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Day 1 London / Marrakech We fly to Marrakech and are transferred to our Riad within the walls of this ancient and beautiful city. Marrakech is a vibrant and busy place, at its heart is the UNESCO world heritage market square, Djemaa al-Fna. Here we can watch as Southern tribesmen and Berber villagers bring their goods to buy and sell. Just off the square a maze of alleyways leads into the traditional Berber souks and stalls piled high with goods. We may have time to explore before dinner and our first taste of authentic Moroccan cuisine. As we navigate the narrow alleys and lanes the 800-year old Koutoubia Minaret towers above us and in the far distance the peaks of the High Atlas Mountains are just visible. Day 2 Ait Bougamez Valley This morning we leave the city behind and travel to the Atlas Mountains which stretch from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Saharan Desert in the east. Our wonderful destination is the beautiful, less-visited Ait Bougamez Valley. The valley is a wide flat expanse of fruit orchards, fields of barely and green pastures, criss-crossed by streams flowing down from the surrounding M’Goun massif. We will stay overnight in one of the nearby villages in the valley, and prepare for our next few days in the mountains. The mountains are a stark contrast from the bustling streets of Marrakech, but they are home to the ancient Berber communities, with whom we will spend some time learning all about rural life in the Atlas Mountains. Days 3-4 Worthwhile Community Project For the next few days we will be based in a Berber village in the mountains. We will stay in simple mountain gites and work alongside the local community. We will have an opportunity to really get to know the families who call this beautiful valley home. The Berber people will make us feel incredibly welcome, and we are sure to make friends during our project. During our project we will have the opportunity to visit the women’s cooperative. This is an excellent initiative that helps local women gain income from their traditional crafts: such as weaving and from the production of olive oil. At the cooperative the women also learn literacy and business skills which greatly assist them. The activities that we undertake will depend on the requirements of the local community at the time we travel. We may be helping with the cows and sheep, gathering grass and fodder, and producing food or carrying water. We may also be helping with building projects in the village or attend the Sunday souk, loading the mules for carrying goods or maybe helping in the fields with the irrigation systems, harvesting or planting. We also hope to spend some time at a local school where we may interact with the local children, observe lessons, and maybe even do some teaching ourselves. Our aim for these days is to gain a real insight into the local culture, history and language of these fascinating people. Days 5-7 Trekking to base of M’Goun Today we start the first part of our trek in the High Atlas mountains, through the ‘Happy Valley’ as it is colloquially known. We begin with a gentle walk along the floor of the beautiful and unspoilt Ait Bougamez Valley, where we will be able to see the beautifully cultivated valley with attractive vernacular mud brick architecture. We will be surrounded by an amphitheatre of stunning mountains. This leg of the trek follows through the valley past walnut and apple trees, crossing over the complex drainage system of Berber fields. We then begin our ascent up into the M’Goun Massif where we will have stunning views across to M’Goun. Our route takes us south west to the village of Ighir-n-Ighrazene and then south through the village of Ghougoult and over the Tizi-n-Rouguelt pass. On our route, we may pass through age-old traditional Berber stone and adobe villages which blend almost seamlessly into the mountainside. These remote indigenous communities have lived in the same way for centuries making their living from tending the land and farming sheep. They have their own fascinating culture and unique language, and are also known for their hospitality and friendliness, so do remember to say ‘Salam Aleykum’ which is a pleasant ‘hello’. The valleys here are criss-crossed with irrigation channels and shaped by neatly terraced fields. As we trek we will see an abundance of walnut, cherry and apple trees and maybe see mules at work threshing wheat. Each night we will camp under the stars and can enjoy tasty Moroccan food. We will eat with our Moroccan guides who can regale us with stories and wow us with their incredible knowledge of the mountains. Day 8 Ascent of Mount M’Goun
We set off early across the plateau of Tarkeddit, ascending progressively to our first stop at a minor pass where we hope to watch the beautiful sunrise. Afterwards, we carry on walking higher and higher until we get to the ridge. We keep to the ridge before finally reaching the top - the highest peak of the area, Jebel M’Goun: at 4,068m, it is the second highest mountain in the whole of Morocco. This offers stunning views over the southern slopes of the High Atlas Mountains. Don’t forget your camera to take some amazing photos! Days 9-10 Trekking back to Ait Bougamez After our wonderful achievement, we spend 2 days making our way back to Ait Bougamez. We will enjoy our final days in the mountains and take in the beautiful scenery for the last time, giving us time to reflect on our achievements as we make our way back down to the valley floor. Tonight, we will stay in our final mountain gite before heading back to Marrakech in the morning. Day 11 Transfer to Marrakech Today we will return to vibrant Marrakech and having transferred to our Riad we have the rest of the day free to explore. In Djemaa al-Fna Square at the centre of the Medina we can watch the long-established rituals where groups of acrobats, drummers, pipe musicians, dancers, storytellers and comedians entertain the crowds. As the sun sets, the square becomes a hive of activity as food stalls are set out for the evening trade where locals and tourists rub shoulders at crowded tables. There will be a chance to visit the amazing souks selling everything from beautiful handcrafted crafts and handmade leather shoes to perfumes and spices. Bartering is a way of life in the souks and we can perfect our skills as we shop for family presents and souvenirs. Day 12 Return to London After an adventure to last a lifetime, we return home with wonderful memories.
From Saharan dunes to the peaks of the High Atlas, Morocco is an exotic and captivating country that is filled with one exciting adventure after another. With spectacular and contrasting landscapes, an expedition can include: a challenging trek over spectacular mountain passes, ‘wild camping’ under the clear Saharan night skies, or an exploration of the Kasbahs on the ancient southern trade routes. Morocco’s unique fusion of cultures and histories is both exciting and inspiring, and this generous country will leave you wanting more, such are its endless offerings.
Morocco is home to the dramatic Atlas Mountains, including North Africa’s highest peak, Mount Toubkal. Explorers will have the chance to ascend this, as well as complete exhilarating and rewarding treks throughout this region, with the opportunity to achieve the DofE Gold award as well. The vibrant Moroccan culture provides young expeditioners with a fascinating insight into a different way of life, and time spent in a remote Moroccan Berber Village is a wonderful place to experience this. A worthwhile community project and cultural exchange is a valuable way to give something back to a warm and welcoming community. Morocco provides the perfect combination of adventure, culture and community and remains one of our favourite and most popular destinations.
Day 1 Fly to Marrakech Overnight Marrakech Day 2 Ait Bougamez Valley Days 3-4 Community Project Days 5-7 Happy Valley Trek Day 8 Ascent of Mt. M’Goun Days 9-10 Trek back to Ait Bougamez Day 11 Marrakech Day 12 Return to London
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Trek the Ladakh region of northern India, between the Kunlun and Great Himalaya mountain ranges, taking on the challenge of an unforgettable ascent of Stok Kangri at 6,137m!
Basing ourselves in the breathtaking Atlas Mountains, we experience a community activity in a Berber village before undertaking a wonderful trek through Berber homelands, culminating in an exciting ascent of North Africa's highest peak!
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Written on Thursday, 20 December 2018
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