At Rediscover the World we believe in providing our clients with the best service and key to the enjoyment of any holiday in our opinion is the balanced and up-to-date information offered by the tour operator. We are confident that the items detailed below when taken in conjunction with a reputable and reliable guide book will enhance your holiday experience as well as ensuring you receive the very best service from Rediscover the World in the UK and in Morocco.
It is important that our staff in our UK office have experienced the wonder of High Atlas hiking and are able to answer many of your important questions.
Andy, for example, has trekked in the Toubkal and Tichka regions and visited many of the places included on our hiking itineraries; he has also made it to the top of Mt Toubkal – many of the photos on our web site were taken by him and his travelling companions on his various trips to the region.
All our guides are fully licenced and are experienced from an early age in the areas our trekking itineraries cover. Our local Head Guide and trek planner, Houceine, regularly reviews our small team of guides to test their English, local knowledge and guiding abilities. There is no school of English in the Atlas Mountains so each guide has worked very hard to learn the language. We believe that a local, licenced guide will offer more insight into the High Atlas region and Berber people as well as enhancing the local economy. This is preferable and safer in our opinion than sending in a guide from outside the area whether that is the UK, Australia or even elsewhere in Morocco.
As well as a tip (see below) if you have had a great experience with your guide you may wish to offer him something of yours that will assist his duties.
Please be guided by your guide's expert advice on difficult or exposed paths and please respect the prayers of your guide and muleteers – they will usually do this outside of walking times so as not to interrupt your hiking.
Your team of muleteers, along with mules, will vary in number depending upon the size of your group and whether you are camping or staying in gites/refuge(s) but they will all perform the same function which is to provide a full back up service for your hike, cook and prepare meals and set up the evening camp.
The mule team will load up your luggage, food and, if relevant, the camping equipment at the start of each day but will not always walk either at the same time, pace or route as your hiking party so it is important that you consider which items you may require to carry yourself in the morning and then again in the afternoon as on some days you may only meet up at lunch-time.
The mules are completely used to carrying the loads and it is not unusual for them to carry in excess of 100 kgs each which is equally balanced in two baskets. The muleteers take great care in both hygiene and presentation of your food and perform wonders with such limited conditions.
We recommend you take your trekking luggage in a large holdall or rucksack which can perhaps be folded up inside your main luggage if you are also travelling around Morocco and wish to have the security of your usual suitcase(s). You should also take a suitable day pack which will carry drinking water, camera, hat, raincoat, etc. as you may not be in direct contact with your support team at all times during the day.
Even in summer we recommend you carry a light raincoat and be prepared for quick changes in the weather as in mountain regions anywhere. Sun protection is important most of the year and it is always sensible to pack layers of clothing to allow for subtle changes in temperature. Travelling in hills and mountains at any time of year can bring you into contact with extreme weather and temperatures and so a range of clothing is always recommended. Please remember that altitude also reduces temperature as does lack of cloud cover at night.
In winter much of the region above 2500m can be snow-covered and hiking in these areas could require the use of crampons and ice axes. High winds and precipitation in whatever form may preclude some routes and this will be discussed before you set out or can be modified at any time with the advice of your guide.
We will maintain our programme of trekking during the holy month of Ramadan but we would ask you to respect your team by allowing them the courtesy of eating an early breakfast (before sunrise) and to avoid, where possible, drinking, smoking and snacking immediately in front of them during the day – they will of course prepare the usual lunch though as part of their duties. There is no need to consider this as a major factor in preparing your holiday plans but please check the current calendar if you would prefer to avoid these dates.
Maps for Trekking
A very useful and highly recommended on-line store selling maps of all kinds including many trekking maps unavailable elsewhere in the UK - www.themapshop.co.uk
The refuge is simple but offers warm showers, a few western toilets and a warm lounge with electric lighting in which to read or chat with your fellow hikers. There is a full kitchen for your team to cook in and a couple of dining areas. Please note that boots must not be worn in the refuge so sandals, shoes or flip flops should be taken to keep your feet (and socks) warm, dry and clean.
If you choose to camp then Rediscover the World will pay the extra fee to allow you to use the facilities of the refuge and we recommend camping in the summer. The refuge usually has some basic provisions on sale such as water, crisps and chocolate, e.g. Mars bars.
We provide modern igloo-style tents that sleep two persons each; they are of various sizes so ideally we would like to be advised in advance if any of your party is particularly tall (6 ft or over) so that we can provide the most suitable tents for all groups.
Along with the sleeping tents we also provide one or more large traditional Berber tents for cooking, eating and socialising which make your camp a little bit special.
We also have a separate WC tent which can be hired at a small cost to cover the extra mule and time taken to erect and empty it – please ask for a quote on this as it will vary depending on group size and hike routing. If you do not wish to take this option then we recommend that one of your group brings a small trowel in your main luggage to keep the environment as clean as possible.
It is important to drink lots of water during your hike; water can be purchased in Marrakech before you set off or in Imlil. It is also possible to obtain water from small kiosks in many villages and from the trailhead of Imi Ourghlad and at the Toubkal refuge. You will need to carry some of this yourself but your mules will carry some more; please discuss with your guide the water requirements on a regular basis.
Breakfast - tea, coffee, milk, bread, butter, jam, cheese (porridge in winter and cereal in summer).
Picnic lunch - fresh Moroccan salad, cheese, slicing sausage, tinned tuna fish and sardines, bread, fruit, mint tea (pasta, beans, potatoes and rice can also be included).
Dinner - Tajine (chicken or mutton with vegetables), spaghetti, cous cous (main courses rotate depending on duration of trek, although you are more likely to get cous cous on a Friday), bread, coffee, tea, cake, fruit.
* Vegetarians, vegans and those with special dietary requirements of any kind need to advise at time of reservation.
Naturally, tipping is an entirely personal matter and a little goes a long way in Morocco; however, we are always asked for a little guidance so here is what we would consider as fair, amounts refer to your guide, a smaller amount can be given to your muleteer team:
1-3 days hiking – 100-150 dhs per person total
4-7 days hiking – 150-200 dhs per person total
7 days + hiking – 200-250 dhs per person total
Of course, you can offer more if you wish; tips are usually held and then passed over during a handshake to avoid any embarrassment or undue attention to the matter.
GRADING OF HIKES
Whilst we try to ensure that our descriptions are accurate for most people wishing to undertake hiking in the Atlas Mountains, clearly, there are many differing factors that contribute to the difficulty of a particular hike.
These include the length of day, terrain, altitude and weather conditions. Since these factors are necessarily variable, any system of grades can only provide a general indication.
We have tried to make our system as clear as possible but it cannot account for personal abilities or experience.
CLIMBING MOUNT TOUBKAL
The hike to the top of this peak which is almost 1000m up from the refuge will usually take at least 3 hours and start at 5am followed by a fairly hard 2-3 hours walk down amongst the loose rocks by another route where possible. It is essential that you are fully prepared for what is for many people a demanding walk. Try to get a good sleep the night before and a good breakfast (plus a Mars bar!) before setting off.
You are likely to need warm clothes all year round and strong boots are essential, even in summer a warm hat would be useful as well as some protection from the wind. If you climb down the northern route then look out for the wreckage of a plane which hit Toubkal in bad weather in the early 1960s, purported to be carrying guns from Portugal.
It is vitally important that you respect the mountain environment; litter, in particular, is damaging the landscape and can injure animals. Please, please, please take all your litter home or drop it off at suitable points.
Our guiding teams are proud guardians of their natural heritage and will ensure that rubbish is collected and either taken out or burned where possible. In fact our guiding teams have been known to take a few extra minutes to collect and burn the rubbish of groups that were not so environmentally sensitive. Some organic matter can be left as much of it will be eaten by the local goats.
ACCOMMODATION PRE & POST HIKE
We would highly recommend the following two options:
Kasbah (Douar) Samra in Tamatert (1800m) which is above Imlil.
This is a beautiful spot to start your experience in the High Atlas as well as offering some acclimatisation for your trekking experience. There are double rooms, twin rooms and suites and as well as a warm welcome you are also offered an excellent dinner and breakfast. Your guide or Houcine will collect you from the door in the morning
Houcine’s Gite D’Etape in Imlil can also be used for the night before but we would recommend it more for the night after your trek to provide a more relaxed end rather than rushing back to Marrakech. Mohammed has some simple double rooms with ensuite shower and WC and is the perfect host if you wish to discuss your hike.
We also recommend using the village hammam next door to the house in the morning.
OUR PRICES INCLUDE: Experienced, licensed, bi-lingual mountain guide throughout. Round trip transportation to trailheads from and to Marrakech. Tents and undermats or refuge/gite accommodation, cook, meals; pack animals and muleteers.
OUR PRICES DO NOT INCLUDE: Personal medical or accident insurance. Any expenditure of a personal nature. Bottled or gaseous water (bottled water is available to buy in most villages), nor anything not specifically mentioned in the itinerary.
IT IS RECOMMENDED YOU BRING (depending on season):
Good walking boots (boots which take crampons November to Mid April); sleeping bag (3-4 seasons); waterproofs and fleece/duvet jackets, hats, balaclavas or ear muffs; gloves; rambler or ski pole; personal toiletries; small First Aid kit, thermal underwear (Dec-May); day pack; filled water bottle(s) and purifying tablets/drops (iodine usually); torch and batteries (LED head torches are excellent), penknife (remember not to pack in hand baggage for flight); quick-drying medium-sized towel, sunscreen, flip-flops / sandals, insect repellent, hygienic 'wipes', nibbles and/or dried fruit, energy sweets. Camping mug (otherwise it is small Moroccan tea glasses for everything), drinking chocolate if preferred. Toilet rolls will come in handy!