Trekking in Morocco: Happy Valley in High Atlas

Trip Code: XMXH

Why we love it

Enjoy a hiking holiday in arguably the most beautiful valley in the Central High Atlas Mountains – Ait Bougmez or Happy Valley. This is Morocco’s best-kept secret., Rub shoulders with the local Amazigh people who call this mountain valley their home, by staying in authentic gites (mountain homes) and sharing home-cooked meals with countless cups of Moroccan tea., Explore the community granary of Sidi Chita – a ruin of the holy house of Marabout (a Muslim holy man or hermit) located on the hill with sweeping views of the valley below., Trek through small rural villages, cereal crops and under the shade of hundred-year-old walnut trees, where the welcoming locals will greet you into their world, sharing stories and culture., Explore the famous Bin El Ouidane Lake, which forms one of the most picturesque landscapes in the area – by boat and hike. Then, enjoy a tasty lunch in the nearby White Water Gite., By travelling on this trip, you’ll learn about our Intrepid Foundation partner, Education for All. Donations help them support girls in the High Atlas Mountains through secondary school, bringing a generation of women out of the cycle of illiteracy, poverty and early marriage. Intrepid will double the impact by dollar-matching all post-trip donations made to The Intrepid Foundation.

Is this trip right for me?

This is a walking trip, so you should expect to be on your feet for most of the day. A good level of fitness will help you to enjoy the experience fully.

Once on the trek, you’ll spend most of the nights in atmospheric gites – a traditional Amazigh-style mud-brick building. They’re basic, but half of their charm comes from the simplicity. Low ceilings, traditional artwork and locally made furniture add to the rustic mountain vibe.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip and applies to all nights. Availability is limited, so please enquire with your booking agent for further information.
2. This is a hiking trip and on some days you should expect to be on the trail for up to 7 hours. This trip does not go on the altitude and treks lead predominantly through the valleys, but there are some ascents and descents. It is not possible to opt out from the hikes as public transport is not available to take you through to the next overnight destination. Good physical form will help you to fully enjoy all included treks.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.

Many travellers carry their luggage in a compact smaller suitcase or backpack with wheels. We recommend your bag has carry straps or handles so it is easy to lift and carry for the times you are unable to wheel it (ie. on rough surfaces or up steps).

If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. Large suitcases may not be able to be taken on board. A lockable bag or small padlock for your bag will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.

You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, swimming suit, waterproof pouch/bag for phone, hiking shoes and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:, https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list, What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

Please follow the link for the Intrepid’s ultimate packing list. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/us/packing-list

On this strip you will be required to bring a specific Hiking Equipment.

HIKING EQUIPMENT:
Trekking Boots (broken in)
Waterproof 3/4 season jacket and trousers
Comfortable Footwear (ie sneakers or booties)
Several pairs of good quality socks
T-Shirts - Highly recommended are synthetic t-shirt styles that wick away moisture
Thermal Underwear / layers
Warm mid layers (fleece/micro fibre)
Trousers - Lightweight, loose fitting, trekking trousers.
Shorts or skirt for summer
Warm Hat and sun Hat
Scarf/neck warmer
Sunglasses with UV protection
Head Torch (spare batteries)
Sunscreen and Lip Balm
Light weight towel
Personal First Aid Kit
Biodegradable wet wipes / toilet paper
Hand sanitizer gel
Trail mix / nuts/ muesli bars
Thermos for hot tea or coffee

Daypack – You will be required to carry some essentials by yourself, so your daypack must have the capacity for several items: rain jacket, trousers, warm clothing including hat and gloves, water bottle, camera equipment, sun cream, sunglasses and all other items you may need during the walk. You should consider day packs of at least a 30 to 40 litre capacity. Your main luggage will be carried by mule all the way up to the refuge and items like sleeping bag, spare clothes, etc can be stored in there., WATER BOTTLE
Please bring your own water bottle to refill along the way. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided on some of our vehicles and at some of our accommodation. Your group leader or local representative will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination and if it is you can simply refill with tap water. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day. If you are walking or trekking as part of your trip you will need to carry at least 2L of water with you., DRONES IN MOROCCO
Please note that drones are not permitted to enter or be used in Morocco, neither for personal nor professional/commercial use.

Physical rating

4

You’re in for a hiking trip and a good level of fitness is essential. We don't ask travellers to complete a physical participation form for this trip however we do ask you read through the trip notes carefully to ensure that this trip is the right trip for you. You must be comfortable hiking up to 8-9 hours a day, with many steep uphill sections, uneven, rocky terrain and in unpredictable weather.

If you’re already a regular exerciser, it might be an idea to up your game a little. Run those extra laps, or take few longer walks, ideally with a day pack on your back. If you’re not exercising so regularly (2-3 times a week), it’s important to start in the weeks leading up to your departure (4-6 weeks prior at least). Your best choice would be to start walking regularly 2-3 times a week including at least one longer walk (up to 15 km). It’s important to not only walk on flat surface, so if you cannot access a hilly terrain easily, walking up and down the stairs is a good replacement. Top that up with some general fitness exercises and any other cardio related classes and you will see a huge progress in your fitness levels.

Joining your group

Moroccan House Hotel Marrakech, 3 Rue Loubnane, Gueliz, Marrakech, 40000, MOROCCO, Phone: +212 524420305

Alternate Joining Point

For trips departing on the following dates
use this joining point.
01 Aug 2024 (XMXH240801)
Hotel Le Caspien
12 Rue Loubnane
Gueliz
Marrakech
40000
MOROCCO
Phone: +212 524422282

Joining instructions

Finishing your trip

Moroccan House Hotel Marrakech, 3 Rue Loubnane, Gueliz, Marrakech, 40000, MOROCCO, Phone: +212 524420305

Alternate Finish Point

For trips departing on the following dates
use this finish point.
01 Aug 2024 (XMXH240801)
Hotel Le Caspien
12 Rue Loubnane
Gueliz
Marrakech
40000
MOROCCO
Phone: +212 524422282

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 7

Lunches included: 5

Dinners included: 5

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader or local representative will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure.

Moroccan food is, generally speaking, excellent though not particularly varied. Breakfasts usually consist of bread and jam with coffee or tea. Meals eaten out are reasonably priced - kebab and bread cost only about MAD 30. In main towns, it is possible to find very good French and Moroccan restaurants where a meal and French wine will cost anything from MAD 220 upwards. Generally, dinner is likely to cost between MAD 80-120 depending on what you drink - so an estimate for food would be about MAD 150-200 a day. Soft drinks are available at very reasonable prices, but generally speaking, alcohol is not widely available in Morocco due for cultural and religious reasons. Still, in some hotels and restaurants, you will be able to purchase beer, wine and spirits, but you will pay foreign prices or more for imported alcohol. Please be aware of local laws, believes and traditions, and be very sensitive and respectful while consuming alcohol. Your leader can help recommend restaurants each evening. Vegetarians can be catered for but there is a fairly limited choice of vegetarian couscous and tajine or omelets. This is particularly the case in rural parts of this itinerary. Please note that if you have any special dietary requirements you should inform us prior to the trip. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets may find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for any included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own.

Climate & seasonal information

CLIMATE:
Please note that as a desert country, Morocco can have extreme weather with winter (approx November to March) being usually very cold and summers hot. However, on this trip you will spend most of the time in the mountains, which means you can expect all season’s weather within 24 hours. Days are usually hot, especially in the summer (June-August) and nights are rather cold, or even close to freezing in spring (April-June) and autumn (September). Up in the mountains you should expect rain to come at any time. Days are often windy too. Sun, when it’s out, is usually strong. Good pair of sunglasses, sun cream, sun hut, rain jacket and extra layers should be on hand at all times.

In Marrakech you won’t experience severe low temperatures, but evenings in spring and autumn can get chilly, whereas day time temperature should be pleasant. Summer sun makes Marrakech really hot so be prepared for some of that too.

RAMADAN
The important month of Ramadan will be in progress 10 March to 08 April 2024 and 1 March to 30 March 2025 and  and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected.

EID AL-ADHA
Eid Al-Adha (Sacrifice Feast) will take place in Morocco between 16 and 17 June 2024. This festival honours the sacrifice Abraham made of his own son. In commemoration of this, an animal is sacrificed and divided into three parts: one-third of the share is given to the poor and needy; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbours; and the remaining third is retained by the family. Please expect delays or complete suspension of public services during that time which may be disruptive to the trip schedule. For some, it may also be disturbing to see animals being sacrificed, as this can take place in public.

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader or local representative may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the group leader or local representative to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the numbers below:

Intrepid's Local Operator: +212 661922693

Accommodations

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.

Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.

We've sourced our accommodation very carefully and picked the best possible hotels in line with the Intrepid style of travel, but please note that service and accommodation in Morocco may be different to western standards.

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than en suite (even if you paid for single room supplement!)

HEATING
Gites (rural guesthouses) on this trip have very limited heating options as this would be a major financial and environmental strain. It's also a case of energy supply and timing provisions, which is limited in some places. Please be prepared for cold showers and chilly nights.

HOT WATER:
Similarly as with the heating, hot water is sometimes sporadic in Gites. Please be ready for cold showers.

CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

Transportation