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Willen Hospice Sahara Trek and community project

18th Mar 2023 - 25th Mar 2023

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 then spend two days helping a community project in Marrakech. We anticipate you will help an organisation which supports vulnerable young people with education and vocational training after they have been orphaned, abused or rejected by their family. The organisation also supports elderly people whose families have abandoned them by creating a comfortable social environment for them to spend their golden years. Your tasks will vary depending on the need at the time but you’re likely to get involved with refurbishment, redecorating and gardening which will make an instant impact at this incredible centre.

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

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 riverbeds, 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.

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 riverbeds, 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.

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.

To get to and from the desert requires long drives (approx. 9 hours including breaks) along winding mountain roads which offer stunning views of the snow-capped peaks and lush valleys. If you suffer from motion sickness you are advised to bring your usual anti-nausea medication with you. Regular stops are taken.

During the trek you will sleep in tents (two to a tent), or if the weather is good you can sleep outside under the stars; highly recommended! Foam sleeping mats are provided but you will need to bring a sleeping bag. Toilet facilities consist of a small toilet ‘tent’ covering a hole in the ground. There are no showers or bathing facilities in the desert so you must bring a pack of baby wipes.

During the trek meals are cooked by a chef who will prepare Moroccan dishes. Breakfast and lunch will be eaten alfresco, and evening meals will be in a mess tent at camp. Plates, mugs, cutlery and other equipment are provided. While staying in Marrakech (and Ouarzazate if applicable) meals will be at the hotel, the project or at local restaurants.

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.

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
Trek socks & underwear
Non-cotton long sleeved top\shirt
Non-cotton t-shirts
Fleece, sweater or warm jacket
Sun hat with wide brim
Lightweight trek trousers
Warm hat for night
Neck cooling ‘Cobber’
Gaiters (for the sand)
Casual clothes for Marrakech
Swimwear for hotel

Hygiene

Shampoo + conditioner*
Toothbrush + toothpaste*
Antiperspirant deodorant*
Shower gel/ shave kit / loofah*
Wet wipes*
Toilet paper (1-2 rolls)*
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
Nail brush

Luggage

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

Eating and Drinking

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

Sleeping

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

Please note: This list is just a guideline and is not exhaustive. The items on this list do not take into account your personal preferences based on your previous trekking experience, or individual requirements. For information about items on this list please refer to the trip dossier or contact The Different Travel Company on info@different-travel.com

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

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

Itinerary

Day 1 (Saturday 18 March 2023):

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 19 March 2023):

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 20 – Tuesday 21 March 2023):

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. trek distance: 15-20km per day
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5 (Wednesday 22 March 2023):

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 23 – Friday 24 March 2023):

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 25 March 2023):

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

Optional extension

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.
*Flights from regional airports may be possible. Details will be confirmed approximately 6 months prior to departure.

Costs & How to pay

Registration fee: £390
and then either…

Sponsorship: £2100

or 

Flexi: £1050 trip costs and £1050 sponsorship for Willen Hospice

SPONSORSHIP

This option is for those who wish to raise sponsorship to cover both the costs of the trip (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) and a donation to East Cheshire Hospice. There is a minimum sponsorship amount for the tour that you are required to raise for East Cheshire Hospice in order to participate.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • £1680 (80% of the sponsorship) must be raised by 16 December 2022.
  • The final £420 must be paid to the charity by 3 March 2023.
  • 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 of £1050 and at least £630 fundraising must be paid by 16 December 2022.
  • A further £420 will be raised by 3 March 2023.
  • 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* (inc. current taxes and fuel surcharges),
  • Transfers and transport in Morocco
  • Accommodation in hotels (4 nights)
  • Tents and sleeping mats on trek (3 nights)
  • All meals as specified
  • Local guides, camels and camel handlers on trek
  • Project co-ordination and materials
  • Different Travel UK tour manager.

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Tips (£25-30pp)
  • Personal expenses (e.g. drinks, souvenirs etc.)
  • Vaccinations

Got a Question?

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