30,000 miles by camel, and has won the Ness Award of the Royal Geographical Society, and the Mungo Park Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for desert exploration.

Resident in Kenya for more than two decades, he has also lived in both Morocco and the Sudan, where he spent 3 years with a nomad tribe, the Kababish, as one of them. A fluent speaker of both Arabic and Swahili, he and his wife Mariantonietta Peru made the first recorded crossing the Sahara desert from west to east by camel - a journey of 4500 miles, without modern technology. The author of 23 books, mostly connected with the desert and its people, Asher is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and has presented 6 TV documentaries: he is an acknowledged expert on the Sahara Desert.

Morocco Camel Trek
A member of the Deep Ecology Movement, Michael Asher is dedicated to the restoration of wilderness through the adoption of a new nature-based world view. For more, see Wikipedia, under Michael Asher (explorer).

MOROCCO & THE SAHARA

The Sahara desert stretches across parts of ten countries, but Morocco has always been its most important northern gateway. From time immemorial the oases of southern Morocco were the major termini of the great trading caravans that brought gold, slaves, and ivory from centres such as Timbuctoo in the African interior. The old trading caravans are long gone, but in southern Morocco it is still possible to travel at the pace of the camel in the company of desert people, through a fantastic landscape of mountains, plains and sand-dunes.

This camel trek takes place in one of the most remote regions of Morocco - a world of palm-groves and ancient fortress-villages, inhabited by tribes of both Arab and Berber descent, many of whom still migrate to the high pastures of the Anti-Atlas with their flocks of goats and sheep. A region of eroded rocky outcrops, deep sided wadis, and rolling vales, it lies south of the Atlas foothills. Alternating between volcanic rock and sandy sheets, between mystical, arid plains, high rolling dunes, and tiny oases where men graze their animals, this is an ideal area for trekking or camel-riding.

Morocco Camel Trek
TRIP PROFILE

On this two week trip we cross the desert between Tazzarine & Merzouga, travelling as Moroccan nomads have done for centuries. Taking almost no modern technology, we carry our entire world on camelback, with no prearranged camps, and no motor support. Moving at the steady pace of 4 to 5 km (2-3 miles) an hour, we pass into an alternative dimension. We cover an average of 22 km (about 14 miles) a day, on foot or by camel, experiencing the peace and harmony that comes from a closer connection with the Earth.

The desert varies in texture from green wadis and palm groves, through towering dunes, rolling stony plains, mystical sand-sheets, stark rocky outcrops, sweeping cliff walls, deep gorges and dark volcanic mountains, with hot days and cool nights under a brilliant canopy of stars.

To enjoy this trek you must be in good physical condition. The combination of walking, riding, occasional wind, cold, and heat, makes it a significant challenge. We cover a total of about 200 km (125 miles) in all.

Insect nuisances, snakes and scorpions, are a limited danger. Dehydration is ever-present, but can be prevented by consuming a minimum of five litres of water per day. The guide will be carrying a full medical kit and will have access to evacuation facilities in an emergency.

ITINERARY
14 Day Trip
  • Day 1: Arrival into Marrakech Airport. On arrival you will be met at the airport and transfer the short distance into the city to the Hotel. In the late afternoon, you have a chance to visit the Medina and the Jma al-Fna. Night at the Farah Hotel (B/B)

  • Day 2: We journey by minibus to Tazzarine across the breath-taking High Atlas mountains via the Tizi'n'Tichka pass. Descending the Draa valley from Ouarzarzate, we find ourselves in a different Morocco, of palm-trees, and kasbahs (fortified villages). We turn off the main road, following the Oued Ousrai through the village of N'Kob, arriving at the oasis of Tazzarine in the late afternoon.1 night in a small auberge or camping (F/B)

  • Morocco Camel Trek
  • Day 3:This morning we meet our camels and camel-men. While the camel-men are loading, Michael gives instruction in mounting and dismounting, and in camel and desert lore. We set off with the caravan through rocky outcrops and sand-dunes, passing through the villages of Timganine and Seghdrar, heading south towards Taghbalt. Camp in the desert near Taghbalt. (F/B)

  • Day 4: Today we pass the village of Taghbalt situated on both sides of the wadi. We follow the winding course of the dry-wash, beneath steep rocky walls, passing through palm-groves and hamlets where Berber families tend their goats and sheep. Camp in the desert near Houda. (F/B)

  • Day 5: We follow the dry river-bed through shady palm plantations as far as the village of Techka, nestled in a bend in the wadi, then head along a rocky mountain-trail to the oasis of Oum Jrane, a centre of the famous Ait 'Atta tribe. Camp near Oum Jrane. (F/B)

  • Morocco Camel Trek
  • Day 6: : We trek along the wadi, leaving Oum Jrane behind us, and entering a vast plain, where we join the ancient caravan route from Zagora. We pass through a deep gorge with a rocky escarpment on one side, and sand-dunes covered with tamarisk trees on the other, heading for Atshanat wells, a centre for local Arab and Berber nomads. Camp in the sand near the wells. (F/B)

  • Day 7:In the morning we water the camels at the wells: there may be a chance to visit traditional nomads in their tents. We pass on across black desert into low dunes, approaching the village of Tafraoute Sidi Ali, across a long, flat sebkha. Camp on high ground near Tafraoute. (F/B)
  • Morocco Camel Trek
  • Day 8: We climb the slopes above Tafraoute, crossing a single dune-barrier, then descend slowly through a deep gorge with sheer black walls. We pass through a bottle-neck at the end of the gorge, and halt for lunch in a grove of acacia trees. In the afternoon we press on through an amazingly varied desert terrain of alluvial fans, dry river-basins, deep wadis, and thick tamarisk groves, to Ramlia village. Camp near Ramlia. (F/B)

  • Day 9: We trek along the edge of a salt-pan, cross successive waves of dunes, then descend on to a stony plain. In the afternoon we climb up into the hills, following winding tracks, and make camp inside a wadi on a vast plain. Camp in the desert. (F/B)

  • Day 10: We pass the village of Jannin, crossing great open plains, through tamarisk groves, and across salt-plains: we climb through the heart of Djebel Filon Famarine, descending into the small oasis of Laatrous. Camp in the desert. (F/B)

  • Day 11: We traverse the Wadi Ziz, a wide sebkha criss-crossed with channels shrouded in tamarisk, and dominated by the huge pillars of old acacias. We approach the great Erg Chebbi, and spend the rest of the day trekking through dunes as high as 150 feet. Camp in the dunes. (F/B)
  • Morocco Camel Trek
  • Day 12: A two-hour trek brings us to the village of Merzouga, where we say goodbye to our camels and rendezvous with our minibus and driver. As we drive through palm-groves and mud-brick villages, where villagers come and go on donkeys and mules, we pass through Rissani, part of the great Tafilalet oasis. From here we will journey north across the passes of the High Atlas, through the great cedar forests, descending slowly to the city of Fez. Our hotel for this evening Riad al-Yacout is located in the Medina or Old Town of the city. (B/B)

  • Day 13: Full day in the Medina of Fez - a labyrinth of thousands of alleys and winding covered passages, where mules are still used to transport goods. In the morning there is a tour with a professional guide, visiting the Al Attare Madrasa, the Chouara tannery, the metal-smiths souk, caravanserais and traditional weavers. After lunch in the Medina, you have the chance to explore the souks alone. Night at a hotel. (B/B)

  • Day 14:Transfer to Fez airport and return home.
PRICE
  • £2200.00 (Pounds Sterling), Excluding International Flights to Morocco
  • (A single supplement option is available price: £290.00 (Pounds Sterling)
WEATHER

Days are generally warm in October-November, warm to cool in January-February, warm to hot in March-April (daytime av. 27C, night-time av 13C). Nights are cool throughout the winter months and may be cold in January with temperatures down to zero.

IS THIS TRIP FOR YOU?

The trek requires no special technical skills. You will need to be fit and a fairly experienced walker, capable of travelling in a remote region for 10 days without external support. You will be expected to walk at a pace of between 3 and 5 kilometres per hour (2-3 mph) for a maximum of 8 hours a day, though of course your riding camel will be available whenever you wish to ride (please note, as specified above, that camel-riding requires fitness and some agility).

The normal practice is for everyone to walk for the first hour in the morning. Thereafter, some people prefer to ride, while others prefer to walk. The caravan halts every hour, and during the break you can change from walking to riding or vice-versa. You wonít have to handle the camel yourself, and you donít have to carry your own kit or provisions. You might find it convenient, though, to carry your own day pack with valuables, water, and immediate requirements, such as sun-block, sunglasses etc. A personal water-bottle is a must: some people prefer a 2 litre soft plastic water bag with drinking tube, of the Camelís Back type: however, no expensive kit is required: recycled supermarket mineral-water bottles are quite adequate.

All cooking will be managed by a professional cook, assisted by the handlers. Expedition members should be prepared to put up their own tents. Water will be drawn from wells en-route in nomad fashion. Though well water is generally clean and palatable, it will be treated as a further precaution.

INSURANCE

It is a condition of joining this trip that you must be insured against medical and personal accident risks.

GROUP, STAFF AND SUPPORT

The trip is led by Michael Asher, five camel handlers, and a Cook.

ACCOMMODATION

You will spend the first and last night in a comfortable hotel in Marrakech. On Day 2 we will use a small Auberge or camp in Tazzerine. On Day 13 we stay in the comfortable Riad al-Yacout in Fez. Expedition members will normally share twin rooms, though a single supplement may be available. On trek, accommodation will consist of two-man bivouac tents shared on the same basis. Or you may prefer to sleep under the stars in nomad fashion. Single Accommodation Ė A limited number of single rooms/tents may be available at an extra cost of, on a strictly first come first served basis. These must be booked and paid for in advance.

FOOD

All meals are included, with the following exceptions: dinner in Marrakech on Day 1, dinner in Fez on Days 12 and 13. Please advise us at least two weeks before departure if you have any special dietary requirements.

TRANSPORT

Transport to Tazzarine for the beginning of the trek, and to Fez at the end will be by minibus. The rest of the trek will be entirely by camel. You will have your own camel with riding saddle, which will carry you and your day gear if and when you wish. The bulk of your personal equipment will be carried on the baggage camels and may not be available except at lunchtime and at camp in the evening. The caravan halts for 5 to 10 minutes every hour for mounting and dismounting. Whether you wish to walk with the camels, ride, or alternate between the two, is entirely up to you

EXTRA EXPENSES AND SPENDING MONEY

Depending upon how much shopping you wish to do we suggest you bring around £50 - £100

TIPPING

If you would like to tip the local staff, we suggest a figure of about (£2) a day while on trek to be divided among them (approx £20).

WHAT TO TAKE
  • Walking boots, shoes or sandals
  • Loose-fitting, lightweight trousers
  • Pullover, fleece or sweatshirt
  • Windproof anorak or smock
  • Hat/scarf
  • Torch
  • Water bottle (2 litres)
  • Rehydration sachets are recommended
  • Pocket-knife
  • 3-4 season sleeping bag
  • Day pack
  • Sunblock
  • Washing kit
  • Towel
  • Soft frame rucksack or kitbag (no suitcases)
RESPONSIBLE TOURISM

We are aware that ecotourism can impact on the landbase, in that it promotes motor and air travel. On the other hand, we aim to keep our footprint down to the bare minimum - we use vehicles only before and after the trek on asphalt roads: we leave no traces in the desert itself – rubbish is burned, buried or carried with us, and only deadfall is used as fuel. The object of the expedition is to promote a sense of harmony with the wilderness – a relationship that may prove of crucial value to our future survival.

Please Note: The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith, and covers the average range of conditions likely to be found on this trip. Where differences exist in the information between these Trip Notes and our current brochure, the Trip Notes are the correct version and supersede the brochure. Abnormal conditions or other events beyond our control can prevail at any time, particularly in remote or off the beaten track destinations, therefore all holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary.