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Heart of Kent Hospice Sahara Desert Trek

5th Nov 2022 - 12th Nov 2022

8 days/Morocco /Moderate

Overview

This trek in the Moroccan Sahara gives you an insight into this vast and diverse landscape as well as the Berber way of life. You will spend two full days and two half days trekking across ancient dried up river beds, sand dunes and vast sun-baked plains. Camping each night gives you a chance to experience the stunning stars in the night sky (weather permitting) and the traditional Berber cuisine cooked by the team is second to none. You will also spend two days helping a community project in Marrakech.

There is also the option to extend your stay after the trek to explore more of Morocco for an additional cost.

A moderately challenging trip for someone of a good fitness level. The terrain is a mixture of hard, flat sun-dried plains, dried up ancient river beds, wide sandy dune fields and hard rocky outcrops. Temperatures pose a specific challenge with temperatures historically reaching 35°C. You must be of a good fitness level before departure, to ensure fast recovery each day.

You will be accompanied by professional English-speaking Berber guides who have an excellent knowledge of culture and hiking in the region. The guides are first aid trained and will support you throughout your journey. You will also be accompanied by a team of support staff including cooks and camel handlers, and a Different Travel Company UK tour manager.

It’s not just sand! The terrain is a mixture of hard, flat sun dried plains, dried up ancient river beds, wide sandy dune fields and hard rocky outcrops.

Temperatures can range from 25°C to 35°C during the day, and drop to around 0°C at night however you must be prepared for variations to this which are out of our control. Weather during the trek will be dry but there may be some strong winds. Rain, although very rare, is not impossible.
Please note: the temperatures and conditions above are historically accurate but climate change can impact the seasons so you may experience uncharacteristic conditions during the trip which are out of our control. The guides will assess the situation and make decisions to ensure the best enjoyment and safety of the group.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included throughout the trip as specified on the itinerary. Typically breakfast will comprise of bread, pancakes, jams, soft cheese and hot drinks, lunch tends to include fresh salads, pasta, bread and evening meals begins with a soup, followed by tagine (a traditional chicken, beef or lamb stew with vegetables served in a clay pot) served with vegetables, bread and couscous, and a dessert of fresh fruit. A cup of mint or verbena tea is commonly used to end the meal. Please notify us of any dietary requirements at the time of booking.

You will stay in a hotel with en-suite facilities while in Marrakech (and Ouarzazate if flight arrival times permit us to start the journey to the desert upon arrival), and you will camp during the trek. You will stay in hotel rooms on a twin or triple-share basis, and there will be two people per tent while camping. A single-occupancy hotel room may be possible subject to availability and payment of a single supplement. During the trek, weather permitting, there may be the opportunity to sleep outside under the stars; this is strongly recommended. Tents and sleeping mats are provided but you must bring a sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner. A dining tent, cutlery and crockery are provided.

The hotels have en-suite facilities with flushing toilets and hot showers. Toilet paper should always be placed in the bin, not flushed. At camp there will be a toilet tent which offers privacy over a pit in the sand. Please put used toilet paper into a sealable nappy bag or sanitary disposal bag and put into the main trek bin bag. After you have used the toilet, please cover your waste with sand to avoid smells and flies for the next person who visits the toilet tent. There are no bathing facilities during the trek so please bring a small pack of baby wipes and a bottle of hand sanitizer for personal hygiene. If you need to use the toilet during the trek day you must find a private area off the trail. You must never leave used toilet paper on the ground; this must be packed up into a nappy bag or sanitary disposal bag, pop it in your daypack and dispose of it properly at camp (please bring your own nappy sacks with you). You should bring one to two rolls of toilet paper for your own use.

The minimum age is 18. It may be possible to participate if you are 16 or 17 years old but you must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. There is no upper age limit. The ideal candidate would be fit, healthy and determined, open to adventure and adaptable to unexpected changes.

If you do not already regularly exercise it is crucial that you start training before departure to ensure your best chance of enjoyment on the trip. The best training is walking long distances over hilly terrain while wearing the boots and carrying the backpack you will use in the desert. Other exercises to complement this and increase your overall fitness and health include running, cycling, gym workouts, boot camps, etc. You can download a number of free apps, which will help you train and track your progress. E.g. MyFitnessPal, MapMyWalk, C25K (couch to 5k run) etc. If you attempt to complete the trek without training it will make each day more difficult than necessary and will hinder your experience and the experience of your teammates.

Each day’s trek will vary in duration but on average you will trek for 5-8 hours per day, covering approximately 15-20km, with a long break at lunchtime when you will spend a few hours relaxing through the heat of the day.

The trek is rated moderately challenging for someone of a good fitness level. The terrain is a mixture of hard, flat sundried plains, dried up ancient river beds, wide sandy dune fields and hard rocky outcrops. Temperatures pose a specific challenge with temperatures historically reaching 35°C. You must be of a good fitness level before departure, to ensure fast recovery each day.

We require a medical form to be completed by everyone upon registering, and any pre-existing conditions, medications used and other medical issues must be specified. All your medical details are treated in the strictest confidence.

The information will be securely screened by a qualified medical professional, and details provided to your tour manager and local guides so our staff are adequately informed and prepared to support you during the trip. By completing this booking form you are giving consent for us to contact you confidentially with any follow up questions regarding your health.

If you declare any medical conditions you may be asked to provide more information, or we may request to contact your GP. We must be informed if any conditions or medication change, or if new conditions develop. If necessary confirmation of fitness to travel from your GP or specialist may be required.

In the event that your medical issues represent a concern for your safety and wellbeing, or the safety and wellbeing of others in the group, you may be recommended not to take part. If this happens your deposit will be refunded. Please note that we will never unreasonably deny participation on a trip nor contravene the Equality Act 2010.

Essentials

E-tickets & pre-departure info
Passport & copy
Travel Insurance documents
Pen for immigration forms
Cash (£ Sterling)
ATM + credit card(s)
LED head torch + spare batteries
Adaptor 2 round pins (Euro)
Sunglasses (preferably polarized)
Camera + spare batteries
Mobile phone + charger

Clothing & Footwear

Hiking boots*
Trainers/flip flops for evenings
Casual shoes for Marrakech
Lightweight trek trousers
Trek socks & underwear
Non-cotton long sleeved top\shirt
Non-cotton t-shirts
Warm fleece or sweater
Sun hat with wide brim
Warm hat for night
Neck cooling ‘Cobber’
Gaiters (for the sand)
Buff (http://buffwear.co.uk)
Casual clothes for Marrakech
Swimwear for hotel

Hygiene

Shampoo + conditioner*
Toothbrush + toothpaste*
Antiperspirant deodorant*
Shower gel/ shave kit / loofah*
Wet wipes*
Toilet paper*
Sun cream (high SPF)*
Hand sanitizer
Hairbrush/comb
Feminine hygiene products*
Nappy sacks* (for used toilet paper)

First Aid Kit

Prescription medicine
50% DEET insect repellent
Ibuprofen and Paracetamol
Plasters
Blister plasters (e.g. Compeed)
Imodium (Loperamide)
Rehydration salts (e.g. Dioralyte)
Muscle rub (tiger balm/Deep Heat)
Anti-histamine tablets/cream
Antiseptic wipes
Indigestion remedy (e.g. Gaviscon)
Lip balm with SPF protection
Scissors/tweezers
Zinc oxide tape 
Spare glasses/contact lenses

Optional

Video Camera + charger
iPod/MP3 player
Umbrella (for the sun)
Hiking pole(s)
Portable power bank/power pack
Notebook/diary
Books/playing cards

Luggage

Suitcase/rucksack for luggage
Trek kit bag/holdall (carried by camels)
Daypack (25-30 litres)
Combination Padlocks

Eating and Drinking

Energy snacks
2 litre water bottle (e.g. CamelBak) plus
1-litre standard water bottle OR
3x 1-litre water bottles
Electrolyte tablets (e.g. NUUN)

Sleeping

Ear plugs (essential)
Sleeping bag (comfort -0°C)
Sleeping bag liner (cotton/silk)
Pyjamas (use thermals on trek)

Project equipment

Old clothes
Gloves for project (e.g. gardening)
Trainers or boots

Please note: This list is not exhaustive and does not account for your personal taste or preference. It should be used as a guideline only. If you have any questions or queries regarding this list which are not answered in the sections above please contact info@different-travel.com.

*Please ensure you pack your boots in your hand baggage in the unlikely event your luggage is delayed or goes missing.

*Please consider eco-friendly or biodegradable options. Consider shopping at Little Footprint Gifts.

Itinerary

Day 1 (Saturday 5 November 2022):

London to Marrakech
We fly together to Marrakech where we are met by our guide and transfer to our hotel for the night. Depending on flight arrival times we may start the journey to the desert today and stay in Ouarzazate tonight (approx. 4-5 hours).
Meals: Dinner

Day 2 (Sunday 6 November 2022):

Marrakech to Sahara
If staying in Marrakech we set off early, crossing the Atlas Mountains and following ancient caravan routes into the Sahara, stopping for lunch in Ouarzazate on the way (journey time approx. 9 hours including stops.) If starting in Ouarzazate the journey to the desert takes approximately 4-5 hours. This afternoon we will arrive in the desert and be welcomed by the rest of the trek team and the camels before commencing our trek, stopping overnight to camp under the stars of the Sahara.
Trekking: Approx. trek distance 5km
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 3–4 (Monday 7 – Tuesday 8 November 2022):

Sahara Desert
Our trek continues through the desert as we traverse sand dunes and rocky, lunar landscapes for the next two days. We are aided by our local Berber team comprising of the guides, cook and camel owners (the camels are our porters, carrying our luggage and equipment). Each day you enjoy the varied Saharan landscape and learn about how important it is to respect and comply with the forces of nature in the desert. On average we will cover 15-20km per day but this will vary. As the trek progresses we learn how the nomadic people of the Sahara live: from cooking to sleeping out under the stars and reading the magnificent Saharan night sky.
Trekking: Approx 15-20km a day
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5 (Wednesday 9 November 2022):

Sahara to Marrakech
This morning it’s the final leg of the trek to a small village where we bid farewell to the trek team and head back to Marrakech (approx. 9 hours’ drive).
Trekking: Approx. trek distance 5km
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6-7 (Thursday 10 – Friday 11 November 2022):

Marrakech
After a good night’s rest we spend two days assisting at the community project. Typical tasks include decorating, refurbishment, gardening or generally working to improve the environment. No experience is necessary, just a willingness to get involved.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8 (Saturday 12 November 2022):

Marrakech to London
Depending on flight times, have some free time to explore Marrakech before your flight back to London.
Meals: Breakfast

There is also the option to extend your stay after the trek to explore more of Morocco. See Costs + how to pay tab for more details.

N.B. This itinerary may change due to unusual weather, the ability of the group and so on. We will do our best to keep to the itinerary but we cannot be held responsible for changes that occur outside of our control. In all circumstances your guide and tour leader will have the final say in the interest of the group’s health and safety.

Costs & How to pay

Registration fee: £320
and then either…

Sponsorship: £1900

or

Flexi Pricing: £950 trip costs and £950 fundraising for the Heart of Kent Hospice

SPONSORSHIP

There is a minimum sponsorship amount for the tour that you are required to raise for the Charity in order to participate.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • The minimum sponsorship must be paid to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • The amount the charity receives is at least 50% of the minimum sponsorship total.

FLEXI

This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves while still raising some funds for the charity.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • Trip cost balance is payable to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • Any fundraising undertaken cannot be used for your trip costs.

OPTIONAL TRIP EXTENSION

2-night shared occupancy (twin or triple) extension: £145

  • Two additional nights’ accommodation* with breakfast plus a return airport transfer based on 2 people sharing a twin room.

*You will be accommodated in the same hotel as is used for the group during the main trip. This is TBC but is likely to be Hotel Al Andalous or similar.

2-night single occupancy extension: £190

  • Two additional nights’ accommodation* with breakfast plus a return airport transfer in a single occupancy room.

*You will be accommodated in the same hotel as is used for the group during the main trip. This is TBC but is likely to be Hotel Amani or similar.

Independent extension: £40

  • Fly home on any date of your choosing (subject to flight schedules). Please specify your preferred date in the booking notes section.
  • You will need to arrange your own accommodation and airport transfers for your additional days.
  • The cost is £40 plus any difference in cost in the flight airfare on your chosen return date.

What's included

  • Return flights from London
  • Current airport taxes and fuel surcharges
  • All transfers and transport in Morocco
  • Accommodation in 3 star hotels (4 nights)
  • Tents and sleeping mats on trek (3 nights)
  • English-speaking local guides
  • Support staff, camels and camel handlers on trek
  • All meals as specified
  • Project co-ordination and materials
  • Different Travel UK tour manager

What's not included

  • Any necessary vaccinations
  • Drinks, laundry and personal expenses (e.g. souvenirs etc)
  • Tips (£25-30pp)
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal Trek Kit

Got a Question?

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